All Telemarketers Are Ex-Cons & Junkies
"Hi, this is Bob at Satellite TV...!"
OK, so maybe there are a few college students trying to pick up a little extra holiday money doing this and I know of at least one respectable cineaste who makes cold calls to help pay the mortgage and make his child support payments. But for the most part: all telemarketers are ex-cons and junkies. That is: all are by nature either scam artists or otherwise desperate characters.
I know, because I used to date a (supposedly) reformed druggie who worked for a telemarketing business in Owings Mills. Though the firm called to solicit donations for the Baltimore county police and firefighters, the telemarketers themselves were reformed offenders and ex-coke, crack, and heroin addicts who found salvation in the "invisible" world of telephone solicitation, where callers only had a voice, not a drug-ravaged face or tawdry past. This was the world of NA and AA meetings, where only the Alpha Reformed Druggies - like my girlfriend - were still able to take a drink or smoke the occasional doobie without falling off the wagon. Needless to say, everyone smoked cigarettes. Again, like my girlfriend, whose idea of a night out was to slap a pack of Marlboro Lights on a bar counter and knock back Molsen Golden Ales until closing time. She later got "smart," dumped me, found a smack addict boyfriend to play house with, and eventually was murdered by her beau when he was robbing her for money to score his next fix. No doubt his day job was telemarketing, too.
There's nothing wrong with being an ex-offender or junkie. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody has a right to move on with their lives and earn a living. I only mention this because I want to make clear that only someone without choices, someone who has bottomed out so badly that no one else will employ them - someone desperate - could sink so low as to become a telemarketer. I even read a story today that mentioned a prison in Shanghai, China, that employed its female inmates as telemarketers. That's the level we're talking here: people either without respect or freedom.
I only am musing about telemarketers because it was my day off today and instead of being able to sleep late and enjoy a little R&R, I was instead awakened by the steady stream, starting at 7 a.m., of "Out of Area" phone calls from the usual annoying suspects: Always True Travel, Baltimore Firefighters, and so on. I'm on the no-call list, yet still they find me, like the pandhandlers on the street who seem to drawn to me like a magnet to a giant Tesla coil. Even at 9 and 10 o'clock at night, when I sometimes foolishly think it might be a family emergency and run up the stairs to see who's calling, the jokes on me: it's only the West Coast telemarketing brethen calling to offer me free trips to time share condos on the Coast, ski trips to Aspen, and free satellite TV installtions. Worse yet, when I pick up to tell the pests to take me off their calling lists, I get pre-recorded messages, so I can't even unload my angst on a flesh-and-blood humanoid. (I do practice, however: "Hello? No one there? Too bad, I just wanted to tell you that I dug your mother up and boinked her skeleton! Now please never call here again!")
I wish comedian Bill Hicks was still alive, because he would have known how to respond to the phone drones. He once famously railed against marketers as follows: "By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself...No, seriously, there is no rationalization for what you do and you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourselves. Seriously, you're the ruiners of all things good. This is not a joke...You are Satan's spawn, filling the earth with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us, do the world a favor and kill yourself. It's the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself...Suck a tailpipe, fucking hang yourself, borrow a gun from a friend, I don't care how you do it. Rid the world of your evil fucking machinations."
Bill Hicks on Marketing (YouTube clip):
That about sums it up. Maybe I should just make Hicks' diatribe my new answering machine message. I'd probably still get those pre-recorded, "Uh, hi, this is Sherry, been trying to reach you so I'll just leave a message about our free vinyl window installation estimate..." Arghhh!