Friday, December 16, 2011

Annoying Telephone Solicitor, 1; Annoyed Gay Man, 0?

On average, Chris and I receive two to three telephone solicitation calls PER DAY.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I know, because I'm home most days working on my writing.  I hear the phone ring, I stop what I'm doing to go downstairs and look at the call display, and either I answer the call, if it's someone I know or want to hear from, or I hit Cancel.

It's 12:31 pm, and I've already received two calls today.  The first was from 866-397-8093 (which called at least once a day, every day, for the past couples of weeks), and the second was from Unknown Name Unknown Number.  Those are my favorite; I cancel them automatically.    

I tell you this so you know I have sound justification for being fed with the number of calls interrupting my work, trying to sell me something I don't need or want.

Here's how the conversation with today's first caller went:

Me:  "Hello!"  (The tone in my voice is, I've already lost patience with you, and you haven't opened your mouth yet.)

Caller:  "Hello.  This is Patricia calling.  How are you today?"  (I hate when they start like that, trying to be personable, trying to sound like they care about how I am.)

Me:  "I'm fine.  What is this call about?"  (I've always preferred the direct approach.)

Patricia:  "Is Mr. this-is-where-they-mangle-the-pronunciation-of-Chris's-last-name there?"    

Me:  "No.  He's at work.  How can I help you?"

Patricia:  "I'm calling from BMO insurance.  May I speak with the wife of the house?"  (Oh, this is too easy.)

Me:  "I'm Chris's partner."  (Making my voice sound as deep as possible.)

Patricia:  "Pardon me?"

Me:  "I said, I'm Chris's partner."  (I speak louder, like Patricia is hard of hearing.)

Patricia:  "Oh.  Sorry."  (Laughs nervously.)

Me:  "What is this about?"  (I'm truly annoyed now.)

Patricia:  "I'm calling you today to talk about different types of insurance for women."  (What?)

Me:  "There are no women in this household."

Patricia:  (Thinks for a minute.)  "Oh."  (Pause.)  "Thank you for your time."  (Hangs up.)

In the past, I've written posts about how, as gay people, we should go out of our way to help those who don't feel comfortable with us.  Something about trying to win them over with kindness, create a favorable impression, that sort of thing.

What do you think?  Did I create a favorable impression with Patricia today?  Probably not, right?

This is a picture of me sending apologetic vibes out into the universe for being so short-tempered with her.  After all, she's just trying to do her job.  Hopefully, I can undo whatever negative karma I created before something awful comes back to bite me in the ass.  

But, Patricia, here's what I hope you took from our exchange today:

1).  Don't assume every household you call is made up of a man and a woman.  There are different types people out there, in different living arrangements, and you should be able to think faster on your feet, so we don't get the impression we're being judged by what you say or, worse, what you don't say.      

2).  When you learn you've made a call to a gay male household, don't persist in trying to sell insurance for women.  This is where you turn off autopilot.  I assure you, most gay male households do not have women.  End your call gracefully and hang up.    

That's it.


  1. Gaa, the "heteronormative assumptions", eh? People DO need wake-up calls (no pun intended!!), and you gave her one. I notice it, too, now, when people are talking about their little kids, and make comments about future girlfriends or boyfriends...a couple of times I've almost said, "you shouldn't say that, what if he's gay?", but ya know....

    And haven't you submitted your numbers to the do not call list? Makes a big difference. Also, ask them to remove your name from their list, they're required to do that if you ask.

    On the flip side, my husband was talking to someone at Royal Bank, getting some online banking tips, and the guy he spoke to (who my husband guessed was gay) talked about how "he and his partner" used this new accounting tool RBC has, and my husband thought that was pretty cool. I thought, "Yay, Canada!"

  2. Sarah, I love that it even occurs to you these parents's children could be gay and not straight. Like I've said before, you are the best straight ally ever. But, yes, it would be in the parents best interest to at least consider the possibility their children could be gay, so they don't make assumptions that could be difficult for their children, and them, later on.

    About submitting the telephone numbers: When Chris and I first moved here, a good many of the calls we received were from states in the U.S. The call display would come up Massachusetts, or California, or Florida (no number appeared). I called the Better Business Bureau, and they gave me a number for the people who look after the do not call list. I called them, and they said they had no jurisdiction over nuisance calls from the U.S. So I was SOL.

    These days, I still get calls from the U.S.; I just ignore them. In general, most of the calls I receive have no numbers. On call display, they come up in various ways, but nothing I can use to identify them. See, they've gotten smart. They know people report them, but you can't without a number. So I just ignore them. Sometimes, I don't even bother getting up from my writing. The way I look at it, if it's important, they'll leave a message. They never do. (Besides, my writing is my priority.)

    And my response to your last paragraph: "Yay, hubby!" Your husband sounds as cool as you, with respect to acknowledging the existence of gay people in a positive way, and celebrating how open some parts of Canada are toward them (the banking industry has always been good--I should know). So, give your husband a pat on the back for me. He sounds like an advocate in his own way, too, and we can use all the advocates we can get.

    Thanks for the terrific comment. You're the best.

  3. Hey Rick
    We used to get a huge number of soliciator phone calls and always, it seemed, at dinner time. I hated this and finally submitted our unlisted home phone number and our cell phone numbers to the Canadian do not call registry online
    In less than a month these nuisance calls ceased and I honestly can't remember the last time we had our dinner interrupted by an unwelcome telephone solicitation.

    Merry Christmas to you and Chris and all the best in the New Year!!


  4. My sincere, thanks, Loretta, for giving me this information. I wasn't aware it existed. I've already input our phone number and sincerely hope it makes a big difference in the number of telemarketing calls we receive. We could use a bit of a break.

    Thanks again, and all the very best to you and yours this Christmas season and in 2012.