I am finding that the call display, voicemail, and block caller functions on my cell phone are proving ineffective against those pesky nuisance calls I’m sure we all receive.

If I want my ducts cleaned, I will find a local duct cleaner and arrange it. If there is a problem with my Revenue Canada account, I’m certain I’ll receive an official letter, rather than a call from someone who doesn’t already have my social insurance number and can’t speak French. And – I’m sorry if this seems callous – if I want to donate to the Red Cross or any other charity, I know where to find them.

Call display isn’t very helpful, as I do receive welcome calls from the occasional ‘unknown caller’. Voicemail wards off most telemarketers, but one persistent caller insists on leaving a message, asking to speak to Muhammad Somebody-or-Other. I employ faithfully the block-caller function after each of these unwanted intrusions, but of course the more sophisticated marketers and scammers have more than one number.

When I do answer, I simply hang up on the recorded messages. But, recognizing what a crappy job the live telemarketers have, I try to be polite when I brush them off, imagining how many times they are hung up on, or find themselves on the receiving end of a tirade of verbal abuse. All of this for minimum wage if they’re in Canada, and who knows how little if they’re calling from overseas. In moments of frustration, when the call comes while I’m cooking dinner or I’m engaged in a conversation, I concede that I’ve resorted to hanging up – or engaging in a bit of verbal abuse myself.

I’ve seen some of those YouTube videos where people try to scam the scammers, or at least befuddle them, and some of them are quite clever and amusing. But frankly, I don’t have the energy for it, or the imagination, preferring to free up the phone as quickly as possible.

Turning down the appeals from charitable organizations often leaves me feeling resentful. First of all, I already donate to a number of charities, so I come away feeling guilty for rejecting this new pitch, knowing full well they’re doing good work and their need for support is undoubtedly legitimate. I follow the news, but I’m not Jeff Bezos. It’s even worse when the request is thrown in your face, such as when the cashier at the grocery store or the liquor store asks if I want to donate to a local organization – a group no doubt in need of the financial help. Given that I’ve just spent a bunch of money on food or booze, I feel guilted into it. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, but I feel played either way.

I get especially irritated when a call comes from an organization I already donate to through monthly instalments – and they want even more. This particular pitch begins with an ego-boosting, over-the-top tribute to what a fine and generous human being I am, concluding with an appeal for me to be even finer and more generous. Just when I’m thinking that maybe I am a fine and generous human being, the bubble is burst. It often makes me regret donating to that group in the first place.

Given how good they’ve been to me, I’m normally happy to donate to local hospitals and the universities I’ve attended. But there is a downside here as well. The appeals of these worthy public establishments tell me they’re underfunded and their growing dependency on a community of philanthropists allows the governments that should be providing adequate funding to shirk their responsibilities. I understand that withholding my modest contribution won’t change anything in the big picture, but it’s the principle as they say. Aside from letting governments off the hook, this reliance on charity creates a very uneven playing field for hospitals in relatively low-income settings and younger universities that don’t have the extensive alumni networks that a McGill or Université de Montréal can draw upon. But that’s a rant for another time and place.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for the tele-scammers. Maybe they should be called tele-thieves.

I appreciate that it’s a different case for the legitimate telemarketers, who are only trying to drum up business or charitable donations so that their organization can continue its worthy efforts. But I nonetheless resent the intrusions that their phone calls represent.

You may feel differently, but as for me, I say: Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

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