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in the name of god

no one likes telemarketers. the canadian government [among others] has introduced a "no call list" where people can try to get their number blocked from circulation to businesses that sell goods and services by phone because we all hate telemarketers. the only reason every phone number in the country isn't on that list is because a lot of people aren't aware of its existence. even the people who occasionally get bamboozled into buying things over the telephone don't like telemarketers.

actual telemarketer
in recent years, of course, people calling your house during supper to sell you things has gone from being merely irritating to potentially dangerous, since now, people who call aren't just stealing your time, but your money and your identity as well. microsoft recently revoked "gold partner status" from a support firm because it found out that they were running a scam whereby they called random customers and persuaded them that their computers were being used by terrorists to buy bombs and send unwanted pizzas to the white house and that the only way to stop this nefarious activity was to give the people calling your credit card number right away.

i'll cop to the fact that both dom and i answer these calls when we get them. in fact, we have to have a system as whose turn it is, otherwise we'd be fighting for the handset. as soon as we hear the words "i'm calling about your microsoft computer", we know that we have our entertainment for the evening. the goal of "the game" is to keep said telemarketer on the line for as long as possible, which involves delaying the point where they get frustrated and hang up on you. and, yes, they always end up hanging up on us. in order to accomplish this task, you can ask lots of questions, act really stupid, get them to repeat things a lot or some combination of those elements. frankly, since while they're on the phone trying to scam us, they can't be calling anyone nicer or more gullible than we are, i consider it a form of community service.

so far, my best time was the one where the guy kept trying to disconnect me, but his automatic dialer evidently wouldn't let him do so unless i hung up first. ok, that's kind of cheating, but it was hysterical hearing how frustrated he was getting when he couldn't get rid of me. 

i'm thinking of implementing a bonus points system if you can get the person on the phone to yell or curse at you. and yes, it happens. i can be very, very irritating.

but lately, there's another type of telemarketing that has entered my life. it's one of those recorded message things that just talks at you and suggests you call a number related to whatever they're saying. i used to get these when i lived in toronto, from some company that offered to take my household garbage away. since it was a recording, i never had to face the task of disappointing them by telling them that most cities of five million have municipal trash collection and that they might have wanted to factor that into their marketing plan. for all i know they were just calling to find out when they could break into my house.

the calls i'm getting now, though, are different. they're from god.

well, technically, i think, they're from someone else's god.

once a week or so, a call comes from a strange number [always with a north american area code, but a different one each time] and whoever answers [us or the voice mail] is greeted by something that sounds like krusty the klown's rabbi father on the simpsons. rather than immediately trying to offer goods or services, the calls usually start by mentioning some holy day that i've never heard of before. i've known enough practicing jews that the big days are reasonably clear in my mind [even the ones that try to fool you by moving], so i'm assuming that these messages are intended for a pretty devout crowd. [i can't check on this, of course, because the yiddish accent on the speaker is so cartoonish that i can't make out what he's saying.] sometimes, the calls solicit a donation, usually $12 a month, plus extra if you want special consideration. other times, they invite me to events, where i can presumably be coaxed in person to sign up for the $12 a month scheme. the last one gave a number where i could call to have a holy man cast a spell on my behalf. [fyi, if anyone i don't like happens to turn into a donkey, i had nothing to do with that.]

note :: not common
i'm assuming that the fact that i get these calls is related to the fact that i live fairly close to a traditionally jewish neighbourhood, but it really does not instill me with confidence in yahweh's powers of discernment. after all, you'd think that he'd know that a girl with the last name macdonald, which is basically latin for "scottish nutjob", is not one of the chosen people. evidently, the great creator is outsourcing to the wrong team.

however, i will say that these calls are kind of fascinating. i mean, i'm used to people trying to sell me credit cards or insurance, but a ticket on the express bus to paradise? that does seem like the kind of thing someone like me should be interested in buying [since i'm not getting in any other way]. oh and the express ticket occasionally comes with a chance to win a condo in jerusalem and $25,000. but i'd really only be in it for the salvation.

i'm getting up the courage to call them back and ask a few questions about their policies. i'm figuring that if $12 a month is good for boundless love, maybe $3 would be enough for a divine pat on the head. or maybe a one-time donation could be good for limited time protection. i mean, since the guy they have calling is such a stereotype, i would assume that i'm being invited to haggle, right? 

dom doesn't really seem to appreciate the intrinsic hilarity of these "nuisance" calls the way that i do. his advice is usually something kind of "practical" like "don't answer the phone" or "call them and tell them to take you off their list". are you kidding? these guys are selling god's good graces for $12 a month. that's way cheaper than insurance! we'd have god looking after us for crying out loud. even the best insurance policies don't cover acts of god! what do you say to that?!? [actually, he usually doesn't say anything when i get this way. he just sort of nods and looks a little nervous about his future.]

sometimes, the message includes a web site address, but i really can't make out what the heck it's called. although i assume it's a yiddish name, it also sounds suspiciously like it could be something out of lovecraft, which makes me wonder whether or not some friend of mine hasn't set these people on me and has spent the last several months wondering when this blog post was going to appear.

i know that eventually i'll build up my nerve enough [or get drunk and silly enough, which is probably more likely] to call them back just because i so want to know what their pitch is like "live". and also because, if i could get them to yell and curse at me, it would be worth, like a thousand bonus points in the telemarketing game.


Biba said…
Very amusing reading! It made my morning.

I usually hang up on those guys trying to sell me stuff - I usually say that I don't have time and hang up. But your way sounds fun. I think I might try it next time.
flora_mundi said…
It is fun. It's also probably indicative of the fact that I have too much time on my hands. But I highly encourage others to waste as much of these people's time as possible.

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