Cuddling with Telemarketers

I think I’m the only person in the world who looks forward to calls from telemarketers. Rather than find them obtrusive, I see them as opportunities for entertainment.

Because I love screwing with these people.

Somehow, I wound up on an online pharmacy’s call list. They have been phoning me repeatedly for a couple of years now, usually trying to sell me Viagra. (Hey! Do they know something I don’t?). I looked these guys up and there are complaints a mile long from other people being harassed in a similar manner; a typical comment reads, I’ve gotten repeated calls for prescriptions. I even got ugly with the gal after repeatedly telling her not to call again. Now I’m really ticked, that don’t stop no matter how angry I get with them. So it’s not just me. They blatantly ignore the Do Not Call registry and are very sneaky, calling from multiple phone numbers with ever-changing area codes. Blocking one number doesn’t help. It is beyond annoying.

Or used to be, anyway. In the past, I tried kindly asking them to remove me from their list. And then demanding it. Then I just ignored the calls, but they happen at least once, every single day, without fail. Short of changing my number (which I refuse to do – I like my phone #!), there is nothing I can do to stop them. So I decided, instead, to have fun with them.

What part of “no” don’t you understand??

Take today, for instance. They called with their usual spiel. I feigned interest. They asked me for my billing address, and I told them I was homeless. They asked for my shipping address next, so I said, “I suppose you can reach me c/o the 12th Street underpass – because that’s where I’m sleeping tonight!”

Still, they persisted. “Sir, I sympathize with your position and am prepared to offer you a generous discount on this order.”

“How kind of you,” I replied. “But seeing as how I have no roof over my head and am panhandling for change and digging through garbage cans for maggot-infested scraps of food, I think I’ll pass!”

In the background, my coworkers were having conniption fits. I don’t even know what a “conniption fit” is, but they were having ‘em.

Finally, the lady on the phone got the hint, wished me well, and hung up. But you know what? They’ll call tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. I’d bet my life on it.

So, I’ll just continue to come up with increasingly outlandish tales.

Yesterday when they called to offer me Viagra, I said I’d pass, but – dropping my voice to a conspiratorial tone – asked if they might be able to set me up with some marijuana instead.

“Sir, we only deal in legal drugs.”

“But I wanna get high!” I persisted.

“I’m sure you can buy that stuff anywhere,” they responded.

At least that guy had a sense of humor.

I’ve tried many other tactics. Acted like I was going deaf (“What’s that? You want to sell me a trip to NIAGARA Falls? Oh. Pillows. Sorry. What kind of pillows?”). Spoke in an invented language, responding to every sentence with nonsense gibberish.  Pretended I was gay once and asked the “sexy sounding beefcake” on the line if he’d take me on a date if I bought some Viagra, promising I’d cuddle with him afterwards. I was overly enthusiastic once, asking if they sold these pills by the case (“I’m quite the player, my friend!”) and could they just back a semi truck up to my driveway and unload them that way. But my favorite conversation of all time happened when I decided to play it straight…right up until the very end.

Yes, I told them, I would like to order some pills. We discussed different options. Went over billing and shipping addresses (fake ones, of course) and delivery details. And then, it came time to pay for my order.

“What is your credit card number, sir?”
“OK, it’s a VISA. Are you ready?”
“Yes, go right ahead.”
Long pause. “Please continue, sir.”
“I’m sorry, continue?”
“I’ll need the full credit card number.”
“I just gave it to you.”
“I’m sorry, I only caught 7.”
“That’s right. When can I expect this order?”
“Sir, the credit card number should be sixteen digits long.”
“I’m holding the card right here in my hand. The number is 7.”
“That’s impossible.”
“No, it isn’t. I remember when I signed up, they told me I was the seventh person to ever receive this VISA card!”
A much longer pause, followed by a very exasperated, “Have you enjoyed wasting my time?”
“Quite a bit! Have you enjoyed wasting mine?!” And  hung up triumphantly.

I felt giddy afterwards.

Is this a mean thing to do? Absolutely not. I have given these people every opportunity to remove me from their database. Asking, pleading, demanding, and threatening have done nothing. They all speak in difficult-to-understand foreign accents and are often rude and unprofessional. Turnabout is fair play. So, keep on calling. I’m a Taurus, which means I’m stubborn. Plus, I’m creative. That’s a deadly combination. In the words of Dirty Harry, go ahead. Make my day.

