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Call Me, Maybe

By Rodney Landrum,

After many years in IT, like most people I'm resigned to the endless stream of unknown and unsolicited calls that dog my working days. On the rare occasion I answer, I am greeted with a long pause of disbelief that I actually took the call followed quickly by the inevitable sales pitch, with which I deal in the standard, passive-aggressive style.

Last Saturday morning, however, I was awoken at 8:00 AM to a call on my personal phone, from "California". I ignored it and tried to go back to sleep but the state was dogged and called back two more times within 10 minutes. It was rare and strange for a sales call to invade my weekend and, in a moment of weakness, I picked up. California was apparently a young woman and, yes, she was eager to speak with me about a piece of software or other technical service. I was even more eager not to listen, and may have been a tad more aggressive than passive in letting her know that. Being the nice guy I am, I later felt a twinge of regret. After all, California was a person. She was just doing her job, working overtime on Saturday. In a fit of penance, I resolved that for the next week I would answer every single unsolicited call, happily! I might even respond to a few solicitation emails. My wife on hearing my plan treated me to her best "he's finally lost it completely" look, but I was not to be dissuaded, and in fact wagered her $10 that at least one of the week's "unknown" calls, if fielded politely, would actually prove to be useful.

The first call came in at 11:27 AM, Monday morning. "IT, this is Rodney." I don't know why I answer my personal number this way. I just expect the call to be IT related, even if it's from a family member. The Unknown caller was "Bethany" who wanted to sell me season passes to my hometown team's basketball games. I recognized the voice; she had been calling for over 6 months after I went to one basketball game last year. Kudos to her for persistence. We had a pleasant conversation although I tried to make it clearer than I managed the last time we spoke that if I ever needed a season pass I would seek it out on my own.

At 1:57 PM, "California" called again. I had a meeting starting in 3 minutes, but here was my chance to make amends with the young woman from Saturday. It was jarring, therefore, to hear a gruff, masculine voice asking if I was Rodney. Once I affirmed, a long, scripted, one-way dialogue began about a technical whitepaper that could aid me in my current role as CIO. I did not correct MrCalifornia about my title but when 2:00 PM rolled around I tried to break in, courteously, to advise him that I had a meeting starting. This did not dissuade him. "Hey, that all sounds interesting, but I really have to go". He kept talking, bless his heart. "OK, sorry but I have to drop. Thanks…thank you." And I hung up. I hate hanging up on people because it is rude, but surely people know not to cold call a few minutes before the hour or half hour? It is all about timing!

By Wednesday, having fielded stoically many similar calls, I was worn down. For light relief, I turned my attention to the solicitation emails. This was even worse. For a start, there were just too many, 47 in total, none of which looked even vaguely promising, plus countless others from people who were sure I needed sex and Viagra.

On Thursday I received a call coming from an internal extension. "I am IT…go ahead" I greeted my unknown co-worker, who in fact turned out not to be a co-worker at all, but a salesman who had called a co-worker and got him to forward the call to me. I let him know that as much as I admired his clever ruse, now was not a good time. In fact, this entire week was turning out to be a NOT good time. I went to lunch, exasperated.

Late Friday afternoon, I fielded a call from a man who wanted me to listen to his colleague present a half hour demo on their SQL product. He informed me, suavely, that he had taken the liberty of setting up a calendar invite for me for the following week, and that I should also have received an email notification that he was going to call. I opened my calendar and sure enough there was the half-hour meeting, right at lunch time. Shaking my head in disbelief, I deleted the email, deleted the invite, and told him I was not interested, which only encouraged him to increase the intensity and aggression of his verbal barrage. I reiterated my lack of interest, with as much patience as I could muster, at which point he hung up on me!

I got into my car to head home for the weekend, relieved that the calls were over but still upset about the previous one. Half-way home the phone rang again, caller "unknown". I tensed in preparation for the final confrontation of a long week. "IT!" I barked into the phone. It was an automated call from my pharmacy letting me know my blood pressure medicine was ready for pick up. Perfect timing! Although, I wasn't sure if it meant I'd won my bet.


Rodney Landrum (Guest Editor).

Total article views: 118 | Views in the last 30 days: 1
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