I’m madder than Alexander Graham Bell when he got his first busy signal because his blabbermouth assistant Watson was talking on a party line over how telemarketers keep interrupting my daily date with Vanna White every night!
Look, you all know that me and the missus are slaves to routine. I’ve been waking up, having my coffee and Danish, and squatting in the tub for exactly 45 minutes while I peel and eat a case of tangerines every day since before most of you whippersnappers were born — and I intend to do that — and everything else I’ve made my routine over my 76 years on earth — until the cows come home.
And that includes my evening regimen of dinner, watching the NBC Nightly News on the Zenith in the living room, and, of course, cheering on people I don’t know spin for fabulous cash and prizes on “Wheel of Fortune.”
So you can be sure that every time the phone rings as Pat Sajak introduces the first guest — an event I can set my Timex by — I get a little perturbed!
There’s a different one every night, and they are always trying to sell me insurance, change my electric company (yeah, that’s a riot!), or get home delivery of the Daily News. Meanwhile, all I want to do is watch someone rack up big money before getting greedy and spinning a “bankrupt.” When that happens, you can hear me laughing in Canarsie!
But I digress.
Look, I know that you know that I know you can’t stand telemarketers either, and you know that I know that you know that I have a way to get back at them.
So, without further adieu, here’s The Big Screecher’s top 10 ways to hit telemarketers where it hurts (figuratively speaking, of course):
• Use these three little words: “Hold on, please…” Then, just walk away and let the receiver dangle there from the cord that barely lets it touch the kitchen floor. That’s right, don’t hang up immediately — they’re use to that. You want to waste as much of their time as possible. It’s the simplest way to make those boiler room sales grind to a halt. Then, when you hear that “beep-beep-beep” tone from Ma Bell, you know it’s time to go back over there and hang up your handset.
And how about those phone calls you get where there’s no one on the other end for like 10 seconds? Ever wonder what those are? Well let me enlighten you! It’s a covert telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone! That’s right! Some egghead has figured out a way to determine the best time of day for a “real” salesperson to call back!
The way around this one is simple: once you notice no one is on the other end, immediately start hitting that funny “#” button on the phone 6 or 7 times as quickly as possible. This confuses the computer that dialed the call, and it kicks your number out of the system, saving you a lifetime of misery. Unfortunately, if you have a dial on your phone like I do in the bedroom, you’re stuck!
And here’s what to do with the enormous amount of junk mail the phone company and other utilities like to sneak into your bills. When you get these “ads” return them with your payment, and let the company that sent them throw them in its recycling!
And when you get those “pre-approved” credit card letters in the mail — you know the ones, with the postage-paid envelopes in them — don’t put them through the shredder!
Look, those pre-paid envelopes cost companies nothing if you throw them away, but they have to pay the postage if you mail it back — and the heavier it is, the more it costs them! So here’s what ol’ Carmine does when he wants to get back at a company for sending him a sales pitch in the mail: I load up as much junk mail as I can fit into those envelopes and drop them in the corner mailbox! Ha! You mess with the bull, you get the horns, brother!
But remember, you gotta remain anonymous, so make sure your name isn’t on anything you send them. Or, to be perfectly safe, send the envelope back empty! It still costs them 44¢!
Look, the banks and credit card companies are getting a lot of their own junk mail back thanks to this ingenious plot, but folks, we need to overwhelm them! Let’s let them know what it’s like to get lots of junk mail, and, best of all, make ’em pay for it — twice!
And even more best of all, you help keep the post office in business when you do it!
Now, excuse me, but I gotta watch the bonus round!
Screech at you next week!
Bensonhurst's Carmine Santa Maria is a Brooklyn legend who's been teaching Brooklynites the tango since the 1960s.