Rude Dude
Off the Wall, September 4,

The phone rings. One races to the telephone to pick up the receiver. When one hears the message the caller is trying to convey, he acts according to emotion. Most likely, he will respond abruptly, disrupting the conveyed message and do one of three things.

Some people may slam the receiver down; others push down the little button on the phone, while a few may just hang on until the caller hangs up. It is my opinion that the third way is rare, but it’s been known to be effective.

Back in July, I was interested in getting some information that dealt with my personal life and decided to call a health institution to see what I needed to qualify for my needs. Trying to be my cheerful self, I maintained a friendly line of questioning. All of a sudden, out of the blue, the party on the other end hung up on me.

I don’t care how one looks at this ordeal. That person was rude – no doubt about it. Here again, in my opinion, if a person is hired to do a job, and is assigned to hold that particular position, he or she must always be friendly, answer all questions to the best of his or her ability and stay on the line the duration of that phone call.

When one works for a big organization, he, in all likelihood, is paid a salary. A lot of telemarketers work on a commission-type basis. So, they’ll try to call as many people as they can to accumulate the most money for their pocketbooks. That’s understandable. But for a salaried person to do this, that’s what I refer to as uncalled for – pure and simple.

I have to laugh at my telephone strategies. If I have a few minutes to kill, they are a bit different. I try to put myself in caller’s shoes and be, at least, pleasant. I’ve been known to sing to them. Many have told me “You made my day. I usually get people hanging up on me.”

I remember one individual to whom I spoke. I told him I would be happy to hear him out as long as he would do the same for me. I’m not sure if it was the Fraternal Order of Police, Cancer Society for Dying Children or the National Organization for Women. So, they read their well-planned lines of enticement. “Now,” it’s my turn,” I said. I first sang them my version of ‘Row, Row, Row, My Boat,’ followed by ‘It’s a Lovely Day in the Neighborhood,’ closing with Happy Trails to You.’ I received a chuckle, a compliment of my singing and a ‘thank you’ all in one breathe. I decided ‘what was good for the goose was good for the gander,’ as the saying goes.

Rudeness may be evidenced in other ways.

How many times have you seen someone sleeping through a presentation? True, some people have physical impediments of which they have no control, which when conditions are right, will fall asleep without so much of a blink of an eye. This could be caused by low blood pressure, for example.

Recently, I was talking to a man at the Latrobe Farmer’s Market. As I proceeded to share with him my insights, he proceeded to look around and not at me while I was trying to make a point. After a while, I began to wonder why I was going to the trouble of even trying to carry on a conversation. Here was a man who was a rude dude.

Since there are a good amount of residents that meet between 12 noon and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, people will come and go so quickly. Friends, for example, will come and go quickly without staying for a few minutes. In my book, that’s not rude. At least they stopped.

I remember attending a function at Adams Memorial Library honoring Winnie Palmer. Circles of individuals gathered. When I tried to hold a conversation with a person, it seemed he always looked over my head to see who he could see. In my book, that is what I refer to as a ‘rude dude.’

As hard as it is, we all can do better. First, think before you act. Second, try to be polite. Third, thank the individual for calling, expressing “I am not interested at this time,” followed by “God bless you.” Sure beats slamming the phone down!.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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