Containing The Telemarketer
by B. Craig Grafton
It started when Will Treadwell, the retired baby boomer, answered his phone that displayed the word telemarketer. The first thing he heard was a recording spitting out it’s spiel and ending with, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance.”
Then a real voice came on the line. “Mr. Treadwell?”
“My name is Sanjay, and I’m calling on behalf of dee Eclipse Company home warranty protection plans.”
“Hold it right there, Sanjay. Could you repeat that please, I didn’t quite understand you.” With a name like Sanjay he had to be from India, reasoned Will, and especially with that heavy syncopated accent. “And could you also talk slower please and spell your name for me?”
Sanjay obediently followed instructions. Will had understood him the first time. He just wanted to mess with him. It was his way of establishing that he and not Sanjay was in charge of this conversation. Sanjay tried to continue, but again Will cut him off before he had a chance.
“Excuse me Sanjay, but what exactly is quality assurance? Please explain that for me.” He always added the please. They couldn’t refuse you if you said please.
“Dat is to ensure that the recording device is working properly,” Sanjay guessed because he didn’t know what quality assurance was.
“Well there’s no reason to record this is there?”
“Dat is not my decision. I have no control over dat. Eet is company policy.”
“I didn’t ask you who’s decision it was, did I? All the answer required is a yes or no answer, Sanjay. There’s no reason to record this is there?”
Sanjay answered same as before but Will had made his point and Sanjay was beginning to get torqued off as Will could tell from the tone of his voice. Will was pleased with himself.
“Jest to let you know I am recording this conversation too. I don’t need your permission to record this since you called me. But you do need my permission to record me don’t you? Yes or no, Sanjay?”
“Correct. So before I give my permission you must agree to my terms which are as follows. Any broadcast, reproduction or use of this recording without the express written consent of myself is prohibited.” This is what the NFL started all its broadcasts with and if it’s good enough for them, by God reasoned Will, it’s good enough for me. “Do you agree? Yes or no?”
“Yes,” replied Sanjay. He knew that he didn’t have any authority to make such an agreement but he was anxious to get on with it. He needed find out if he had a chance to make a sale or if he should hang up and move on.
“Are you calling from India?” giggled Will, sure that he was. Will wanted to waste as much of Sanjay’s time as possible. That way at least this telemarketer would never call him again he reasoned.
“No,” he lied.
“Where then? You sound like you’re from India.”
“New York City,” he lied again.
“Well then, where was ya borned?” hee hawed Will in his best redneck accent. “You don’t sound New Yorkish.”
“Pakistan” replied Sanjay, hoping that would satisfy him.
“That’s what I thought. Had to be India or Pakistan. Well what are you selling anyway?” He knew that would keep Sanjay on the line a little longer.
“Mr. Treadwell,” Sanjay got back into his selling mode, grasping at one last chance for a sale. “Last munt you purchased a one year extended warranty plan for your Eclipse appliances. We can extend your warranty for up to an additional five years.” Sanjay then laid out what a five year warranty would cost. He ended with, “You can see dat’s quite a considerable savings to you ratter than renewing each year. You do want to save money don’t you, Mr. Treadwell?” The appeal to saving money always worked. Nobody was stupid enough to say that they didn’t want to save money.
“Well at my age I got more money than time,” came back Will’s answer, an answer he knew that Sanjay had not expected.
“Dis calls for a yes or no answer, Mr. Treadwell. Yes or no? You do want to save money don’t you?” Sanjay chortled to himself for having given his adversary a dose of his own medicine.
Will realized that he had been tripped up. Still he was not going to give this man the satisfaction of obeying him. “Not really,” was his quick thinking reply.
“What then really?” Sanjay immediately came back with, but then immediately regretting his rash response, realizing that he had only prolonged all this nonsense.
“Well you see that at my age, if I buy a five year plan I might not live that long and then I don’t really save money. Do I?”
Sanjay knew that Will was trying to get him to answer yes or no again but he was determined not to give him the satisfaction. “How about a two year plan then? Surely you can live another two years to get your money’s worth,” said Sanjay in desperate frustration.
”Give me a minute to do the math.” Will quit talking and looked at his watch. When one minute was up he resumed the conversation. “I just did the math, Sanjay, and actually I would have to live 2.34 years to break even.” He hadn’t done any math but it sounded good and it had kept this telemarketer wasting his time. After all that was the point of all this pointlessness wasn’t it?
He then heard the click. The line went dead. Will looked at his watch and smiled. He had beaten his old record by a few seconds. Next time he would do better. for he knew that he would battle the ‘telemarketurds’, as he called them, again. He knew he couldn’t ever defeat them. All he could do was contain them for a while, but that was good enough for Mr. Will Treadwell.
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B Craig Grafton
The author’s stories have appeared in Romance Magazine, Frontier Tales, The Zodiac Review and The Fable Online.