I don’t recognize the number.
Because I’m waiting for a call, I answer. A pleasant male voice asks, “may I speak with Frances?”
Due to a cold and complicated bunch of other things, my voice barely registers as human. But I plod on and in a tone that’s close to the Low E string on a guitar, I ask, “Who’s calling?”
He hesitates a nanosecond, gives the name of my bank, then adds, “it’s a courtesy call.”
A bell chimes in my head.
A courtesy is an act of politeness, like someone opening a door for someone else, or, when something is given free of charge to people who are already paying for something, like the repair shop giving a client a loaner car at no charge. How is it that the selling tactic of a call at home at night can be warped into something that a sane person would consider a courtesy?
The word who is in relation to a reference to a living, breathing being.
In this dimension of our consensus reality, acknowledging the malleability of the English language, a bank is a corporation and a corporation is not a who, it’s a what. I do not give a flying magic toadstool for greedy sleight-of-handers or the cabal of warped concisioners whittling away at laws and language for the insidious intellectual thrill of Poof! Turned a corporation into a Who! High-Fives all around!
Oh, and about the cabal of warped concisioners: take away words with which to describe things and the ability to express, describe, communicate, convey in words our feelings and experiences and our ability to create connection and togetherness and meaning falls away. Which is not in any way to discount the possibility of replacing words with interpretive dance or fingerpainting as a means of communication. But I digress.
Back to the courtesy call
Something clicks in my brain. It was not the thing in my brain that had once been a telemarketer before landing in communications. It was not the thing in my brain that had once been a supervisor of a 35-person call centre for a telemarketing company, or the thing in my brain that had trained telemarketers or the thing in my brain that had opened a branch office of a telemarketing company in another city. And it is definitely not the entire thing in my brain that is keen on the goodness of mindfulness, kindfulness, compassion and patience.
The thing that clicks in my brain also furrows my brows.
I croak out a question.”Why?”
“It’s a courtesy call,” he repeats.
He has a job to do. Get bank customers to say yes to the product the bank is selling.
I swallow, hoping my voice will hold up and ask, “Why do I need a courtesy call?”
My question is not included in the script of responses on the telemarketer’s sheet, which means he has to think but he’s not fast enough which means he misses a beat. Silence. Not something you want in a telemarketing call.
I have about 4 seconds before my voice is lost for the day. “Thank you. I’m satisfied with what I have with the bank. I don’t need a courtesy call. Take good care.”
It’s not personal. It’s a thing.
(No professional communicators were harmed in the creation of this post)