One of the great things about having a blog of one’s own is that one can occasionally depart from the usual topics to reflect on the trials of daily life, or to vent one’s spleen about various and sundry aggravations. Today, I will do a little of both and explain why I love Caller ID, and how it’s changed my telephonic behavior forever and very much for the better.
If you don’t identify yourself, I probably don’t want to talk to you, either.
I work at home, and everything I do is on a deadline. When an incoming call gets to ringing, I no longer pick up the phone and do my own call screening by trial and error. Instead, I look at the caller ID, and use what I do — or don’t — see there to decide whether or not to pick up. And even when I do pick up, that information often guides my subsequent and immediate behavior. I can sum this up in two simple rules:
Rule 1: If I don’t know you, or you won’t tell me who you are, I probably won’t pick up
I get countless calls labeled as “anonymous,” “unknown caller,” or any of a wide variety of toll-free numbers (from the 800, 888, and other 8** exchanges). Other calls are simply identified by location: I just found “Santa Monica, CA,” “Plano, TX,” and “Gilroy, CA” in my 100-number caller ID log. 9 times out of 10 I don’t pick any of these calls up, knowing that I don’t want to hear what they want to tell me anyway.
Rule 2: If I do pick up on a no-name caller, there better be a live person on the other end of the line
The one time out of 10 when I do pick up a suspect number, I’ll listen for a human presence when I pick up the phone. If there’s any delay at all — while the auto-dialer detects “Hey, we’ve got a live one!” and switches me over to an available call-center employee — I’m already hanging up the phone. I usually wait until the switchover occurs and I hear the line go over from a dead state to a live one (background noise kicks in), and that’s when I hang up before the call center employee has a chance to launch into his or her script.
Why do I do this? I’m sorry if this seems rude to those readers who may be interested in my blog but who also work in a call center, or know somebody who does, but my time is all I have to sell to make my living. I try to max out my charitable giving every year, and I’ve learned to ask those charity callers who get through my screen the first telling question in that game of chance “How much of your donations goes to the actual beneficiaries?” (I won’t give to any organization that gives less than 80-85% to the beneficiaries; recently I got a call from some “Kid’s wish” outfit that gives only 13 percent — yes, THIRTEEN % — to the kids). But I just don’t have time to spend on the phone listening to pitches I’m likely to decline anyway. So I try to steer around that stuff.
As for calls that come in after normal working hours, I won’t get near any numbers I don’t recognize. That goes double for incoming calls while we’re sitting at the table eating dinner. Take a lesson telemarketers: Caller ID is the consumer’s friend. Don’t expect us to give you our time any more, unless you treat us like normal, decent human beings. Tell us who you are, what you want, and let us bail if we don’t want to hear any more. It would also be very nice if the national do not call list really worked the way it’s supposed to, too!