Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hello - Is This The Party to Whom I Am Speaking?

"Call For Phillip Mor-ris"
Ah, the good old days. Not sure if they were the days of wine and roses or the days of runny noses. Perhaps both. Remember when the paging system at a hotel was a man, usually a short one, dressed in a red uniform carting a pole with a chalkboard atop it and a chime. The name of the person being paged would be printed in chalk on the board and the short man in the red uniform and silly round hat would chime then call out, "Call for.... (whomever was being paged)." Those days are long gone. Today we can probably be most easily reached on our cell phones during business trips and on our home phones while at home.
It did not take long to realize that the door-to-door salesman could be replaced by a more efficient telephone call. It was a novelty at first, but my mother, even into her 90s saw the telephone as an object to be conversed on regardless of who the caller might have been. It was not unusual for her to spend up to a half hour on the phone talking to a wrong number or an unsolicited phone salesman. Her generation had a gentility about them that required civil behavior even to those who were intrusive.
The Baby Boom generation changed all that. Hurry, hurry, scurry, scurry, life is full of work and worry. "Do not intrude on my time. Stay away unless invited. I worked all day, put up with the bosses ranting and my co-worker's raving, met the deadlines, wrote the reports and skipped lunch to get it all done. Now I'm home and I want to relax."
But the unsolicited phone salesperson changed that. They invaded your space. They are too honey-dripping sweet and you're not in the mood. And worse, many of the phone calls are not even from humans, they're recordings or computer generated messages. "Hi! I'm Bob. Let me clean your carpets. I'll do the entire house plus your kid's treehouse, your car's floormats, and the basement all for $ 29.95." Well , Bob got us so irate that something called the "Do Not Call Registry" was developed and signed into law June, 2003.
Of course that does not guarantee that your dinner will not be interrupted by unsolicited callers. There are exceptions such as political organizations (what a surprise! the guys who wrote the law exempted themselves), charities, surveys, business with whom you've done business within the past 18 months, and of course, bill collecters. Then there are the telemarketers who call despite the law. Most get away with it and some have decided that the fines for violating the law are just the cost of doing business. So what can you do? There are no guarantees, but these are some safeguards: 1. You must re-enroll every five years. That can be done at 2. Check caller ID. Do not answer out of area calls, private, unknown, or those with odd phone numbers such as 999-999-9999. 3. Complain about unsolicited calls. You may do so at the same link cited above.
Midnight example: Telephone rings Caller, "Hello, is this 555.1212?" Resident: "No, this is 555.twelve.twelve." Caller: "Oh, sorry I woke you." Resident: "No problem. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway."
PS: The email "warning" about cell phone numbers being listed soon is a myth. Relax.
Dr. Forgot.

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