one thing that has always bugged me, and i'm sure it does most of you, is to sit down at the dinner table only to be interrupted by a phone call from a telemarketer. i decided, on one such occasion, to try to be as irritating as they were to me. the call was from at&t and it went something like this:

me: hello?
at&t: hello, this is at&t...
me: is this at&t?
at&t: yes, this is at&t...
me: this is at&t?
at&t: yes, this is at&t...
me: is this at&t?
at&t: YES! this is at&t, may i speak to mr o'shea please?
me: may i ask who is calling?
at&t: this is at&t.
me: okay, hold on.

at this point i put the phone down for a solid 5 minutes thinking that, surely, this person would have hung up the phone. i ate my salad. much to my surprise, when i picked up the receiver, they were still waiting.

me: hello?
at&t: is this mr o'shea?
me: may i ask who is calling please?
at&t: yes this is at&t...
me: is this at&t?
at&t: yes this is at&t...
me: this is at&t?
at&t: yes, is this mr o'shea?
me: yes, is this at&t?
at&t: yes sir.
me: the phone company?
at&t: yes sir.
me: i thought you said this was at&t.
at&t: yes sir, we are a phone company.
me: i already have a phone.
at&t: we aren't selling phones today mr o'shea
me: well whatever it is, i'm really not interested but thanks for calling.

when you are not interested in something, i don't think you can express yourself any plainer than by saying "i'm really not interested," but this lady was persistent.

at&t: mr o'shea, we would like to offer you 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

now, i am sure she meant she was offering a "rate" of 10 cents a minute, but she at no time used the word "rate." i could clearly see that it was time to whip out the trusty old calculator and do a little ciphering.

me: now, that's 10 cents a minute 24 hours a day?
at&t: *getting a little excited at this point by my interest* yes sir, that's right! 24 hours a day!
me: 7 days a week?
at&t: that's right.
me: 365 days a year?
at&t: yes sir.
me: i am definitely interested in that! whoa! that's amazing!
at&t: we think so!
me: that's quite a sum of money!
at&t: yes sir, it's amazing how it adds up.
me: okay, so will you send me cheques weekly, monthly or just one big one at the end of the year for the full $52,560, and if you send an annual cheque, can i get a cash advance?
at&t: excuse me?
me: you know, the 10 cents a minute.
at&t: what are you talking about?
me: you said you'd give me 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. that comes to $144 per day, $1,008 per week and $52,560 per year. i'm just interested in knowing how you will be making payment.
at&t: oh no, sir, i didn't mean we'd be paying you. you pay us 10 cents minute.
me: wait a minute here! didn't you say you'd give me 10 cents a minute? are you sure this is AT&T?
at&t: well, yes this is at&t sir but......
me: but nothing, how do you figure that by saying that you'll give me 10 cents a minute that i'll give you 10 cents a minute? is this some kind of subliminal telemarketing scheme? i've read about things like this in the enquirer, you know. don't use your alien brainwashing techniques on me.
at&t: no sir, we are offering 10 cents a minute for...
me: THERE YOU GO AGAIN! can i speak to a supervisor please!
at&t: sir, i don't think that is necessary.
me: sure! you say that now! what happens later?
at&t: WHAT?
me: i insist on speaking to a supervisor!
at&t: yes, mr o'shea. please hold.

so now at&t has me on hold and my supper is going cold. i begin to eat while i'm waiting for a supervisor. After a wait of a few minutes and while i have a mouth full of food:

supervisor: mr o'shea?
me: yes?
supervisor: i understand you are not quite understanding our 10 cents a minute program.
me: is this at&t?
supervisor: yes sir, it sure is.

i had to swallow before i choked on my food. it was all i could do to suppress my laughter.

me: no, actually, i was just waiting for someone to get back to me so that i could sign up for the plan.
supervisor: okay, no problem, i'll transfer you back to the person who was helping you.
me: thank you.

i was on hold once again and managed a few more mouthfuls. i needed to end this conversation. suddenly, there was an aggravated but polite voice at the other end of the phone.

at&t: hello mr o'shea, i understand that you are interested in signing up for our plan?
me: do you have that friends and family thing because you can never have enough friends and i'm an only child and i'd really like to have a little brother...
at&t: (click)