The Speed of Time
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How Crabby Old Lady Got That Way

Several years ago, Crabby Old Lady signed up for the New York State “Do Not Call Registry.” That’s the list that allows anyone, by registering, to remove themselves from receiving telemarketing calls. The local versions were so successful that the Federal Trade Commission launched a national registry a few years ago and Crabby signed up for that too.

It means that, on pain of severe monetary penalty, telemarketers may not call Crabby. The exceptions – you knew there are exceptions – are political organizations, charities, telephone surveys and companies with whom there is an existing business relationship. Keep that in mind as this story unfolds.

It is currently that time of year when the annual donations to some of Crabby’s public interests are due. Because Crabby’s employer last month - in the most recent fit of what has become a series of regularly-scheduled “business realignments” - fired Crabby and some of her colleagues, she had laid aside the appeals for her charitable renewals while she assesses her financial position.

Apparently she set them aside for too long.

Crabby has now learned that there is a short window of opportunity for such donations to be made following which solicitors take full advantage of the exceptions to the Do Not Call Registry. Worse, during the years in which she has enjoyed a respite from the daily onslaught of calls to purchase dubious merchandise of questionable utility, the charity hucksters have acquired the fast-talking skills of their commercial brethren.

Representatives from two of Crabby Old Lady’s charitable donees recently made use of a nasty little tactic that in the past has contributed to the granting of the sobriquet by which Crabby is here known.

Having been interrupted, Crabby was only half listening once the caller identified himself as a stranger who wants money, and she made the mistake of agreeing when asked if the renewal mailing had been received. This acknowledgement turned the staid charitable representative into the scurvy, snake oil salesman he undoubtedly was before the Do Not Call Registry went into effect: “Then I’ll put you down for $50 more than last year.” ("Heh, heh, heh. Aren't I clever" he thought as he twirled his mustache.)

Crabby, whose attention was now fully engaged but hadn’t a clue how much she had given that organization last year, snapped back with the venom the man deserved: “You’ll get what I give you if and when I feel like it.”

A week or so ago, a sales person from the multimegacorp which supplies Crabby’s home and mobile telephone services phoned with the offer of a new and improved calling plan. Crabby politely declined but like all good sleazebag marketers, this was a man who believes “no” is an opportunity. He insisted. Crabby affirmed her refusal. He pushed. Crabby pulled. He pressured. Crabby lost it. “The last time one of you [expletive deleted] sold me a new calling plan, it cost me an additional ten dollars a month. So go [cheney] yourself and leave me alone.”

Crabby sometimes wonders, when driven to such – uh, colorful – language, what the reaction of these solicitor punks would be if they could see the grandmotherly sort who is voicing it.

But the more interesting question is what the multimegacorps believe they gain with such offensive tactics. Can it possibly be that they make more sales this way? Do they not know that Crabby, probably along with millions of other consumers, may not cancel their contracts now, but when the opportunity arises, will have no compunction about going over to a competitor? Or perhaps it doesn’t matter since all the competitors practice the same sales tactics, so their customers will switch too when it is convenient to do so. If that is true, Crabby suspects the trade comes out about even, so it still makes no sense.

Crabby also wonders if these are among the tactics that fool old folks - the ones who may have lost a button or two - into buying a thousand dollars worth of magazines or a million dollars worth of life insurance that will never pay off.

As to the charities, their overbearing representatives have not, so far, prevented Crabby from sending her annual donations. But yesterday one of the tactics they have borrowed from the commercial solicitation world resurfaced in Crabby’s life - another one destined to drive Crabby to a potty-mouthed rejoinder before long.

CALLER: May I speak to Crabby Old Lady please?

CRABBY: Who is calling?

CALLER: Irritating Marketing Person.

CRABBY: And what organization are you with?

CALLER: My name is Irritating Marketing Person.

CRABBY: Yes, you’ve said that. What organization are you with.

CALLER: Let me tell you about our fight against…

CRABBY: Mr. Person, I’ve asked you what organization you are with.

CALLER: (mumbling) The ABCD. (more clearly) Mrs. Lady, we appreciate your recent donation. I’m calling because there is an urgent need right now…

CRABBY: Goodbye.

What is the point, Crabby wants to know, in hiding the name of the organization? In this particular case, it was Crabby’s first donation. There is unlikely now to be a second as once again, the world has forced her into the behavior that led to Crabby’s characterization of herself.

NOTE: Exceptions notwithstanding, The Do Not Call Registry is outstandingly successful in reducing the number of telemarketing calls. If you have not registered, you can do so online at


Telemarketers of any stripe - and I count the charities among them - are annoying. I must say, though, the last one defies comprehension. Why would they not say straight off what company they are with? In the first place, I believe they are legally required to tell you that, certainly the first time you ask. In the second place, you had donated to them in the past (even if only once) - would they not expect that you would be MORE receptive if you knew it was an organization you had previously chosen to support?? (I grant you, in this case that is not so - but for many people it might be.)

Oh, I laughed at the "go [cheney] yourself and leave me alone"!

