No, this isn't going to be the definitive autobiography. It's actually about telephones. I think we're forgetting how to use them.

What's up with people not identifying themselves when they call a stranger on the phone these days. I'm not talking about individuals. I get calls from companies we do business with, and I inevitably have to not only ask who they are but why they're calling.

Used to be when you called someone you didn't know the opening went something like this:

"Hello, this is Cthulhu Nyarlathotop from The Twisted Mind. May I speak to Wes Craven, please?"

No more. What you now are most likely to hear is:

"May I speak to Wes Craven?"

"Who's calling, please?"

"Cthulhu Nyarlathotep."

"And may I ask what it's in reference to?"

That last question is frequently followed by a pause, as if the caller is debating whether revealing the subject of their call will violate national security. Since it usually doesn't, they will then reluctantly let you know what they're calling about.

I love email. I love instant messaging. In fact, I can't remember now how I managed to communicate without them. On the other hand, when I call someone on a business matter, I let them know who I am and why I'm bugging them right up front. I figure if they want to hang up on me they should be able to do it quickly and not waste any more of my time or theirs.

However, it seems to me we've gotten so used to having our name (or at least our ID) automatically displayed for us we've forgotten phones, even the ones with caller ID, don't do likewise.

So, yes, I do wanna know who you are when you ring me up--and sooner rather than later. On the other hand, maybe I'm just getting to be a curmudgeon.


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Comment by Arlene Sachitano on May 22, 2007 at 5:52am
When I actually answer a telemarketing call, I usually ask them if they would like to buy my book. Lots of times their Aunt Mary is a mystery fan and they take down my book info.
Comment by Elizabeth Burton on April 25, 2007 at 5:40am
Joyce, you sly devil, that is brilliant. LOL

And Sandra, I suspect the telemarketing industry may have a hand in the situation, since non-identification is SOP. Which is stupid, really, but then so are those robot dialers that call your number and when they get switched to your voice mail leave a message that says if you didn't hang up it's proof you're the person they called.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan on April 24, 2007 at 11:09am
I'm with you. Call display doesn't solve all problems. I was running upstairs one day, and the phone was ringing. I was expecting a call and figured this was it, and if the phone rang one more time the machine would pick up, so I grabbed it and answered without looking.

The person on the phone didn't identify themselves. They asked if I was Mrs. XXXX (using my married name). I asked who was calling. They repeated their question. I repeated mine.

See, they weren't saying my name properly and they called me 'Mrs.' and I didn't know their voice - I knew I didn't know the person.

They finally snapped at me, "Are you going to answer my questions?" and I told them no, I didn't know who they were and what they wanted and I wasn't obligated to answer anything.

So they finally told me who they were, but were very rude about it. Telemarketer from Primus. I then called Primus and filed a complaint.

We've been getting repeated calls from a number, the same number, and I finally answered just to get rid of them. For my husband, his bank, wanting to up his credit card limit by the sounds of it. But they keep calling and calling and calling - it's annoying as hell. And he wasn't home, and since I'm not an authority on that card I can't deal with it. So now, when I see the number I click answer and then end. That's what I do for all known telemarketers as well - I hate listening to the phone ring.

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