I was just thinking…………

……………well, stewing, in fact!
I was having a lovely doze on the couch this afternoon, my glasses askew, my novel sliding slowly towards the floor. Hmmm …a peaceful nanny nap. No-one to wake me as they usually do, barging into the room in mid-speak without checking my eyelids first. No Ben to leap up onto my chest, dropping his favourite sloppy toy onto my mouth. No Scampi meowing in my face wanting her seventh meal for the day. Just nice, quiet bliss. And then, amid waves of lovely zzzzzzz’s the ringing phone rent the air, loud and clear and urgent.
We’re such slaves to the phone, aren’t we? We allow its insistent ring to interrupt anything we’re in the middle of. It’s such a RUDE little apparatus. There’s no ‘H’hem ‘scuse me, are you busy ?..When you’re ready….’
On the contrary, it’s ‘Hey YOU, front and centre, on the double….Drop everything! RUN!’ And if it’s a portable phone, it’s even worse! ….“Ha ha you’ve got to find me first…over here……no here… no under here…. ...hurry up….too late… na na I’ll ring again as soon as you’ve got your hands in the flour!”

But I’m digressing, slightly. Back to the couch. So the phone rang and I shot up out of my lovely doze, rolled off the couch, tripped over my novel, kicked my glasses and lurched for the receiver with a croaky ‘hello?’
It was someone trying to sell me roll-a-doors! Roll-a-doors! That was the fourth sales call I’d had since the previous evening. Those had been for a ‘better phone plan’, a ‘better banking system’, and, oh yes, ‘the opportunity to win a new Lotus’. For Heaven’s sake, doesn’t it make your blood boil? Two of those calls had originated in India of all places, and I could barely make out a word they were saying. (Not that they got much of a chance to speak!)
I’d better not get on my soap box about legislation and laws and invasion of privacy etc, but honestly, it’s tempting. Instead I’ll tell you about an incident that happened to me some time ago. I think of it on such occasions as today and it soon puts a silly grin on my face.

Many years ago, back in the early 80’s actually, I moved into my brand new house in the outer ‘burbs. No sooner had I erected a letterbox, than I was absolutely inundated with a daily deluge of sales literature. And as soon as my phone was connected, it started to ring itself off the hook. I was offered the best deals in everything from carpets and landscaping to saunas, swimming pools, pest control, time-shares, you name it! And one very persistent company would phone me on an alarmingly regular basis, trying to tempt me with ceiling insulation. This mob was so daring in the pursuit of their quarry, that even after the most extreme rudeness from me, they still had the courage to continue their calls. I really felt my rudeness was warranted because they had some hide. It was as if they had a little camera installed in my garage. They knew exactly when I got home at night. I’m sure they saw me as I struggled in the door, balancing bags of groceries and a baby, and they’d wait a little while. When I was in the middle of washing nappies, cooking dinner, bathing baby and trying to catch the news, the phone would ring and it would be them. THEM! Trying to convince me that they knew what was best for me, and that they would ‘look after me’. I didn’t even know what company it was, so little interest did I have in their product, oh but I knew the voice!
Finally, I cracked – and demanded to speak to their manager, who, after being on the wrong end of my fevered wrath, tearfully promised to cross me off their list and regretfully put me down as a ‘failure to sell’.
After that, they finally left me alone, and my paranoia did, eventually, fade.

Several months passed, and after experiencing the worst of a bitter winter, and the worst of the following deadly summer, I began to grudgingly accept the possibility that those intrepid salesmen had had, in fact, a point. Insulation could indeed be just what I needed. I got the yellow pages, picked out a company and arranged for someone to get back to me.
One evening, several weeks later, I came home from work in the usual manner, with bags of groceries, a toddler, sore feet and tired bones. I had dinner on the stove, the washing machine churning, slippery bathed toddler wrapped in my arms….and the phone rang.
‘Hello Mrs Spencer, this is…..’ Oh my GOD, all my nightmares returned. All my horrors revisited! For that was the voice! My blood pounded in my ears and boiled over. I took a big, deep breath and bellowed ‘Oh No! Not Again. I thought this was OVER. Get me your manager, RIGHT NOW! I don’t believe this! And as I paused for another intake of breath, nearly sucking in the curtains in my fury, a plaintive, trembling voice reaching my outraged ears. ‘But Mrs Spencer……Mrs Spencer…”
‘Mrs Spencer’ came the timid falsetto……. Mrs Spencer YOU rang US! I’m – I’m just returning your call!’
I was gobsmacked – for a minute - and then I started to giggle. And the giggles turned to hoots of embarrassed laughter as I slid down the wall and sat on my bum in paroxysms. I gulped and giggled and finally managed to apologise. I told him he’d better ring back when I’d gotten a grip, and for once he hung up before I did. I gave him credit for bravery though, he DID ring back and the happy outcome was that they did indeed ‘look after me’.

Oh! Hyacinth Bucket, eat your heart out!


Lori Spencer