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Jan 13, 2017

In your country, do you have many telemarketers? You know, the people you don't know who call you on the phone and try to convince you to buy something. Well, in this country they are like a plague (no offense intended if you are one!). Most people I know will tell me of difficult experiences that they've had with telemarketers who are pushy, or over enthusiastic to the point of being bizarre. It must be a difficult job, I think, to approach a stranger by phone, often while he's at home, and to try and sell him something. I'm not a natural salesperson, and being pushy is not me at all. I don't think I would be very good at it. I have, however, had a lot of experience of awkward telephone conversations with telemarketers. As an English person, I try to be polite. That's not to say(1) that all English are polite. But in general, our society does train us to offer politeness on a daily basis to strangers and to people we know. I think it comes from a general desire to avoid conflict and to get along. So, when I first found myself talking to telemarketers, I would always give them plenty of time to talk, even if they were talking so fast that I couldn't understand them. I would ask questions, make friendly comments, and then really apologize if I didn't want to buy the product they were offering. In fact, my first experience led me to(2) buy two dozen light bulbs for some reason or other. I had recently got married and moved to this country, and certainly wasn't used to telemarketers. When my husband found out, he shook his head and asked me why we needed so many light bulbs, and couldn't we just buy them in the shop when we needed them? The word 'naive' comes to mind. Yes, I was young and very naive. Well, not anymore. I'm older and wiser. So, yesterday as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered anyway. Immediately, a high-pitched, giggly voice of a lady presented itself, and with breathy(3) enthusiasm told me that I had won a vacation somewhere. She spoke very fast, so fast that I wasn't sure if her voice was a recording or not. She raced through a list of details and values of the vacation while I stood there, looking at myself in the mirror, with only half of my makeup on my face, wondering why I was wasting my time. Would I listen to her and then politely respond with, "Oh really?" or "That's a generous offer!" or even, "I'm so sorry, but at the moment I don't think that spending X amount of dollars is in my budget." No, politeness didn't even occur to me, instead, I felt a definite instinct for survival rise inside me. I touched the red, round button on my phone, and welcomed the following silence. Then I went to 'recent calls' on my phone and blocked her number. That was it, done; it was over. My thought had been translated into action which had brought relief and success. It was thrilling, like I had just robbed a bank and driven away in a  Lamborghini. I continued putting on my makeup, and found that I looked prettier than usual. Well, they say that success makes a person glow. I look forward to another opportunity of hitting that adorable, little, red button.

1. 'That's not to say..' is used to balance a previous comment.

a. When I go to London, I visit my friend Sarah. That's not to say that I go there frequently.

b. The French are known for their cuisine. That's not to say that all French people love cooking.

2. 'Led me to' begins with the past participle of the verb 'to lead', and the general sense is that something has influenced you or guided you to a course of action or thought.

a. The salesperson led me to believe that my vacuum cleaner was the worst on the planet, that I should have never bought it, and that I should buy a new one from him immediately. 

b. The professor's lecture led the student to feel confident and hopeful about the next day's exam.

3. 'Breathy' is an adjective used to give a sense of the sound and 'windiness' of the lady's voice. Many nouns can be made into this kind of adjective by simply adding a 'y', like 'scratchy'.

a. She was nervous when she gave her speech; she stammered and sounded breathy like she had been running.

b. He had had a cough for a week, and his voice sounded scratchy.