MAUREEN BURNS: Creative answers for the unwanted call

By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 3:30 pm on Monday, November 21, 2011

Ringy ding ding, chimes, music, or whatever your phone does to ring. My husband’s is the most obnoxious. Jivey music comes on with a deep voice that says, “Hello Moto”. Spare me! Our daughter put it on his phone when he first got it, as a joke. He would have changed it, if he only knew how.
Anyway, what do you do when you get all those wonderful courtesy, political, sales and money begging calls??? I asked around and got some great ideas.
There are a few (very few) odd folks who are polite. They answer kindly, listen and give respect to the caller. Then there are the rest of us.
Some just hang up. I’m sure you’ll think less of me, but that’s my style. Before you judge me, Kelly Thompson does it too and she’s nice!
My niece, Sarah, lets her two year old son answer. He babbles nonsense and asks them if they are his grandma. Very cute.
Gerry Van Syckle yells, “Hello”, and keeps yelling it as if he’s deaf. His wife, Patty, tells them, “They don’t live here.” Someone else says, “We’re in crisis here,” or “We’re eating dinner.”
Terry Hankis asks for their phone number so he can call them back.
Laurel Christensen adds to the dinner idea. She tells them she is in the middle of dinner and asks them what time their family dinner is so she can call them and interrupt theirs. Laurel always has fun ideas. She’s the one who named our book club — The Happy Bookers.
When there is a four-second delay before the caller starts, she waits four seconds each time before she replies to them.
She also got a call from a company wanting to sell her windows. She let them go on with their entire sales pitch and then said she was interested. She asked about their long range payment plan, told them she was renting, but was sure her landlord would approve. She added that she could only afford five dollars a month. They hung up on her and didn’t call back. Bingo.
Diana Jones replies, “I have to step away from the phone for a second.” She puts it down, puts it on speaker and never returns until she hears the dial tone. Susan Noonan, in Spain, tells them, “I have someone on the other line trying to sell me something, can you hold?”
One couple acts like they are having a big fight and keep yelling at each other about stupid things. They ask the caller to help settle it. Aren’t people creative?
Ryan Schlehuber gave me some great ones that he’s heard. “Sorry, I can’t talk right now. My neighbor’s house is on fire.”
“Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you very . . . hello? Must be a bad connection.” Hang up. If they call back, repeat above.
“Please leave a message after the tone.” Then hang up.
Ryan had a friend who got a call while doing a word puzzle. As soon as they started their spiel, he broke in with questions about how to spell a word or what this word meant, etc. Clever!
Alvina Van Doorn, in Coopersville, asks political callers things like: “Do you agree with that policy; are you going to vote for that candidate”. They get off the line quickly.
Beth Roberts, also in Coopersville, informs them that if they call her one more time before the election, she will be sure to vote for the other candidate.
Sue Muns tells them sad things that happened in her life.
Barb Steffee says stuff like, “Now is not a good time.”  “I just can’t focus.” If they ask for the lady of the house, she tells them she’s out.
Elmer Soule said he tells them, “I’m not here.” Evelyn Mosier’s brother tells them, “He died last week.”
Hilda Sorvari has a brother who says on his answering machine, “Hi, I’m making changes in my life. If I don’t talk with you or call you back, you’re one of my changes.”
Candy Kerschen knows someone who begins chatting with them. “Where are you calling from? Do you do much fishing there? I got a nice trout today. What’s your weather like? It’s beginning to rain here.” Silence from the caller as they’ve hung up.
Stephen Hole is a really nice guy. He gives them all respect and kindness and thanks them and says he’s not interested. When they continue, he calmly apologizes for their hearing problem and hangs up.
Marta Williams, in Spain, tries to sell them something. “Would you like a whole year’s worth of ….”
Another answers, “I’m the housekeeper. No speak-a-da English.” They are saying this all in English, by the way.
Andy Robel, in Grand Rapids, heard this one. They pretend the caller has phoned in the middle of a homicide investigation. They pretend to be the detective and start asking questions. “What’s your full name? Your location? How did you know the deceased? What type of dealings have you had with them in the past? When you last saw them ….” I love this one.
But the best is one my husband heard. The guy listens to the caller go on and on and is silent for quite awhile and then in a slow creepy voice says, “What are you wearing?” Yewwww. Hang up.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is

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