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Cold call:

n. a telephone call to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something.

v. to call someone without preparation or referral.

Most Spo-fans I surmise are old enough to remember a time before iPhones when telephones were attached to the wall or sitting ensconced on the table, and it was the ‘house phone’ not an individual. The question (after saying hello and who this was) was ti ask “Is so-and-so there?”. This  was followed by the recipient calling through the house “The phone’s for you!” I hope my memory is correct on this one that most phone calls were not expected but surprises – and pleasant ones at that. When you learned who was on the line your affect lit up with an “Oh, hi!” and what you were doing was stopped for awhile to gab a bit. If you didn’t want to talk, the picker-upper told the caller ‘you could not come to the phone right now’. If you really didn’t want to talk to anybody, you just let the phone ring.  It was an arrangement that worked.

I recently learned the expression ‘cold call’. Apparently people no longer like phone calls from others. What was once considered a pleasant surprise is an upsetting interruption. Texts out of the blue are OK but not phone calls. I admit when my iphone rings my emotions are not that of elation but dread someone is wanting to talk to me, so I am no different on this one. All the same I don’t like it.   

Brother #3 tells me his sons (now in their early 20s) never call anybody. They text rather. They see calling as a quaint old people’s thing. They also associate see all calls as cold calls.

I blame telemarketers why we cannot have nice things. We had such sales calls on our land lines but they seemed the exception not the rule.  I also blame our mania to multi-task. We can carry on a text conversation while bouncing about but a phone with a cord to the wall obliged us to stop what we were doing to do the call, which wasn’t a bad thing.

I still call folks, but I always ask: “Did I catch you at a bad time?” which is an indirect speech act to ask “Do you want to talk to me now?”. Sometimes I am told yes, and I call back later. Unless my friends and family are insincere, it seems they still enjoy my phone calls out of the blue. 

I have one friend who does not have a cellphone (can you imagine?). When I call George, I am calling his house. Sometimes he is not there or he does’t pick up (he also does not have an answering machine). He is always delighted to talk with me and he never tells me call later. It is like a phone call from the past, and it feels lovely. 

Spo-fans: do you still call people just to chat? 

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February 2021

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