On Saturday, I went down to AlamObama Headquarters to take part in calling voters in battleground states. I wanted to do something since I feel strongly about the outcome of this election and it doesn't much matter who I vote for here in Texas.
But I hated every minute of it.
Only one person I called was rude to me. That wasn't the problem. The problem was, I hate the phone. Sure, I like talking to friends and family members, but I hate calling people I don't know well, much less people I don't know at all. I don't even like ordering pizza on the phone and will do it online when I can. I will almost always email rather than call when the option is available to me. Partly it's because I think the phone is so demanding. The phone says I must talk to you RIGHT NOW while email says hey, when you get a minute...
But a lot of it probably stems from a job I had in college where rude people on the phone were very much the problem. I worked in the telephone interview unit of Conseco Medical Insurance. People who applied for the insurance had to be called to complete an interview on their medical history and other risk factors.
Except some people would forget that they had applied, apparently, and assume that we were telemarketers. And they were all kinds of assholes about it. The worst one I can remember was someone who told me to hang on and then went and turned on her fax machine so it would make that high-pitched squealing noise. I had a headset that went directly in my ear, making this especially painful. So I had to send her application back to her insurance agent, who would tell her that she'd have to call in and do the interview or not get the policy. This probably set her back a couple of weeks at least, all because she couldn't spare 15 seconds to find out that I had a legitimate need to speak to her.
But that is beside the point. There is no excuse for that or any other rude behavior even if the person is a telemarketer. I've heard and read about mean tricks and clever pranks you can pull on telemarketers because they have it coming for bothering you. And it is no end of irritating to me.
Do you really, honestly think that person wants to call you? Do you think telemarketing was a career goal that this person had? People do telemarketing because they have to. Why should you be mean to them? Just say no thank you and hang up. Or get caller ID and don't answer it if you don't know the person calling. Or turn off your ringer during dinner if you're going to get so all-fired pissed off about anybody calling you then. Or get on the Do Not Call List.
But above all, keep in mind that the person on the other end of the phone is a person. I dealt with people in that job who said no end of rude, demeaning, and horrible things to me, even when they knew why I was calling. I had the option to hang up on them, but I also had a quota of interviews to get done if I wanted to keep the job. Why anyone felt it was their right to verbally abuse me for doing my job, I do not know. They were free to refuse the interview and apply for different insurance if they didn't like it.
(Now, of course Conseco was using this information for purposes of declining people on the basis of their pre-existing conditions or excluding those conditions from coverage. I asked people about their back problems or asthma or whatever so Conseco could say "We'll cover you, just not anything related to your back/asthma/etc." Which renders your health insurance a lot less useful, but they can get away with these things because nobody tells them they can't. My loathing of insurance companies comes from having seen the inner workings of one.)
But back to my point: play nice with the kids on the phone, please. Chances are, they'd much rather be at a dinner table with some people they actually know, too.