Telemarketers Are Homing In On You

| Working | July 3, 2017

(I get my first phone at 14 on a family line paid by my godfather. I am very shy, polite, and over-courteous, never do any prank calling, and am not really a troublemaker at all. At the time, my family consists of my sister, mother, and me, and we are homeless and living in our car. I am not used to having my cell phone, and no-one ever calls but my family, so when it rings I don’t think to look at the caller ID and immediately answer.)

Me: “Hello?”

Telemarketer: “Hello there! Are you the head of the household?”

Me: “Who are—”

Telemarketer: “I’m [Name] from [Company], calling about a great deal.”

Me: “I’m sorry, who exactly—”

Telemarketer: “I’m glad you asked! You see…”

(At this point, I am nervous and unsure what to do when interrupted, so I just stay quiet. He launches into a long and drawn-out sales pitch that never mentions a specific product or what he’s actually selling. While he’s talking I decide it would probably be best to go with it and just tell him I’m not interested.)

Telemarketer: “So what do you think? Doesn’t that sound like an amazing deal?”

Me: “It… sure does, sir, but what exactly is it for?”

Telemarketer: “Oh, why, a home security company, of course! Your property is very valuable to us, and…”

(He starts rattling off a bunch of things about home ownership that I knew absolutely nothing about. I am getting frustrated and just want him off the phone, so I say the first thing that comes to my mind.)

Me: “You said a home security company?”

Telemarketer: “Yes, I did!”

Me: “I don’t have a home. I mean not in the sense that I don’t own property or I’m not the head of the household, but I literally don’t have a place to live. I don’t think you’re going to get very far talking to me. I’m sorry.”

(At this point, my mother’s head whips around. There’s dead silence both in the car and on the line; you could hear a pin drop. I panic and hang up.)

Mom: “Who the h*** was that?”

Me: “Uh, it was a telemarketer for a home security company, I think.”

Mom: “Why on earth did you tell him that!?”

Me: “I… I didn’t know what to do! It just slipped out!”

(The car was filled with my mother’s uproarious laughter. She told our whole extended family about the event, and everyone got a kick out of it. The same representative called back several times in the next few weeks, and I stuck to telling him I was homeless. I don’t know if he expected me to suddenly buy a house or something, but it took my mother calling through three supervisors to get my number taken off. I’m turning 21 this year, my sister and I are going to college, and my family is safe and warm in a cozy apartment together, but I still remember the silly, random stuff that made such a hard time for us so much easier to handle.)

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