April 17th, 2021



Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Jan. 19, 2018


First annoyance on our list today is with gardeners. But before you accuse me of being a gardener-phobe, I assure you I have nothing against gardeners in general, they perform a valuable function and their job is honest work. When they are really good they are worth their weight in gold, or least goldenrods. But when they're not. . .

There should be a special prison set up for gardeners who purposely blow their leaves across the street onto someone else's property. I'm not talking about the one or two stray leaves here and there, no, I'm talkin' all the leaves. So many gardeners do it and do it brazenly that I wonder if they truly think that is what they're supposed to do. Are they really that stupid? Or are they simply lazy inconsiderate jerks? Which is it? It's got to be one or the other; there are no other reasons for this action.

What can be done about all the unsolicited robocalls that keep coming in to our phones? You all know what that is, companies and organizations that use computerized autodialers to get you to answer the phone so they can sell you something that you don't want. Sometimes the message is pre recorded, other times a live person will get on the phone after you have said "hello," and begins the sales pitch by addressing you by name.

You can always tell the robocall because when you answer the first thing you hear is sort of a bubble sound on the other end and many times it takes quite a while for the solicitor to get on the phone. Lots of times you can hear many voices in the background so you know they're part of a phone bank.

Many phones today are able to let you know who is calling or at least what number is calling, which at least gives you a hint that the incoming call isn't from someone you know. When the call is from a name or number you don't recognize you have to decide how to handle it. There are only 4 ways.

One way is to answer them politely and just say "No thank you." The drawback to this is that you must put up with the sales pitch and the phony I'm-your-friend greeting that goes something like "Hey, Greg, how are you doing today?" Don't you just love it?

(By the way, I'm told that you must never say the word "Yes" to the caller because they can record that and use it against you to as proof that you agreed to purchase something or other.)

Another way to deal with intrusive calls is to simply not answer at all and let the answering machine deal with it. Most of the time if the robo doesn't hear a human voice answer, it will click off without leaving a message. Unfortunately you have to put up with the ringing until it switches to your voicemail. Of course, if the incoming call is someone you know, they will leave you a message and you can call them back.

A third way is to answer and hang up right away without interacting with the caller. Don't wait for a voice, just pick up and hang up. There are two advantages to this; it instantly stops the incessant ringing and you never have to hear a sales pitch.

Then we have the fourth choice. You stop the sales pitch immediately and say, "I don't want to buy what you're selling so take me off your call list and don't call here any more." Then you must hang up right away before the caller can respond to you otherwise they will keep pitching.

Actually there is a fifth way to handle unwanted calls. Depending on my mood, I sometimes rather enjoy using this one. I call it fighting back. Essentially you play along with the solicitor giving him or her a bad time. In other words, wasting their time just as they have wasted yours with the unwanted phone call. You might use a fake accent in you voice or pretend to be a complete moron. Or you might just give outrageous answers to their questions. Continue with this charade until either you've had enough fun or the caller catches on and hangs up.

Unfortunately there is no way I know of to completely stop annoying unsolicited telephone calls. Maybe that's why so many people today opt not to have landline phones in their home. Too bad for them. They don't know what fun they're missing by not pretending to be a confused Russian with a stutter who can't understand the salesperson.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.