Emmie, my 10-year-old, posed a humorous question to me yesterday, as she was making her lunch and our caller ID voice (who we think sounds just like the lady from our neighborhood Chinese restaurant) suddenly filled the air.  Emmie had just heard me say, “Don’t answer it– I recognize that name and it’s a telemarketer.”  She paused a moment, pouring leftover chili into a bowl, and said, “Mom, do telemarketers like getting calls from telemarketers?” What a great question.  I wonder if they do? I wonder if they run to the phone with glee and always pick up, listen carefully, and then say something nice?

I was cured of talking to telemarketers a few years ago. After a long, tiring day, I was preparing dinner when the phone rang. I could tell it was a telemarketer’s number (why do they always have to call at mealtimes?) so I chose to let the answering system get it, and at the time we had one of those where you hear the message as it’s being left, so you can “screen” your calls.  And I got to hear an earful– a loud recorded message, about how “marriage should be between a man and a woman, and to join the fight against same sex marriage, call this number” …it also said a few more things about gays and lesbians, if I recall.  Now, put aside any political/social opinions you have about the topic and consider what I was thinking: I’m glad my youngest child wasn’t home at the time, because I hadn’t talked to her about that topic and I really wasn’t ready to broach the subject while chopping celery.  I thought about a young mom at home with an even younger child playing at her feet, and got madder.  Oh, sure, we modern parents are used to deflecting, when our kids are in tow, “unwanted sexual advances” from the Viagra ads on the car radio,  the “57 Ways to Please Your Man in Bed” magazine covers that scream at us in the grocery store checkout line, and the “Condoms to Go” billboard that’s been staring at us along a major highway for at least 10 years.   But there was something about a total stranger using my phone lines to yap about a sexual topic in my own home that really got my blood boiling.   Every parent knows when the time is right to explain various things to their children, and I had made a conscious decision that it wasn’t right yet for Emmie, that, at age 7, she wasn’t at the right maturity level and neither was anyone in her class.  I felt like our privacy had just been grossly invaded, and I thought that whatever organization this was might want to re-think their marketing techniques.  And so, heart beating very fast, I called the number in the message.

“I just want you to know that I don’t appreciate you calling my house and leaving a message on this subject because I have young children,” I said, “and I’m not ready for them to hear about this.”  The young guy on the other end immediately copped an attitude, much to my surprise.  “Well, then you should always pick up the phone!” he declared, matter-of-factly. Wow, nothing gets the adrenaline flowing like a smart-ass telemarketer.

“WHAT?” I said, raising my voice.  “Are you kidding me? That’s what an answering machine is for!! I’m a parent! I don’t have time to answer the phone every time it rings!”
Smart-ass telemarketer: “Well, then you should be telling your children about gay marriage.”
And, nothing sends a parent’s anger off the charts like having a telemarketer give them parenting advice. I was so mad at that point, I can’t remember exactly what I said.  I know it involved the words “How dare you” and slamming down the phone.

I stood there in my kitchen, staring at my pile of celery, not believing what had just transpired.  What breed of telemarketer is this, who has the nerve to tell me how to answer the phone and how to raise my kids?? Do they not care anymore whether they make sales or win votes?? And wasn’t he representing a conservative organization who supposedly is concerned about “family values”?  I could have pursued the matter further, but I didn’t want them to waste any more of my time.

We have an answering system now where the messages are left internally, not on a machine. And my child now knows a lot about the birds and the bees and gay marriage– but that’s thanks to me and my timetable, not a telemarketer’s.

1 thought on “Unsolicited Parenting Advice– From A Telemarketer?!

  1. One of the things I’ve done in the past after getting a telemarketer call is look them up and post a complaint on callcatalog.com — one little thing I can give back to society 🙂

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