Nuisance Caller

Aug 17, 2015
Nuisance Caller Considering how most people seem to run their entire lives on their mobile phones, it never ceases to amaze me (no, that’s a lie – it doesn’t remotely surprise me) how utterly incapable they are of using a normal landline telephone.   

Oh sorry, I forgot. (Huffs impatiently). For the benefit of anyone under the age of 50 who might happen to be reading this, a ‘telephone’ is a static communication device with wires. It sits on a hard surface and rings when it needs answering. Yes…rings. It doesn’t beep, vibrate or play the latest downloaded tune; it rings. You don’t need to keep upgrading it every six months to keep up with the latest fashion and you have to pick it up to answer it - you can’t swipe it. Well, not unless you’re angry with it, in which case the accepted form is to slam it down. In fact the only thing it has in common with a modern smart(ass)phone is that you still get nuisance calls.   

Despite registering with the Telephone Preference Service we still get calls that start with an aircraft hangarful of voices echoing in the background. By that point I’ve already zoned out mentally, but then you have to endure the sound of some girl who sounds about twelve years-old and speaks with a quasi-Jamaican patois, saying “Can I speak to the person who deals with your advertising/electricity bills/water cooler supplies/sanitary dispensers please?”   

However, painful experience has taught me a little trick to get your own back. It was inadvertently demonstrated to me by a woman who works at one of our local crematoria. She has this habit of putting the phone down very quickly as soon as she’s finished a conversation. Quite apart from the fact it sounds rude (and I know she doesn’t mean it like that, but it does), it also sounds like someone’s fired a shotgun right by your ear.   

So, if you get a nuisance caller, don’t just hang up by putting the receiver down, because the one second delay will give them some warning. Instead just sharply jab your finger on the button in the cradle. It will sound like a grenade going off in their ear. That might sound cruel and abusive, but you’re actually doing them a favour. You’re rescuing them from a life working in a call centre, because you will have caused them to suffer permanent hearing damage, from which they can sue their employer, resign with the proceeds of their compensation award and then claim disability benefits, which will probably pay better than working in a call centre does.  

I learnt long ago that funeral directors in particular need to be acutely aware of how they answer the phone. A lot of people are nervous enough about just making phone calls to people they don’t know, let alone when it’s because someone’s just died. So you need to answer quite slowly. Most people’s minds go blank the moment the person they’re calling picks up, so you’re just giving them an extra few seconds to adjust to the sound of your voice and think about what it is they want to say. Having said that, you don’t then want to launch into some great long spiel either. The dental practice I go to is by far the worst offender:

“Good morning. Cheesy Smiles Dental Practice And Replacement Implant Centre. Kylie-Mae speaking. How may I help you?” “Zzzz... Oh, hello. Well, for a start you can remind me what the bloody hell it was I was phoning for, because in the time it’s taken you to recite your script I’ve forgotten.”   

The other problem is that some people just dial a number without checking they’ve got it right and then automatically expect to reach the person or organisation they think they’ve phoned. As a result they carry on oblivious when the phone is actually answered. “Good morning, Coroner’s Court & City Mortuary.” “Yes, hello. I’m phoning on behalf of my husband. Him came in last week for his Well Man screening appointment and he was told he’d get his cholesterol test results by Friday and we still ain’t heard nothing yet. Does that mean it’s summat serious?”

James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos.   

He is the author of “A Life In Death – Memoirs Of A Cotswold Funeral Director”


James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos.

He is the author of “A Life In Death – Memoirs Of A Cotswold Funeral Director”

James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos.

He is the author of “A Life In Death – Memoirs Of A Cotswold Funeral Director”

James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos.

He is the author of “A Life In Death – Memoirs Of A Cotswold Funeral Director”

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