Call Hating: An Open Letter

I've never written an open letter; I'm wondering if it might help me, sort of like free range venting.


YES:  the fences have been knocked down:  let slip the cattle of peevishness.  I have a beef, and I'm going to let those cows (beef…cows…Aubrey, cut it out) run free, down an endless trail of annoyance:


"Dear Sir/Madam (or Madame, I have no way of knowing):


I am wondering if you are aware that whenever you call my place of business, you are interrupting me.  Whether it be work, breakfast, lunch, a thick cup of coffee, looking at cute pictures or composing comments on VOX, please be aware that YOU ARE INTERRUPTING ME.  How's this for irony:  I answer the phones for the office, yet:  I don't want to talk to you.  If I answer with a sweet tone and a smiling voice, be guaranteed that I'm only achieving this zen-like state either by digging my fingernails inches deep into my wrist or by tossing down a handful of vicodin followed by a chaser of raw vodka.  Yes, the only way I can stand you is if I am bloody, high or drunk.


I don't care about your business.  I, in fact, hate you.  When you call, the ringing of the phone scalds my eardrums and punctures my brainpan.


When I realize that you use the Bitch Voice on me, saving the Pleasant Voice for your connection, for the person you really want to speak with – well, that's when I want to kill you.  I could be looking up your and your children's addresses even now.  I can multi-task, you know.


There is no way that I could ever be glad to hear from you.  Rest assured that you are speaking with a smoldering ashtray of anger and resentment. 


So let me offer you a few pointers that it would behoove you to follow.  Because I'm sure you realize by now that I have a gun and will certainly use it in an unfortunate way if you don't pay attention to these painfully simple regulations:


1. Do not ask me to repeat your message.  I am not an idiot.  And though your message is as about interesting to me as buying new brake pads, you had best consider it written down.  You are at my mercy.


2. Do not ask me to look for the person you're calling after.  This will lead to:  cursing in the workplace; slammed phones; violence; blood; disapproval.  If you are told that the person is not available, they are goddamn well unavailable.  Or, they don't want to talk to you either.  Deal with it and let your petty issues stew just a little bit longer.


3. Do not ask to be put on hold until that person is free.  Because, guess what:  I wasn't just aimlessly sitting at my desk waiting for you to call.  I'm not there to service your phone call like a…call girl (Aubrey!  Stop!).  A business phone has several lines.  I don't have the time to stare at your blinking light and wait for the person you're calling to hang up.  Because the phone calls of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.


4. Do not goof on me.  Don't use pet names or wacky phrases.  Don't add '-ster- to the person's name.  Don't, to put it simply, waste my time.


5. Do not give me Dead Air.  When I say that a person is unavailable, don't suddenly become silent as if I had just told you that I was The Grand Wizard.  This does neither of us any good, especially as by now all I really want to do is set a burning cross on your lawn.


6. Do not be antagonistic.  When a person is not available, if I'm in a good mood and the Blueberry Smirnoff is tasting especially smooth, I will helpfully ask if I could get someone else to help you.  Answering 'No, you can't' is a bad move.  It's rude – that sort of thing doesn't occur to you, does it?


7. Do not expect me to be friendly.  I already don't like you (you've interrupted me, remember?), so why should I prolong what is already a painful encounter?  I don't want to ask how you are, and I'm not particularly interested in how you spent your weekend.  And I don't think you care to tell me, either!  You called on business, didn't you?


Please remember that there are very few desperately important things in this world.  And I would say that the odds are Stupendous that your little invasion of my time is not one of those very few things.  So please remember to stop acting as if it is.


Thanking you in advance,


Yours sincerely, etc.


Aubrey  ___________


___ _______ ________ __________


Los Angeles, CA"



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32 responses to “Call Hating: An Open Letter

  1. [standing ovation](quietly, though)

  2. …the phone calls of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world….Brilliant!And as long as we're thinking of hateful phone behavior, how hard is it to figure out that if my phone machine takes a message, this means you can leave me a message.I mean, beyond just telling me that you called.Enthralled as I am just to hear your voice, consider that nearly anything you are calling me about can, in fact, be left as a message:E.g., you'll be late, you are confirming a time, you need to tell me an amount, the check is late, whatever.And this goes at least double if I don't know who you are.Leave it on the tape.Or if you're just calling to talk, tell me that.What do you think the stupid machine is for?

  3. There was a time when it was considered rude to call a person you didn't know, now their expectation is to operate you or your business remotely through the little push-button device. Gratify me!

