Hello, can I speak to J… please?

“Excuse me?”


“I’m sorry, I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong number.”

Oh no, I’ve got the RIGHT number, I’ve just got the wrong name. Is this, um… John?

“I’m sorry, that’s my cue to hang up.”

Boy, I hope that wasn’t someone trying to give me money. Chances are, it was those damn state troopers again.

Three things have changed our reaction to a ringing phone. Before, the ring meant someone was trying to sell us something. It caused a chorus of groans. Now it usually means family or friends are reaching out. We still groan every now and again, but it’s not quite as loud – or heartfelt.

  • An unlisted number
  • The do not call list
  • Going all in on our cell phones

Now when an unfamiliar voice opens a call with, “can I speak with Mr Kauffman?” I can get rude with a high degree of confidence. It can be a little embarrassing when a new nurse from the kids doctor’s office is calling, but I can live with a little shame every now and again.

I’m painting a picture of an ass here, but I’ve actually been pretty patient. I’m the kind of guy that can put five minutes into trying to let a tele-marketer down gently. As if they care how sorry I am. My transformation into a phone ogre has been recent, and it’s the trooper’s fault.

Ditching the land line has eliminated the loophole for most sales calls. Even Chase has stopped trying to sell us credit protection over the phone. I just tell them they’re calling me on my cell phone, I’m paying for the call, and I’d really like them to stop calling. You know what? They actually stop calling! Not those troopers though. They have no shame. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’ve put me on their “bug the living shit out of ’em” list.

So now I’m doing something I thought I’d never do. I’m hanging up on people. In my defense, I might not have hung up on the trooper if he hadn’t been so damn smug.

Give the gift of words.