A tale of telemarketing and the expectation of zombie domesticity

Reprinted with permission, from a poster at the EssentialBaby forum. Emphasis is mine.

Phone rings. I pick up phone while kids are playing in the background.

Me: “Hello?”

Telemarketer (TM): [On hearing the noise] “Oh… you’re a Mum!”

Me: “Ummmm… Yes?”

TM: “Oh well, then you wouldn’t be able to do our survey anyway”.

Me: “RIght… I probably wouldn’t WANT to do your survey, but why CAN’T I do your survey?”

TM: “‘Cause you’re just a Mum, and I need people who work!”

Me: [Hackles up] “Oooooooo kkkkkkkkkk… so you don’t think the work Mums do makes them worthy of doing your survey?”

TM: [Back peddling] “Oh, I DIDN’T mean THAT! Just that spending all day with children means you wouldn’t know the answers to certain questions in our survey… regarding the media, politics etc!

We do have a section on shopping though!

Me: “I HATE shopping!”

TM: [Genuinely surprised] “Oh? Well what do you do then?”

Me: “Well… where do I start… when I’m not looking after my children, I work 2 days a week in an office and teach at University 2 afternoons a week!”

TM: [Complete change in her tone] “Oh well in THAT case!”

Me: [Had enough!] “I’m sorry but I have to go and change a nappy!”

Clunk! [Me hanging up]

(Mum, Graphic Designer/Art Director, Tertiary Lecturer)

We all love a good sexist-telemarketer story. Here’s one of mine. Tell us yours!

Categories: gender & feminism, work and family


12 replies

  1. My god, that is almost beyond belief.
    Telemarketers always assume that I’m a “Mrs.” for some reason. This annoys me. Why can’t they just use “Ms” and not make any assumptions about my marital status?

  2. Even women telemarketers default to “Mrs” according to my sister Rebbecca (the former Australian Democrats worker) who made the comment that many people must like genderisations and defining recipients by their marital status

  3. I find lately that I’m having to explain “Ms” more and more. Ten years ago I didn’t have that problem, but now some young pen pushers just look totally blank at this strange previously unbeknownst to them phoneme.

  4. Also, I’d bet “the housekeeping” that if a bloke had answered with the sound of kids in the background, the telemarketer would have said (with an audible cheerful wink)”Oh, hello there sir – babysitting for the missus, eh?”

  5. Well, no telemarketer stories, but I have had a door to door sales guy ask for my father. I live alone. I told him he’d have to go interstate if he really wanted to speak to my father.
    Clearly completely wrong-footed by this phenomenon of twenty two year old women with their own leases, he tried to sell me pay TV. I explained that I didn’t own a television set. He… *kept* trying to sell me pay TV. Guess it wasn’t his day.

  6. I love my caller ID — I just ignore the call if I don’t recognize the number. It has nearly eliminated my conversations with annoying telemarketers.

  7. I was raised by a single mom, and I’m old enough that divorce wasn’t as common then (at least in the US). If a caller asked to speak to Mr. Gruntled, she’d hand the phone to me — when I was about 8 years old.

  8. Bah.
    I would have been fired if I had done that when I was calling round on those types of jobs. My goodness. *eyeroll*
    I often inform people that Mrs his-last name is dead. When they ask for Mr my-last-name, they’re encouraged to call the other half of the country, where he lives. Having two different last names in the household is occasionally helpful.
    (Although yesterday we got mail addressed to his-first-initial, my-last-name and didn’t know who it was supposed to be for.)
    Annas last blog post..A Series of Odd Events

  9. I have to tell the survey-takers “no”, even if I want to express my opinion, because an immediate family member works for the media. Never mind that he’s an engineer, not a journalist, it makes all of our opinions invalid.

  10. *rrring!*
    Me (a woman): Hello?
    Telemarketer: Can I speak to the head of the household?
    Me: Can you tell me why you are calling?
    TM: Can I speak to the head of the household?
    Me: Can you tell me why you are calling?
    TM: Can I speak to the head of the household?
    Me: What is the reason for your call?
    TM: Can I speak to the head of the household?
    (srsly, he just kept saying that…)
    Me: There is no head of the household, my partner and I are equals. Why are you calling?
    TM: *silence*
    Me: Goodbye! *click*

  11. This is gonna be priceless when my fiance and I get around to marrying, because not only do he and I both intend to keep our names, both of our mothers did the same. Therefore there is no living person with the name “Mrs. mylastname” nor “Mrs. hislastname”.
    When I was a kid, I used to answer the phone looking for “Mrs. mydadslastname” with a redirect to my grandmother until my mom caught me at it and said to ask “Do you mean Dr. mymomslastname?” instead, in case it was something important.

  12. because not only do he and I both intend to keep our names,
    Nicely put, octopod.
    Deborahs last blog post..The Queen

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