Call me anytime you want

Nov. 8, 2002, midnight | By Stephen Wertheim | 18 years, 2 months ago

Telemarketers can offer me money day and night

Dinnertime the other night, I'm eating, the phone rings. I arise in mid-spaghetti-slurp, disrupting my valuable family time, if "valuable family time" is defined as my parents steadily talking and me steadily turning up the volume to The Simpsons. I pick up, and who could it be on the other end but a telemarketer from the phone company. A telemarketer. Let me tell you what I think of telemarketers.

I love them.

I cannot, in fact, get enough of them. These people are calling me up and offering me money just to switch phone companies. I say, don't stop at interrupting dinner—intrude on breakfast and lunch, snack times, dessert! What could be better than AT&T and Sprint begging me to take their money for saying the word yes? They pay me so they can perform a service for my benefit. It's legal, reversed bribery, and I like it.

I couldn't care less about the local plan or the long-distance plan or whether I can hear the person on the other end; I don't mind if the customer service operator speaks in satanic tongues.

"You're giving me 50 bucks? For doing nothing? Sign me up."

In the back of my mind, I know that when AT&T finds out I'm no longer on the list, I get another $50 opportunity. And the telemarketing cycle continues.

I'd like to see someone make a living entirely off of phone company bonuses. Never move a muscle in their whole life except to pick up the telephone. I believe it can be done. They could open up their house to tours:

"This Rolex is from the summer of 1973 when I switched providers 25 times. Over there, that's my golden toilet seat, financed by the great Sprint-BellSouth flip-flop of '89. And note the diamond ring to your left, courtesy of a slight accounting error by WorldCom."

So if anything, rather than too much telemarketing, there's too little. Television networks should call me up and fight over what sitcom to watch at 8:30 p.m. Utz and Ruffles can choose what chips I buy at the grocery store. The ultimate telemarketer, though, would work for a political party.

"Listen, Mr. Wertheim, we want to lower taxes, we want to improve healthcare, we want to reform public schools and we preach family values. Be a Republican. One hundred dollars."

"I don't know. The Democrats offered me $150 and a disposable camera."

"All right, $175."

"Can you go over the logic of your economic plan again?"


Until then, however, the phone companies' money must suffice. Thankfully, this shouldn't be much of a challenge, especially given my new realization. Because I keep a phone company for a day and then move on, I've determined, it's almost not worth the company's time to go through the process with me. Next time they call, I'm going to tell them:

"Just continue to deposit $50 into my account each week, but this time, don't even bother to provide me with your service. Relax; don't trouble yourself. Just keep giving me money for no reason, and that would be great."

And if for some reason they have a problem with any of this, I believe they know where to reach me.

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Stephen Wertheim. Co-editor-in-chief Stephen Wertheim is deeply committed to reporting, even when it conflicts with such essential life activities as food consumption, sleep and viewership of Seinfeld reruns. In addition to getting carried away with writing and playing violin, Stephen thoroughly enjoys visiting and photographing spots around … More »

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