Stop Wasting My Time: When did I invite you to telephone me anytime you want and mislead me?

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

As you pass 40, you realize those sands are precious. Actually, they are precious at any age. It’s just that, as you go past 40 and then past 50 and even 60, you appreciate that time, the currency of any person’s life, is vital. The supply is running out. That is why it is important to use time wisely and not let people waste it.

At the top of the list of the people who waste your life has to be telemarketers. Often they will call at all hours of the day or night. They don’t care what they’re interrupting. They are trying to sell you something.

Sometimes these telephone terrors are trying to get you or your significant other to do something such as vote for some career pol running for his 18th term in Congress—usually in a de facto one-party district, where the other party puts up a dummy candidate—or sign some crazy petition or contribute money to some venal democratic party group or some “steal everything not nailed down” republican party group.

So—again and again I tell these birds—don’t call me. Send me an email or a letter. Those are non-intrusive forms of communication. I don’t have to read an email. I can delete it. I can use the back of the campaign propaganda letters mailed to me to keep gin rummy scores or hand them over to the tender mercies of my cats, who love doing unmentionable things to the pictures of these pathetic pols. But please leave me alone in peace in mi casa or at least deal with me in an honest and direct manner.

I’m not against free speech. However, I am against deceptive speech. I am against telemarketing people who call you and try to trick you by not immediately identifying themselves, what group they work for and what they are trying to do.

How does it work?

Becky Bothersome on the Line

Someone calls me and says, “can I speak to Suzanne?” (My wife is the ever comely Suzanne Hall, who is in the next room, working on a play or practicing the flute). Now I start to think it might be one of her friends. So maybe I should interrupt her and hand over the phone. But then my cerebellum suddenly become operational. I ask: “Who are you?” The person responds, “I’m Becky Bothersome, can I please speak to Suzanne?”

As she makes her pitch—it is high and tight and almost knocks me out of the batter’s box—I hear tons of people speaking in the background. They all seem to be making the same pitch from some silly script. It sounds as though Becky Bothersome is calling from some kind of boiler room, where everyone has a quota to sell a certain number of shares of suspicious stock by the end of the day.

Still, I think something is going on. I know most of Suzanne’s friends and I’ve never heard of a Becky Bothersome. So I press on. “Who are you with?” I ask.

“Well,” explains Becky as she reads her pitch for probably the 80th time that day, “I’m with the Save the Pols campaign, a group that is trying to win parole for former public officials now residing in Leavenworth. We really need to talk to Suzanne. This is really important. Is she there?”

“We’re Making a Courtesy Call”

Now, I finally understand what is going on. Some sleazebag group, an organization that raises money by calling and identifying itself only when you smell a fraud and insist on proper identification, wants to talk to my wife. A variant of this is the telemarketer who calls and also tells you almost nothing about himself or herself. Then, when pressed, says “it is a courtesy (sic) call.”

There’s no courtesy in this call. The person just wants to sell you something, saying so would be truthful. But that’s something most telemarketers do their best to avoid.

This is the big lie technique straight out of George Orwell, who has the character, Big Brother, in the novel “1984,” proclaim that “War is Peace.” Indeed, telemarketers usually employ Newspeak, the language of Big Brother.

Possibly, the most inane and misleading of telemarketers are the political hacks who will call you days before an election. They demonize the opponent of the politico who is writing their checks. Then they suggest that it would be a miscarriage of justice if their candidate isn’t nominated for the next opening in the Blessed Trinity or isn’t universally proclaimed as the savior of the world.

What’s to Be Done

Once you have identified this species of time waster—and remember the easy way to do that is to ask direct questions and listen to him or her hem and haw like pols on the hustings simultaneously promising reduced taxes and increased welfare services—hang up as quickly as possible. Don’t let these people steal sands from your hourglass. Your life matters. All lives matter.

Remember, these telemarketers don’t care about you. They only care about making their quotas or their political cause. You are merely a means to their ends. In the case of those ends, their defense of every deception is that the end justifies the means. And they have lots of means to trick you out of dollars, votes and the hours of your life.

Also, go online to the National Do Not Call Registry and register your number. It can be done quickly. At least, in theory, this might slow down the con artists, scammers and political flunkies from stealing the precious hours of your life.

Goodbye, Becky. Don’t call us ever again.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.