In April 2019, I wrote about telephone protocol and how it’s changed over the years. With so many robocalls and telemarketers calling, it’s hard to stay civil. I know for some of them, it’s a job putting food on their tables, and as long as there’s a dollar to be made, there will be telemarketers. But that doesn’t mean I like it. I’ve become quite snippy when I answer the phone from unknown numbers.

Recently, Hubby and I made a large contribution to the local food bank and thought no more about it. While we were watching the news one evening, I got a call from an unknown number out of Sioux Falls. Most of the spam calls I get are from somewhere in Idaho so this one stood out as unusual. Had the spammers already figured out we’d moved? I looked at it, wondering if I should answer. Curiosity, more than anything, made me push the green button.

Me into phone: Hello (in a low snarly voice)

Him on phone: This is <mumble mumble> (I didn’t understand what he said) from Feeding South Dakota.

Me thinking to myself: Who is this? Someone asking me for more money? Good grief! We sent them a chunk of change and now they want more! Internal grumble, grumble

Him on phone: I wanted to thank you for your donation. It was very generous of you in this season for giving.

Me thinking to myself: What? What did he say? He doesn’t want more money? How do I respond? I don’t know.

Me on phone: I hope you feed lots of people.

Him on phone: We will feed many people thanks to you.

Silence on phone. I can’t think of what to say even though he is evidently waiting for some sort of response from me.

Him on phone: Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

Me on phone: Merry Christmas.

He hung up.

Me thinking to myself: What just went on? Someone called to say thank you for our donation?

The phone call blew my mind. Blew it so far I couldn’t talk or think straight. I was totally embarrassed by my lack of graciousness. I later found out he was the state-wide manager of Feeding South Dakota. The top guy taking the time to call us and say thanks. I felt awful.

I’ve never been able to think quickly on my feet, and this phone conversation exemplified it. I expected a spammer wanting my money. He probably expected a sweet lady who liked to do good things, but instead got someone gruff and defensive. My mistake.

A lot of people won’t answer the phone unless they know who is calling. That makes it hard when friends are calling for the first time. I’ve sometimes had to resort to sending an introductory text or email saying if they see this number on their phone, it’s me.

I answer some of the unknown numbers I get because I have a business and it might be a potential client calling or someone I’ve talked to at a conference. Most of the time it’s not, but a few times, I was happy I answered. I once got a text from an unknown number with a photo of my daughter in it. Initially, it scared me, but with a few return texts I found out it was from someone I know and adore sharing the cute picture. That number is no longer unknown when it comes in.

I’m adding another goal to my list from last week. I’ll answer unknown numbers with an attitude of maybe there’s something good on the other end. In most cases, I’ll be disappointed because it’ll be someone trying to sell me something, but for the few that are legit, the caller and I will be glad I have a better attitude. It’s a less hostile way to do business, and goodness knows we need less hostility in the world.

Now if only I could learn to think faster….

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