I’m one of the few people who enjoy receiving calls from telemarketers. It drives my wife crazy, but I just love taking up as much of their time as I can. The key to prolonging a telemarketing call is acting stupid. I’ve become so successful at it that my wife says it’s not really an act. She may be right, but I enjoy myself anyway. I know I’ve succeeded when I get the service rep to put the manager on the line.
The first time I ever got the manager was probably twenty five years ago, and remains one of my favorite calls ever. It’s not verbatim, but the call went something like this:
My phone rang, and the voice on the other end said, “Congratulations, Mr. Gourdoux, your name was selected, and you’ve just won a free charcoal grill!”
“That’s great!,” I replied. “I was just going to buy one.”
“Well, now you won’t have to. We’re going to have a representative in …”
“I just love to barbecue,” I interrupted. “Don’t you?”
“Yes, sir, now we’re …”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Shirley,” she cheerfully replied.
“Well, Shirley. I love hamburgers on the grill. And brats. And hot dogs.”
“Yes, sir, so do I. Now as I was saying …”
“And ribs! How can I forget about ribs! “
“Yes, sir, now, we’re going to have a representative in your area giving estimates on new windows. We can bring the grill with us when we come out to give you your free estimate.”
“Ribs with the right sauce, wow, I can almost taste them already.”
“Yes sir, now when shall we come out to give you your free estimate on windows?”
“I’m sorry, I just purchased new windows. Plus I’m working pretty late these days. You can just leave my free grill on my front porch.”
“Sir, I’m sorry, we can’t do that.”
“I just remembered, a smoked Kielbasa is really good cooked on a grill. Have you ever had kielbasa?”
“No, I don’t ….”
“Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s like a polish ring bologna. It’s really good grilled. In fact, now that I think about it, that’ll probably be the first thing I grill on my new grill.”
“Sir, I must …”
“When will they deliver it?”
“Well, sit we’ll have some representatives in your neighborhood next week.”
“When can we give you your free estimate on new windows?
“I’m sorry, like I was saying, I just installed all new windows. Just tell them to drop the grill off on my front porch.”
“Sir, I’m sorry, we can’t ….”
“Wow, what a lucky day. I don’t normally win anything. And now I’ve won a grill, of all things.”
“Sir, you have to talk to one of our estimators.”
“Have you ever grilled salmon? That’s something I’d like to learn how to do.”
“Sir, you have to talk to one of our estimators in order to get the grill.”
“Estimators? Estimators of what?”
“Windows, sir. I told you that you have to receive a free estimate for new windows in order to receive your grill.”
“I’m sorry, I thought I made it clear, I just installed new windows. I wouldn’t want to waste any of your time. Just drop the grill off next week and leave it on my front porch. “
“Sir, we cannot just drop the grill off. “
“Well, is there a place where I can come pick it up?”
“Pick it up. If you can’t deliver it, maybe I could drive to your distribution center and claim it there.”
“Sir, how are we going to give you an estimate on new windows if we don’t come out to your home?”
“An estimate for new windows?”
“Yes, that’s right; you get a free grill in return for us providing you with an estimate for new windows.”
“Yeah, isn’t that what they call it when you cook those skewers of vegetables and meat over the grill? Shish-ka-bob?”
“I don’t know, sir. Now, in order to get your free grill, you have to let us give you an estimate on new windows.”
“So when do you think you’ll deliver my grill? How about next Thursday?
“You’d like to speak to one of our estimators next Thursday?”
“Oh, no, I won’t be home next Thursday. We’re going out of town for a long weekend. You can just drop the grill off on my front porch, I’ll tell my neighbor to keep an eye out for it. I can’t wait to tell him I’ve won a free grill!”
“Mr. Gourdoux, we cannot drop the grill off!”
“Tell me, does my new grill include a warming tray? Because a warming tray can really come in handy …”
“Mr. Gourdoux, let me put you on hold.”
I then listened to some tape recorded music. When I was off of hold, there was another woman on the line.
“Mr. Gourdoux,” she started. She sounded firm.
“Hello, who is this?” I asked. “You don’t sound like Shirley.”
“This is Shirley’s manager.”
“Oh, well, Shirley’s doing a great job. She explained to me how I won a new grill!”
“Mr. Gourdoux …”
“I can’t wait to try it out! I’m going to get some steaks and marinate them. You ever …”
“MR GOURDOUX,” she asserted. “YOU HAVE NOT WON A GRILL!”
“What are you talking about? Shirley said …”
“I don’t care what Shirley said, you HAVE NOT WON A GRILL.”
“Hot dogs, hamburgers …”
Click. Shirley’s manager finally hung up on me.
. . .
My all-time favorite was the call trying to sell me a credit card, I think it was a Visa card. It was sometime during the 1990s. I listened very patiently to the woman’s long winded spiel, agreeing to everything, expressing my interest in the card. Then it was time to close the deal.
“Now, I just need to confirm some basic information,” she said. “Your name is David Gourdoux?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“And that’s spelled, D-A-V-I-D, G-O-U-R-D-O-U-X?”
“Well, that’s close. It’s actually spelled I-G-O-R, S-T-R-A-V-I-N-S-K-Y”
“Your name is Igor Stravinsky?”
“It’s spelled Igor Stravinsky, but it’s pronounced David Gourdoux.” I’d used this gag before, and it always ended up with the agent slamming down the phone in disgust. Not this time. The woman was going to close the deal no matter what.
“And your address is 99999 99th Avenue, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin?” (the nines are placeholders for my real address.)
“Close,” I said again.
“When you’re ready, sir, give me the correct address”
“Okay, “ I said, “It’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.” The address of the white house. I could hear her type away. When she was done, she told me that my new card would be mailed out to me in a week or two.
I know I screwed up the zip code, but that didn’t keep me from imagining Bill Clinton opening up the mail one day to find a Visa card with Igor Stravinsky’s name on it.