Monday, January 4, 2010

One Ringy-Dingy

At first it was just an "Oh, sorry, wrong number." Sometimes it was just a hang-up. But there were enough of them to notice.

A few times we'd crossly get asked, "Who is this?" when we'd cheerfully said, "Hello!"

That's annoying. Don't they know who they called? So, naturally, we'd asked right back, "Who are YOU? You called me!"

Hang up.

Then it started to become a little more clear. "Hi, is this Pottery Barn?"
"No, sorry, you've got the wrong number."
"Wait, not Pottery Barn, but the catalog delivery service number? I'm asking about my order."
"No, sorry, you've got the wrong number."

But the calls kept coming.

Not hourly, not even daily, but it happened frequently enough that we realized we must just be one digit off from Pottery Barn's Delivery service inquiry number. We would just politely and concisely say, "No, sorry, try again", and they'd re-dial and get it right.

But a few times they didn't, so we were prepared when the second call came.

One weekday afternoon, I answered the phone.
"Hello, is this Pottery Barn delivery?"
"How can I help you?"
"I want to know where my couch is!"
"Well, I'm quite sure I don't know--did you look in your living room?"
"No, the couch I ordered, it's supposed to be delivered today, and I want to know where it is"
"What couch did you order?"
"The green one on page 34."
"Oh! YOU'RE the one who ordered that! HAHAHAHA! ah, sorry, ahem. It hasn't been delivered yet?"
"No, it hasn't and I've been waiting all morning."
"That's a shame."
"I want to know when it's going to be delivered!!

She's getting louder, and a little more insistent with me. tsk."Honestly, I don't know if it is going to be delivered today."

"WHAT?!! I was told that is was going to be and I took the morning off from work!! I'm STILL waiting."
"HM....I really don't know what you want ME to do about it."
"Like, I said, I really don't know, and I have no idea when and IF it will be delivered."
"I want to talk to your supervisor"
"I don't have a supervisor, I'm a housewife."
"I believe you've dialed the wrong number."
"Oh, you're a riot, a real riot."


That was really fun. After all, she called me! And I didn't lie.

It has long been a fun rule in our family to not-lie. It isn't really easy to do, actually. When someone asks you a question, you're conditioned to answer it, and you usually answer it honestly. But sometimes, you don't want to give the real answer, or you need to distract away from the real answer but give information that will satisfy as an answer. We call that a not-lie. For example. One of the girls was asked if the generously sized stones in her earrings were real diamonds. Not wanting to admit that they weren't genuine, she quickly replied, "Oh, these are my mother's; I could never afford diamond this big!". Both statements are true. The earrings were mine. I'd given them to her after I'd worn them just once. They were large stones, so she never could afford real diamonds of that size. So the lady thinks she got an answer. But she didn't really. She just heard two true statements, in response to her question. She made her own assumptions after that.

Asking too late for a weekend off at his job, Andrew's boss asked why he needed the time off. Andrew replied that 'my biological father is going to be in town and really wanted to see me'. The boss inhaled sympathetically, and lowered her voice suggesting she would see about changing the schedule. Andrew didn't lie. Stephen was going to be in town, and he always wants to see Andrew! A not-lie can be very effective.

And the calls kept coming. We could take the call, as long as we continued to not-lie.

"Hi, I ordered a dining room table and eight chairs for delivery"
"When would you like it delivered?"
"Next Wednesday."
"Oh, I'm afraid that's impossible; there's no room in our vehicles for deliveries of furniture that large."

If Stephen was home, we could 'transfer the caller' to someone 'who could try to help you'. Most people were patient, but a few really were downright nasty, and if they weren't nice, we'd start taking their information:

"I'm sorry, what was your name again?" Shuffling papers to elicit searching attempt noises.
"What was the delivery address? Uh-huh, Uh-huh..."
"From what catalog did you place your order?"
"Did you use a Visa or Mastercard? What number then? Uh-huh----Uh-huh; expiration date? right....."
Just a moment please.
a transfer to a pleasant voice "good afternoon, how can I help you?"

If they got especially nasty, we'd 'transfer' to Stephen, and he'd put on his best Jersey Guido persona, and hand it right back.

"Look, Pal, I'm busy, you say you live in Connecticut? Well I'm right outta Newark, and I don't ever drive to Connecticut unless I gotta; you know whadeye mean?" "I mean, it might be awhile. In da meantime, I got your information."

Ultimately, people would either catch on or hang up out of frustration. One fellow caught on, and even played along for a few minutes, asking if I could deliver my ironing board, he needed a new one of those, too.


  1. this is one of the best things i've learned from my parents.
    i still use this tactic at my current job
    someone asks if i can escalate an issue to a higher level, or write an email to corporate, and i reply simply "Yes, I could do that for you"
    well yes, i certainly COULD, but i certainly won't

  2. i like this one. and i LOVE the not-lie!

    when jen mcharg asked if i made my robert burns dress myself and i said that the hem was the hardest part. i HAD sewn a tartan hem around the bottom which WAS difficult, but definitely did not make the whole gown.

    it's quite useful. i probably use i everyday