Thursday, October 07, 2010

No, I Am Not Mrs. Bartlett

Dear Telemarketers, Solicitors, and Other Various And Sundry People Who Call My House A Lot, Especially Around Dinnertime To Request Donations, Hawk Services, And So On,

I would very much appreciate it if, upon learning that my partner is not available to take your call, you refrained from calling me "Mrs. Bartlett". Not that I have anything against my partner's's just that you're assuming quite a lot when you do that. And we all know what that does to people.

I know you were probably trained, for who knows what ridiculous reason, to refer to people in the fashion which I am describing for the sake of someone's idea of "politeness". But, well, I would like to state emphatically that I don't find it even remotely polite to have a complete stranger act like they must know me and my life well enough to presume I'm married.

Heck, how do you even know that I'm in any kind of relationship with the person you were actually trying to call? I could be a visitor...or a housekeeper...or some other family member...or who-knows-what else. How do you know I'm heterosexual? What my gender-identity is?

A former co-worker of mine, who was a lesbian, related once that a telemarketer called her up and when she answered, asked to speak to her husband. Her girlfriend at the time thought this was hilarious, but still. The bottom line is that fakey-fake "politeness" -- the kind where people pretend at more familiarity than they're really warranted, based on how well they actually know you -- wraps right back around and turns into rudeness.

So please just quit it. You absolutely do not need to make the assumptions you're making in order to get the information you want. And while you're at it, tell the checkers at Safeway to stop calling me Mrs. Corwin...I may not be married to my partner, but I'm not my mom, either.


- Anne Corwin (not "Mrs". anything!)

Applicable Disclaimers:
- Wonderful, Not Perfect


Justthisguy said...

I hate the phony commercial familiarity too, but in another way. I detest the use of first names by complete strangers whom I know only as disembodied voices on the telephone. I don't like it when they call me by my first name, and I don't like it when they won't tell me _their_ surname.

I got hoppin' mad at one gal on the phone one time who referred to herself only by her forename, though she knew my full name.

I said something to her like, "Well, little girl, could you hand the phone to a grown-up? She spluttered a bit and said "What?" I explained that traditionally forenames are used to address intimate friends, small children, slaves, and domestic animals. She not being my intimate friend, I was as charitable as I could be and called her a little girl.

Grown-ups are properly addressed by strangers by using an honorific and one's surname, if it is known.

The person who spoke to you should just have called you Ma'am without using words which implied a relationship he had no way of knowing existed.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. When I wrote "hoppin' mad", I meant quite literally hoppin' mad.

I think I have a touch of the "A" m'self, and my perceiving injustice may sometimes cause me to jump up and down. I slightly sprained an ankle by doing that once, just because I was listening to an account on the radio of some policemen behaving badly.

Justthisguy said...

Ma'am, if I ever happen to meet you in real life (a very unlikely possibility, in my humble opinion), I would address you as Miss Corwin (after we'd been properly introduced to each other, of course)

Anne Corwin said...

justthisguy: Yeah, I don't mind being called "Ms. Corwin" or "Miss Corwin" (or even "Ma'am" is fine, old-fashioned-sounding as it may be).

The use of first names by complete strangers bugs me as well though, whether it's me being addressed thusly or someone else.

I've been irritated many times by telemarketers and their ilk calling and (if I answer) saying "Hi, is Matt there?" (Matt being my Significant Other) and my figuring it's someone Matt actually knows, such as a co-worker, only to find out I've ended up passing along a sales call or similar. Often these people will, when I ask who THEY are, respond with THEIR first name ("This is Bob!"), when they have to know full well that this gives me NO useful information about why they're calling or who they are. I personally have no qualms about hanging up on such folks when things reach that level.