Friday, December 15, 2006

We Interrupt This Message

Ring-ring! Ring-ring!

The telephone is ringing; this is an exciting incident in my day. I hardly ever get phone calls during working hours, and when I do they are often of a thrilling nature, like somebody offering me a job. Whoever said that bad news travels faster than good news clearly wasn't a freelance writer, in whose world crushing rejection comes in the post from people too embarrassed at the poverty of your idea to want to speak to you, but acceptance and offers of employment like to be made immediately and vocally with lots of ego-boosting encouragement. Though I am now getting crushing rejections by email as well, so perhaps whoever came up with that maxim was not only right, but remarkably prescient.

ME: Hello.

WOMAN ON PHONE: Er, hello. I'm phoning about BT Broadband.

Oh for goodness' sake! I am ex-directory and have removed myself from every possible telephone and mailing list, yet still these people get through. Do they not realise that I am a writer, and I might have been about to create something brilliant? Coleridge was once interrupted by “a person from Porlock” and never managed to recall the dream that inspired his poem afterwards. Though whether this person was flogging high-speed internet access is not recorded.

ME: Yeah, I'm not interested.

WOMAN: Oh, it's just that it doesn't work.

Blimey! This is the worst salesperson ever. BT can hardly blame the break-up of the UK telecom monopoly for their woes if this is the calibre of staff that they employ. Unless it is some amazing reverse-psychology technique that starts off by making you agree with how poor their services are, then ends up with you buying broadband, gas, electricity and a timeshare in the Algarve from them.

ME: I'm actually very happy with Tiscali.

WOMAN: Oh. Is there anything you can do?

It slowly dawns on me. This woman is not a salesperson, and is just a BT broadband customer who has accidentally called me thinking that I am the fault reporting department. All that I've done is to tell her that I'm not interested, that my broadband works fine, and that a competitor is much better.

ME: Like I said, Tiscali are quite good.

I put the phone down and go back to work.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...

Nope, it's gone.