What is your strategy for dealing with telemarketers?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

25 thoughts on “Cuddling with Telemarketers

  1. “(“What’s that? You want to sell me a trip to NIAGARA Falls? Oh. Pillows. Sorry. What kind of pillows?”

    ““No, it isn’t. I remember when I signed up, they told me I was the seventh person to ever receive this VISA card!”

    Bwhahahahahahha! Freakin’ HILARIOUS, Mark!!!

    You’re MUCH better than me. I don’t even answer my phone unless I know the number on caller ID. And it’s funny because I get about 7-8 telemarketer calls in the morning, and about the same amount at night. I just don’t answer them 🙂


  2. Oh my….talk about laughing till I almost peed my pants….LOLFR!!

    I really don’t/didn’t have a strategy for telemarketers. Until now! While I don’t get many on the ol’ landline, I have yet to get any on my cell phone. I shudder when I think about that! However, now that I am armed with some pretty good ammunition, I should be good to go!

    You really are hilarious, Mark!

    Thanks for making me laugh!!


  3. Hilarious Mark! A conniption fit is a hissy fit kicked up a notch. I am a fit pitcher from waaaay back. 🙂 I use caller ID. We too are on the, oh so easy to ignore because there seems to be no real penalty for violation, Do Not Call registry. Yesterday Akin For Senate came up on my caller ID. Of course I didn’t answer, but there was a message. It was some recorded nonsense from Mike Huckabee saying, I kid you not, this is Mike Huckabee and I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you personally…OMG! Spamming my voice mail with a recorded message is not the same as speaking to me personally.
    The # is 202-810-0366. Go ahead have some fun.


    1. Thanks for straightening me out on what a “conniption fit” is. And don’t even get me started on prerecorded robot calls. Those are the worst, because they don’t care if you make up some elaborate story about being homeless.


      1. Yeah, I guess the cyborgs, which I think maybe most career politicians are, really do limit the possibilities for “fun”, don’t they?
        I am a charter member of the Fit Pitcher’s Society!


  4. Ok, I actually think this is hysterical! I shouldn’t condone your behavior, but I do. I thought I was bad, but you have me beat. My parents always got a lot of calls, and the telemarketers NEVER pronounced our last name correctly – Surely, it must be Wilkins, or Watkins, or once WOOLkins??? – So I would do a lot of “There’s no one here by that name.” “I’m sorry, they died.”

    But my favorite is when the Republican party called for my dad, and I’d tell them “Yaaaaah, um, he’s a Democrat now!” My dad is still really right wing, but I had fun aggravating him and those callers who’d be shocked and appalled!


    1. I’ve actually used “I’m sorry, but Mark died” before! Forgot to write about that one. I received their sincerest condolences.

      And then the next morning, they called again looking for me.



  5. Wow this post cracked me up. You are so funny. I wanted to be mad at you… Because I used to be a telemarketer myself. And a person like you would piss me off! But your stories are too creative to be too mad 🙂
    Just note though… It’s possible they aren’t purposefully not taking you off the list. Sometimes I would take someone off and they’d come up again. It was an error in the system or that the company I worked with bought a bad list. That wasn’t my fault. So I’d be upset if someone did waste my time and cost me a sale if I wasn’t to blame….
    Just gotta share another perspective 🙂


    1. It’s always nice to have another perspective, Catherine. I appreciate you sharing that. As for this company, I have zero sympathy for anybody who works there. Today, I’m going to answer as the “Clark County Sheriff’s Department.” We’ll see where that one goes.


  6. Hubby is a Taurus & I KNOW how stubborn they can be! We don’t get as many telemarketers here in Canada as you do in the States. You can phone a certain number & have your number placed on the “Do Not Call” list. It is up to the telemarketer to keep up with who is on the do not call list, not keeping up to date on the list is not a defense. And the RCMP will proceed with charges here. Hubby & I also do not have a land line, so it helps.


  7. My strategy is much more boring. I don’t pick up calls unless I recognize the phone number that shows up on caller ID. I’m not nearly as energetic as you are – but I am entertained by your perseverance.


  8. I once told someone that “Kerri had freaked out on acid, destroyed the house, got arrested and was now in rehab.” Silence. And then….they asked who I was and tried to con me into buying something. Silly telemarketers!!


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