The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Column: When the phone rings I cringe


November 1, 2017

Despite the fact the volume is turned down as low as it can go, when the phone rings at the office it sounds like the town siren is going off about five feet from me. I should really invest in a new phone because it honestly does startle me and I cringe whenever anyone calls. I know getting phone calls is part of the job, but there have been plenty of times I wanted to throw it against the wall because of how violently loud it is.

It is even worse when Melissa or myself picks up the phone and someone who can barely speak English says, “Can I please speak with the business owner”.

Not only did I nearly pee my pants because the phone was so loud, it was for no reason. This happens at least two to three times a day and there is no way to stop it. No matter how many times I try to rectify the situation with the “Do Not Call List”, the calls keep coming.

I’m probably going to get a few phone calls after someone reads this just so they can smile as I answer the phone in pure panic because my eardrums have been pierced. I sure hope this isn’t the case, but sometimes I just ask for it.

Thinking of these wonderful phone calls got me to thinking of the shortest job in my life. When I was in high school, a telemarketing firm opened in my home town and getting a job there seemed to be the “hip” thing to do. Everyone talked about it like it was the best thing since sliced bread and how much money they were making with “bonuses”. To be honest, at this age I really didn’t know much about telemarketing because I never really answered the phone, nor like many teenagers spent hours on it. I would occasionally be getting to know a girl and have that awkward four hour long conversation that included a lot awkward silences and learning way to much about her family life and a dog named Jasmine.

A couple of my friends encouraged me to get a job with them, and I figured why not. I had a couple jobs in high school and they were all awful. Working at fast food is not a fun task at all. No matter what job you have in the establishment, you go home smelling like grease and it does not go away. The great part about a job in high school was the money, so I decided to give it a shot.

I was elated when the interview took about three minutes and was offered a job on the spot. Looking back, I should have been weary, because they could have cared less what I had to say, they just wanted me to get on the phone to make them money.

I received no training. I was given a script and told to call people. The only thing they really showed me was to get their payment information. For the life of me, I can’t remember what I was selling, but I remember my first few phone calls. After the first person hung up on me, the second person informed me there pet had just died (hope it wasn’t Jasmine), and asked how dare I call them while they were grieving. I responded something like “So would you still be interested in the purchase?”, and I sure got a mouth full after that. On my next call, a man answered and quickly diverted a possible purchase into telling me about his life. Perhaps he had no one to talk to, I’m not sure but he kept me on the line for about 30 minutes. I can remember a deep conversation about how know one in his family ever invites him to outings, and I truly felt bad for the guy. My supervisor came up to me and was not happy about the length of the call and yelled at me.

I hate when bosses yell, because for me it never does any good. He was saying that I had been on the floor for an hour and had yet to make a sale. He told me to just follow the script and do nothing else.

In just three phone calls, I knew I wouldn’t make it past day one, and after being yelled at by a guy with a mullet, I could not take it any longer.

Shortly after he threw the script at me, I handed it back to him and told him he could put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

I really need to remember when I get a phone call from someone selling something, just how bad that job is. Perhaps we could have a nice talk about family even if I’m not buying anything.


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