†††† According to a recent survey conducted by a group of people with nothing better to do, telemarketers are the biggest scourge on the country today. I agree with these findings. Perhaps this is because Iíd rather not even talk on the phone to people I do know. Nor do I like to talk to people I know even if they are standing right in front of me.


†††† I donít think the telemarketers actually want to talk to anyone either. I imagine that they have been instructed to call every home in the country, listen to each answering machine, then hang up. I would like to send an electrical current of perhaps 50,000 international volts Greenwich Mean Time through the phone line, just to get their attention, and also to injure them. But I suspect that may be illegal.


†††††† Given that I have an inordinate amount of free time on my hands, I am able to ponder the possible motivation a person might have for becoming a telemarketer. I have decided that one obvious perk to the position is that it allows ample time for hijinks. After extensive research, I am now able to reconstruct a typical telemarketerís shift:


  1. Call Joe Smith 24 times. Do not leave message.


  1. Goof on telemarketer in next cubicle.


  1. Send paper airplane over to next cubicle.


  1. Punch out.


  1. Punch out guy in next cubicle.


†††† It is particularly maddening when (and this is proof telemarketers donít really want to speak to you at all) a business doesnít even bother to use an actual human to place the call. The non-human has no problem leaving a message. I remember when, back before his life became complicated, Mike Tyson called me. He had a legitimate reason. He was fighting that weekend and he wanted to leave a message just for me! So I came home and there was Tysonís voice on my answering machine, ordering me to watch his fight on HBO. When I discovered it was not actually the champ but rather a mere recording, I felt duped. At least he couldíve had the courtesy to call me himself. Ah but he was probably busy with problems of his own.


†††† I can thank telemarketers for one thing. Because of them I have not answered the phone for the last decade. In fact my goal is a phone that never rings again. I assumed that the words on my answering machine were duly discouraging: ďLeave a message. If your message concerns injury to life or limb, leave a message on someone elseís machine. If the news is even worse, hang up now. Do not call back. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.Ē


††††† The message has not fazed the telemarketers. But it has scared off everyone else.