Hello Mr. Oxford

When I’m not talking about socks I also plan to post favoured snippets of writing from my journal. Like this:


Hello Mr. Oxford

“Is Ms Oxford there?” asked a voice on the other end of my phone.

“Who is calling please?”

“Abbey National Bank.”

Abby National, I thought to myself, Caroline and I used to have an account with Abby National. Maybe there is some money out there I have forgotten about. “Is this about an account owned by Ms. Oxford or are you trying to sell something?” I asked in my nicest voice.

“It’s about a credit card,” she replied

Oh oh, maybe there is some debt I have forgotten about. “Is this about a credit card that Ms Oxford owes money on?” I asked a bit more forcefully

“I really must speak to Ms Oxford.”

“Well,” I said taking my customary deep breath, “Caroline died in January. Is this about an account she owned?”

“No It’s a new credit card we are offering.”

“Oh well I guess you should take her off your mailing list – goodbye.”

“Wait!” the woman on the other end of the phone implored.

“Yes?” I said.

“This offer is only good to the end of the month.”

It is actually quite rare for a telephone salesperson to try and continue to sell my wife something after they have been told that she is dead – but it doesn’t stop them from calling. Somewhere in the past Caroline signed up for free kitchen knives or something and got her name on every phone calling list in the UK (and some from the USA.) I get at least a call a day offering replacement windows or informing me that we have won a holiday in Florida. Since Caroline didn’t take my name when we were married, I can usually tell right away when a person on the other end of the phone is a tele-salesperson, when they address me as “Mr. Oxford.”

“Close enough,” I answer, “what are you selling?”

“I’m not selling anything sir, I’m offering you a free evaluation on our state of the art PVC windows.”

“So your selling windows then?”.

“No sir I am just offering you a free evaluation on new windows.”

I suspect that somewhere along the line these poor telesales people have been instructed never to admit that they are selling something. I treat it as my goal in life to make them admit it.

“And after the evaluation” I insist, “you will quote me a price – so in fact you are selling windows.”

“No sir I am only offering a FREE evaluation.”

I love it when I get a feisty one. When you get a young woman who hates her job and a housecleaning widower with too much time on his hands, this conversation can go on for fifteen minutes. You would be surprised how often I lose.

Tormenting telesales people is a long-time hobby of mine. One of my favourite ploys is to ask the person on the other end of the phone if they can hold for a minute and then put them on speaker phone and continue to go about whatever I was doing – just to see how long they will hang on. My son has become a fan too. Since the age of six I have been handing the phone to him whenever a caller asks to speak to the home owner.

I have to go now, the phone just rang. There is someone on the other end who wants to sell my late wife some life insurance. This should be interesting.


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