  4. *Big grin*Ah how I love to have those more eloquent than I ranting from the depths of my own soul for me.Blood, gore, guts and organs splattered on the walls! Aaaaah. The satisfaction!Thanks, Aubrey. And, by the by, beef, cows, behoove? Stop!!!!Bwahahahahaha.

  5. [stunned silence][slowly begins to clap]Bra-va, Bra-va, Bra-va, Bra-va[the crowd goes wild]brilliant dearest Aubs, just brilliant.if I may add my own tiny teeny peeve:if I ask you to leave a number where you can be called back (and I will) do not say "oh, he (she) has it". I can assure she (he) does not. and even if they did they are not going to spend time looking for it. the chances of your call being returned increase by 300% if there is a number attached to the message. also, Aubs, would you consider tagging this post open letter? a while back RedZilla suggested it, as a public service to VOXers

  6. Aubrey, you are wonderful.
    I love this piece, though you do remind me of how little I see of really great writing like the above.
    If I knew annoying you would garner such a response I would have been the first to call you up to ask for someone else in a multitude of ways.
    As Winston Churchill used to say KBO.

  7. oooh, thank you! i have been wondering if it would be unprofessional and unseemly to simply disconnect my work phone altogether. i hate all phones (except for the iPhone) and i especially hate taking phone calls of any kind at work.

  8. *opera claps*Communicatus Interruptus. The best part is hanging up. Or when the person standing at my desk fails to see that I'm VERY BUSY at the computer composing an email, a Vox communique, or a CO comment and continues to blather on about something I couldn't care less about… I will whip out a copy of this post and hand it to them. As if it would help.

  9. "He (she) has it."Sure they do.

  10. Phones are evil. Therefore, your list of Phone Dos & Don'ts are perfect.

  11. I try really hard to be polite and friendly anytime I call a business. And I definitely do not take out my gripes on the poor sod who answers the phone. I save that for the jackwad who messed up my business.
    I'm guessing, however, that your boss wouldn't appreciate your assertion that a phone call is an interruption, since it's your job to answer the phone. 😉

  12. Brilliant! Because the phone calls of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.*happy sigh*

  13. (looking upward, twisting jaw, drumming fingertips together)
    Tch, in all my vast imagination I can't imagine The Aubrey as a "poor sod". 😉

  14. My personal pet peeve? Someone turning down the recipient's voice mail in order for you to tell them the message.

  15. Well said!! I too, DESPISE the sound of phones ringing!! So much so that my land line, only connected for emergencies, no longer has a ringer. And I turn off my cell ringer on a regular basis. If a co-worker leaves their cell ringer on, and leaves their desk, and their stupid grandson calles 8billion times in a row, they will return to their desk to find I have turned off their freakin little phone.
    I now find myself in the strange position of wanting set up appts and conduct all business by txt or email even when that is not the most efficient process – simply because I don't want to bug anyone else with a ringing phone!
    Maybe you should give me your office number so I can call you and we can talk about this some more. I'll be sure to use hostile tones & have a snotty attitude. LOL.

  16. Perhaps someone (not me!) should start an "Open Letter" vox group. Though they'd have to be committed to monitoring it… because my next Open Letter might have to be about the 'tards who copy ALL of their posts to ALL of their groups – rendering the Groups useless to me cause I don't have the time/energy/interest to sort through the crap to get to the applicable content.
    And another peeve: The chick who did my eyebrows keeps thinking I've called her. I don't know why. I haven't. But she calls me – causing me to have to stop whatever I'm doing, check the phone, not recognize the number, and let it roll to voicemail. She leaves a message then INSTANTLY calls back again. I ignore it again and she leaves a second message saying the exact same thing. WTF?!?

  17. "Poor sod" not meaning any disrespect to Aubrey, of course, but as an expression of sympathy for anyone who is a target of rude behavior because of her unfortunate circumstance of being the first one said rude person encounters when calling a business.
    Being the front desk/phone answerer is not the most glamorous and rewarding work, and there are a lot of jackwads who seem to think that the receptionist is just an automaton with no feelings who doesn't deserve to be treated respectfully.

  18. Sounds like I'm not the only one having a clueless customer week.

  19. I found out today that there is an eighth regulation:
    Do no expect me to connect you when I don't know your name, your affiliation and/or company. Do not ask for someone then cut me off with a curt 'thank you'. It'll take more than that pithy little discourtesy to keep me from delving a little deeper and asking for your damned name. You might think that your tag is a sort of sanctum sanctorum to be closed to people like me, but you're going to have to throw me a bone – I can't go into my boss' office and say that 'a person' – or more to the point 'a rude b*tch' – wants to speak to her.

