SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 8, 2012

Column: Let's hang up on these calls

Mary Alice Cookson
The Salem News

---- — How stupid do our presidential candidates think I am?

Do they think I find their computer-generated calls endearing?

Do they think I’m out here saying, “Well, I was leaning toward voting for President Obama because I like the admiring way he looks at Michelle when she’s rocking a sleeveless dress with her buff arms, but then I got a call from Gov. Mitt Romney and his recorded message meant so much to me that it made my little independent heart go pitter-pat. For a split second, I actually thought it was really him on the line. I couldn’t believe this important man with his great hair would take the time to have his computer call me personally. But now I’m torn because Mr. Obama’s campaigners called to remind me of his support for American families — regular families like mine (only I wondered about their thoughtfulness in calling just as we were sitting down to dinner). After dinner, someone called on behalf of Mr. Romney, wanting me to pledge my belief in America by handing over my hard-earned money (but I don’t have any on account of the Obama’s administration not delivering on its promise of creating high-paying jobs, specifically one for me). Sorry folks, I’m on a roller-coaster ride out here. Maybe some more campaign calls will help me make up my mind.”

Do the candidates think I’m excitedly monitoring my caller ID thinking, “Washington, D.C. — the president’s calling!” or “Private caller — I bet it’s the governor!”

Do they seriously expect me to answer? And if I do answer (accidentally), do they expect me to get past, “Hello, this is ...” before clicking them off?

Who gives politicians the bad advice that to get our votes they need to badger and annoy us? I suppose in some households people do waste precious life minutes listening to unsolicited messages (or the practice wouldn’t continue), but in ours, every annoying phone call counts against the caller.

Do the out-to-lunch campaign experts not realize that unwanted calls to someone’s home are intrusive, and unwanted computer-generated calls are the lowest of the low, even by telemarketing standards? At least with telemarketers, you can be placed on a Do Not Call list, but with these computerized campaign calls, your only choice is to hang up or suffer. Screaming “leave me the heck alone!” doesn’t work. I know from experience.

It’s too bad that before the campaign started, the American people couldn’t sit down with the candidates and say, “Sorry guys, despite what your experts tell you, we hate your computer-generated phone calls almost as much as we hate your negative campaign ads. So save those billions and do something constructive with the money, like paying down the national debt. Then maybe we’ll talk about giving you our votes.”

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Mary Alice Cookson is a Beverly-based columnist. She welcomes comments at mcookson29@gmail.com.