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Lots of folks don’t like talking to telemarketers, but I do.  In fact, telemarketers have provided me with many hours of amusement.  I know, they are just doing their job, but if they can do their job and provide me with entertainment, that counts as a win for everybody, right?

The funniest story I have ever heard involving a telemarketer is one to which I have a tangential connection.  On January 21, 1999 neither my wife nor I had a cell phone.  Our good friends and neighbors (who lived several doors down in the next apartment building) didn’t have cell phones.  This is important because it means we relied solely on landlines.  If you google that date, you will find that it was the date of the largest tornado outbreak in the history of the state of Arkansas (which is saying quite a bit).

Long story short, our apartment was trashed by a tornado (windows smashed out, doors smashed in, furniture from hundreds of yards away in our apartment, ceiling and roof GONE, you get the picture).  I was in grad school and was at the University 15-20 miles away, and didn’t realize this had happened for a while.

Our friends/neighbors came and found my wife huddled in the wreckage and took her with them back to their apartment (which was slightly less damaged) where they all huddled while storms continued to rage around them and everybody tried to figure out what to do.

Suddenly, the phone rang.  Was it me, calling to check on them?  Was it someone else, with information about the storms?  No, it was a telemarketer.  Our friend answered the phone and the telemarketer started their script.  Our friend said “I’m sorry, we can’t talk right now, we’re in the middle of a tornado!”  As she hung up, she heard the telemarketer’s incredulous response.  “Really?”

Now, the telemarketer had done them a favor.  Power was out, but this call helped them realize that the phone was working.  This allowed them to call me and let me know that “A tornado just went through our living room!” (which I thought must be hyperbole)

That’s my favorite telemarketer story.  Ever since then, I have loved the idea of throwing them a curve ball when they call.  Occasionally, I do voices (I can do Kermit the Frog, Jimmy Stewart, Bill Clinton, and many others).  For a while, I simply handed the phone off to my six year old and listened to the hilarity.  My wife was concerned that the telemarketers might call child protective services in a spiteful/vengeful moment, so I stopped doing that.  Other times, I just say “Hello?!” loudly and in a whiny voice in response to whatever they say.

Last week, I made a telemarketer mad.  When I answered the phone, I said “Hello” in a deep, gravelly voice (somewhere between Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones).  As soon as the telemarketer started talking, I simply repeated everything she said to me in that same deep voice.  After a few iterations of this, the telemarketer was irate.  “I’m not joking, sir.  I want to speak to Tanya Biddle!”  When I repeated this back, my wife doubled over laughing and the telemarketer finally hung up.

What kind of fun do you have with telemarketers?