ImageWhen I retired, I planned on a peaceful, relaxing series of days without the pressures of a job and people bugging you all the time to do something. The Mrs. felt the same way and we looked forward in our golden years to setting our own schedule. We could stay up late, sleep in, go dancing on a Tuesday, or pack a bag & take off without anyone’s permission. I could play golf every day if I wanted and maybe even cure that slice.

I never considered getting an unlisted home phone when I retired, but that was before “they” started calling.

Telemarketers love seniors. We are a perfect demographic mix of couples and individuals with lots of time to listen to a pitch, a pocketful of discretionary income, and available Monday through Friday from 8am until 5pm. Seniors welcome calls from telemarketers, because we are all lonely, pining to talk to someone, and have nothing better to do with our money than buy their “products.”

Telemarketers also love seniors because we are naive, gullible, and forgetful–a perfect mark for an unscrupulous salesperson.

Newsflash: I do not love telemarketers. In fact, I hate telemarketers. I am not lonely. I do not need my carpet cleaned, a might-be-valuable-someday coin collection, my house remodeled, or a wireless alarm system. I am not interested in a walk-in bathtub (who takes baths anymore?), or a one-person chair lift. I did not talk to you a year ago, nor are we old friends.I don’t want to sell you my old gold or unruly grandchildren.

I do not believe you when you say this is not a sales call, that I have won a trip or a free magazine subscription. I will not give you my social security or any credit card number, nor do I want somebody to come to my house. I do not want to donate money to anyone who calls me on the phone, no matter how pathetic your story or political party. Hint: if you have to say this is not a scam six times in a two-minute pitch, I am going to strongly suspect, this is a scam.

Yes, it is irritating when you call me on a rotary dialer, I answer and no one comes on for ten seconds…that is why I hang up after five. Even worse are the recorded messages, which get disconnected immediately. No, I take it back, the worst are calls from somewhere in the third world, from a telemarketer who does not use English as his primary language. I can not understand a single word you say!   “Are Jew Interested?” could be considered a racial slur. (The noisy call center background doesn’t help either)

I admit I do get some small pleasure messing with the telemarketers…calling them out when they obviously are lying…or taking them off their script and watching them flounder, sputter and not know what to say or do. The ultimate achievement is to mess with a telemarketer until he gets mad and hangs up on me.

What a cranky guy, you say, it can’t be that bad. Would you believe, once you make that golden list, you can expect on average around 30-40 calls a week, interrupting your critical TV shows and afternoon naps…and we are on a “no call” list, which they get around by claiming you have asked for information from somebody at some time in your distant past.

Why not get an unlisted number you ask?  First of all it cost extra, and secondly, what if I get lonely?


Richard Allan Jones is an author, musician, and actor living in Los Angeles.

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