Sorry. Mr. She-a, my name is Bob, and I'm calling from . . .
Yo, hold up a second there, Bob. What's your last name?
Oh, like the wine, right?
Hey, you weren't the guy who called last week selling the previously owned chickens?
Someone tried to sell you used chickens over the phone?
Yeah, and they were supposed to be here by now. Anyway, what can I do for you there, Mr. Bob Re-u-nightie?
It's not what you can do for me, Mr. She-a, it's what I can do for you. Mr. She-a (reading from script), because of your outstanding credit rating I am authorized to offer you . . .
Bob, hold on for a second. Mind if I ask you something?
Did you always want to be a telemarketer?
I mean, was this kind of like a calling, so to speak? You know, did something happen when you were a kid to make you think: Telemarketing, yes, this will be my contribution to mankind.
I'm not sure I understand . . .
Let me put it this way: Kid finds an injured bird, fixes its wing, makes him want to be a vet. Or a girl gets the lead in her third-grade play, has to be an actress. Did you, I don't know, ruin some family's dinner one night and decide right then and there: Man, I want to do this for a living?
Actually, I do remember . . .
Never mind, Bob, go ahead. You were saying . . .
Right, Mr. She-a, because of your outstanding credit rating I am authorized to offer you a chance to get involved in an exciting adventure capital opportunity . . .
Whoa, Bob. Adventure capital? You sure you don't mean venture capital?
Um, I don't know. Is there a difference?
Good point, Bob.
Mr. She-a, if you will just give me your Visa card number right now . . .
Bob, jeez, I'm sorry. Can I ask you just one more thing?
You purposely call people when they're eating, right?
That's when they're home.
And I assume you run into a lot of hostility.
There's a lot of hate out there, man.
Doesn't that get to you?
Nah, someone slams the receiver down, you just have the computer dial up the next number. There's only one thing that really annoys, really aggravates a telemarketer.
People who waste your time, you know, keep you on the phone for a long time and then don't buy anything.
Shea is a columnist at the Hartford Courant. To reach him, write to Jim Shea, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.