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Published March 10, 2020


I can’t tell you why I’m calling

By John Toth / The Bulletin

It was a 979 area code, but an unfamiliar number. I answered it anyway.

It became obvious that the number was fake. What gave it away was the short pause before someone on the other end chimed in. But it didn’t become obvious quickly enough.


“Who is this?” I didn’t recognize the voice.

My name is so and so. They alway say a name, but I never remember it. “I’m calling about a personal matter.”

Wonder what that could be? It sounds important and downright mysterious.

“O.K., let’s hear it.”

“Before I do, I just want to let you know that this call may be monitored for quality purposes.”

Now I regretted answering the call. I’m not going to buy anything over the phone, and I sure am not going to give out any information. But I also don’t want to be rude. I know that it’s a hard job cold-calling people and badgering them about whatever they badger about.

I would never do it. But some people are good at it, and a few probably even like it. Those are the ones who don’t mind verbal abuse. But not from me. I am always as polite as I can be because we’re in the selling business also.

One caller who wanted to sell me electricity was very good. So good that I tried to hire her to sell ads for me. I felt bad telling her that I would not switch electric companies because of a phone call, and definitely not right there on the spot.

But I also liked her style and pushy personality – not too pushy, but pushy enough. She had my number already because she called it. I told her to call me back if she’s interested, but she never did.

Back to the caller who got my first name right. At least I now knew that I was being recorded.

“Before we can go any further, could you confirm the last four digits of your Social Security Number?”


“Why would I do that, since I don’t know what this is all about.”

“Could you then confirm your address?”


“We cannot discuss this personal matter unless you do one or the other.”

I don’t really care about that. I do care about not giving out personal information to a voice on the phone. I still didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I was not going to do anything of the sorts.

“I want to talk to you about a personal matter, but I need you to confirm this information before I can continue,” he said.

I guess whatever that matter is will remain secret. “I’d be glad to talk to you about it, if you just tell me what it is,” I replied.

“I can’t do that, sir. Have a nice day,” he said in a pouty voice and disconnected the line. Temper, temper.

Too bad, because I was going to ask him if he wanted to sell advertising.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)