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A Bout of Carriage Wit

December 30, 2009

As I was reading over at Gallup how Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is 2009’s most admired woman, I thought about the first and only phone call I’ve received from the Gallup people. It was just the other evening. When I answered the phone, a man identified himself as being from Gallup. I thought, okay, I am willing to consider participating, depending on what he wants to know. Then, before he gave me time to agree that I would listen, said, “I will need to speak to a female over 18 years old.” I cannot describe the visceral repulsion and anger I had at his demand. He did not ask, “May I,” or “Could I possibly speak to a female over 18,” or even explain why he would need to speak to a female over 18, he simply demanded to speak to a female over 18. I hung up the phone. Then I thought about what I should have said. According to the Scarlet Pimpernel, that is how carriage wit works. At the ball, one is not clever enough to respond with wit and does not think of anything to say until riding home in his or her carriage. I wish at the time I would have at least cursed him out and said something like, “You fucking bastard, you don’t call my house making demands.”

Oh, and I am so willing to own that I was immature, irrational, and whatever. Because, whatever.

  1. joankelly6000 permalink
    December 31, 2009 2:19 am

    I wouldn’t care if it *had* been immature or irrational, I’m a sucker for a good I-hung-up-on-some-irritating-person story. This should be submitted to Best Hang Up Stories of 2009. Got in just under the wire, too.

  2. atheistwoman permalink
    December 31, 2009 2:28 am

    Carriage wit, ha! All my wits are carriage wits. That’s why I blog. My favorite strategy, (which only works if one is male, etc) is to say that whoever the man is calling had died.

  3. dierdriu permalink
    December 31, 2009 3:22 am

    I don’t know if the regulations are different down there in America, but as someone who has worked in the market research field in Canada I can tell you that anyone working on my team who spoke to a respondent like that would be summarily fired. We had very careful training and strict monitoring to ensure that our surveyors always treated respondents respectfully. We used scripts such as, “Hello, my name is Pat Green and I’m calling for “Bla bla research”. Thank you for taking my call. We are doing a survey on bla bla bla this evening. May I ask if there is an adult female member of the household free to speak to me at this moment? .” So it seems to me that the person you spoke to was WAY out of line!

    If I had received such treatment I would have asked to speak to a supervisor and reported the surveyor who spoke to me as being quite rude. You can still call Gallup if you wish and let them know that you are unhappy, they probably won’t be able to identify the specific person but will probably just remind all staff of the importance of polite and respectful conduct. The whole industry is threatened by such unprofessional behaviour if it is allowed to persist, so they will probably be glad to hear your report. I know I always took such complaints very seriously when i was still in the field.

  4. January 1, 2010 5:04 am

    In my experience there’s no good way to handle this kind of caller. I’ve gotten mad at them and said things, but it just raises my blood pressure. I’ve hung up. I’ve been polite and told them why they were being offensive, and they argued.

    My father has the only answer and it is pre planned. “I am sorry, but even for an organization so august as yours, I do not take this kind of call. Good-bye. Click.”

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