I agree - telemarketers are the scourge of the modern world - and they will call you at all hours of the day and night, given a chance. Back home I was on the equivalent of the Do Not Call registry and only had to deal with the charitable organisation calls, which I could just about handle. But here in London every 2-bit money-grubbing organisation has my number and BOY, do they use it!! Buy some life insurance. Buy some double-glazing for your windows. Buy a new conservatory. Which part of NO don't you understand??

The cherry on top came last Saturday. Now, on a Saturday, I expect to be left alone in my own home, but nooo. Phone rings, I answer & hear "Hi Ms Innocent Victim, this is Mr Moron from the Moronic Company. How are you today?" Through gritted teeth and only because my mother raised me to be polite, I reply "Fine," and suppress the urge to yell "GO AWAY". He then continues "Ms Innocent Victim, I take it you are the home owner?" (just because I happen to be listed in the phone directory??). So I reply "No, we're renting." Then there is a 2 second pause before this freak... bangs down the phone in my ear!!! No "sorry to have bothered you" or even "OK, bye then" - he just hangs up. And the worst is that now you can't even hurl abuse at him! The things which flew out of my mouth (at some volume...) do not bear repeating here, but a reasonable description would be septic tank mouth (the big brother of potty mouth!!) The neighbours must have wondered if there was domestic violence in progress next door...

Great post, Ronni!

I still find the best way to handle all annoying calls is to let my answering machine talk to 'em.

If I do by accident answer a telemarketing call I simply say "no thanks" and hang up without waiting for the other person to respond. Saying you are busy or having dinner, leaves an opening for them to call you once again.

I was a telemarketer for a dental supply firm many years ago and the first rule they taught us was if you can engage the customer in conversation you can sell them. So hanging up quickly is the best idea.

By the way, did you know that many companies now use firms in India to call into the USA?

Hey Ronn.. erm Crabby Lady! I got just a call like that today about some savings scheme. I was polite coz I don't get many marketing calls. The telemarketing person was polite too. I think it's not that big and bothersome overhere. You got fired?! Bleh!!
CY on the flog. :-)

Death to the telemarketing industry!

I was sorry to hear about your job. I'm looking forward to better times when you call yourself the sweet old lady.

Thank you for the job condolences, Richard. I suspect, however - employment or not - Crabby Old Lady's demeanor is here to stay.

Hee, hee, hee -- I loved the "go cheney yourself" quip as well . . .

When I was a relationship counselor on Long Island, I would often start qualifying telemarketers for my services, asking them how their relationship was, did they experience recently more difficulties communicating, how was their love life, are they satisfied with their partner, etc. After several questions, they would usually hang-up on me . . .

Before I signed up for the no-call list here in Oregon and then nationally, I was routinely rude to those cold-callers looking for money. I would hang up before they finished their first sentence, no matter what their cause, no matter how important.

Later, I would think that they were probably living in some really bad apartment trying to hold a life together, doing whatever they could to make a buck, like bill collectors. It can't be a pleasant job.

Still, I would argue with myself, no excuse for intruding on my life and that of countless others.

After reading Crabby's post, which made me laugh and sympathize, I thought, more than anything else, how much she sounded like my mother, who I think might have been very much like her.

It's a startling likeness, unnerving, in a way, since I think if Crabby knew my mother 40 years ago they might have disagreed on many points.

One of the things about getting older is that, when we are very young adults, we are startled to learn how smart our parents were just a few years earlier.

But as we grow even older and older, we lose touch with that epiphany, even as we become our parents.

I think that few of us at 50 or 60 can see ourselves clearly as the children of our parents. But if we had a sibling, then they might see it for us, and we in return for them.

Hi there. It's just a lazy Sunday morning for me here. I just happened upon timegoesby while catching up on the news online. Time was...the printed version would be scattered around the living room and sections being passed from family member to the next. Times change...

So, I'm a newbie to this stuff, but did want to relate my charitable phone solicitor story. I get very few if any calls now, since the Do Not Call Registry. The local police fund raising drive is the most frequent. Trying to be polite seemed appropriate. In equally polite manner the police fund raiser still continued. I still couldn't just hang up. Finally, the rubber meets the road. Asking for the donation, money amount. I take a deep breathe and say, sorry, don't have the funds. Being out of a job, no really, I only have $9.00. He says, quickly, "We'll take that." NOooooo... I say. And then we laugh. Nice fellow, I'll send the local force an old teddy bear for the kids' who need it.



I have a scheme that we were near victims of to tell you about.

Phone call received, and this person wanted my husband to know he'd won a lottery prize in Austrailia.

Well, we do not buy lotto tickets for Aussie anything. Therefore, MDH was suspect of the call.

Caller kept reassuring MDH that all was legit, and he should call a phone no. to claim his prize.

To make this long post shorter, the summary: phone number was for one in Virgin Islands. And one that could cost you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for a short 5 minute call. YES!!!! THOUSANDS OF DOLLAR!!!!!!!!!

Luckily, he did not recognize the "area code" and we did not call it.

We did find some warnings about such calls at "Hoax busters" or "urban myths" web site.

I thought it was quite a shameful thing to do, to prey on folks like that!

(And MDH had just gotten a fortune cookie that said he was going to have a change of luck, too!!)

I'm searching for Ronni Haist Bennett, who graduated from Tam Hi in 1958. If you are the same Ronni Bennett, please email me.
[email protected]

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