  20. Right you are, AuntieM, and very well put.
    Callers expect so much yet offer nothing. The irony; they deserve an automated phone answering system, which would put receptionists out of a job. Or, open up new job responsibilities.
    For a decade I answered phones and now I pwn them. Again, the irony; just as I reached phone call Supreme Master status, I changed jobs and I rarely get outside phone calls. (Our new receptionist is great)
    Aubrey, I'm sending you, right now, a little hologram movie of me, see it on your desk there beside the phone? That's me, dancing the jig, clicking my boot heels together, 'cause I don't have to answer the phones anymore! Neener! I paid the piper.
    All receptionists have to be part bulldog, y'know. And all receptionists should watch the Dr. Katz tv series so Laura can show them how it's done.

  21. I hate the phone. I hate calling people, I hate answering the phone. I hate when I ask to take a message and they want their voice mail instead. We don't have voice mail, but I have a pen and a pink while you were out pad. AND I'm not a moron, even though I didn't go to college and am holding a lowly secretarial job.
    My big peeve is when some ASSWIPE that I don't know & have never met that is a friend of the boss (this used to happen at Weast, Inc., my last job) calls and uses some fake name when I ask who's calling. Or they say it's his gay lover or play some stupid fucking game they think is cute. and when I don't laugh or insist that they tell me their name, they tell my boss I have no sense of humor. Yes, I do have a sense of humor. I actually laugh at funny things. I don't laugh at you trying to make me look like an asshole while I am getting paid a pittance to be interrupted from doing *actual* work to field your personal call. It's not cute. In fact, I find it rather demeaning.

  22. preach it sista!

  23. perfectly stated, as always
    I'm lucky in this job because I don't deal nearly as much with the phone as my last job – I do as much as possible by email here

  24. A public phone is not the place for a private joke.
    I was not hired to answer phones. That particular responsibility was hefted on me last year. I was hired to – and continue to – research, write, edit, update reports (daily), keep track of edits to our database, take charge of ALL mailings…etc. The phones surely do interrupt. Then again, I do enjoy being paid every two weeks. (I have been known to be close to adorable on the phone.)
    (smacks happy-pyrit hologram off desk)

  25. Now I know I love you. Truly, Madly, Deeply. Of course, you had me at Dear Sir/Madam.

  26. personally I am always overjoyed to get a real live person instead of some listen to the menu and hit the key recording/voicemail machine. But I can understand what you are saying. Especially in Hell Lay.

  27. This is great!I used to be a receptionist for a large corporation with a bazillion lines and 400 employees. I was convinced some people just are dicks or really don't know any better. I got really good at screening calls and eventually stopped trying to hide my annoyance on the phone with people if they were being jerks from the start. The wives of various employees were the worst with constant calls. But the best was the wife of an employee being a total cunt and calling non-stop wanting me to interrupt a shareholders meeting, "its an emergency!" bla bla bla. What was the emergency in the end you ask?She couldn't find where he put the dog's leash.

  28. Oh yes. And there just might be another.
    If by chance YOU make a mistake and have dialed the wrong number, reaching me by mistake do NOT hang up on me, sit there in silence (I can hear you breathing) OR blame me Or insist that you have dialed the correct number and ask for the same person I've just told you does not exist at our establishment.
    I hates it when people get testy with me for their mistakes. I hate that I have to apologize to them that the person they're looking for is not at my number. And they get rude and snippy and insist they've not possibly made a mistake so where is so and so? WHO THE HECK KNOWS? Maybe they gave you the wrong number on purpose, for a reason? hmmmm?
    Just apologize for making the mistake of dialing me and say goodbye. Would it kill ya?

  29. Whoa! I have been the phone slave of the office in the past, so I unnerstand.

  30. this is a brilliant letter!i don't have much work phone experience myself, a deficit i don't plan to remedy any time soon.

  31. All of this is absolutely true. I was a receptionist for awhile, and I found a regulation you have missed. Do not call me giving me some half baked story about how you have this deep relationship with the Boss man. I will say polite noises and then hang up on you. Calling back 3 seconds later pretending to be someone else and saying May I have accounts payable please? So that you can tell Shirley in accounts payable that the receptionist is an idiot and was supposed to put you through to the Boss man. You will not only die, but I will say One moment please, in my sexiest call girl voice, and place you in hell, otherwise known as, permanent hold. I will let your little blinky light flash on and off for the next two hours, every 15 minutes or so, I will say to you, so sorry for the delay, sir, Mr. Boss man is on the other line and will be with you shortly. I will only do this because it keeps you busy and prolongs your hope of actually speaking to the Boss man. I picture you, writhing on the other end of the line, and it makes me smile. Writhe worm, you deserve it.

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