I received a ludicrous phone call yesterday whilst on the train home to Somerset...I was already in an uncharacteristically bad mood due to having lost my oyster card, credit card, rail card and train tickets somewhere between Canary Wharf and Baker Street...not a happy bunny.
Between Paddington and Reading I'd managed to phone a number of call centres up and down the UK to cancel things, order new things, report somethings and hopefully get some sense out of my mishap of a morning. I have to give top marks to the young woman from TFL who completely saw the funny side of noting down distinguishing features of your oyster card holder - "It has, "Where Is my Fucking Travel Card?" written on the side."
However, upon finishing all of my necessary cancellations and requests, my phone rang -
"Hello" - Says I
"Hi, this is Chico." says a friendly voice.
I fight every urge to say "Is it that time already? Where does the day go..." and I just say hello again.
"I'm calling from one of the top fashion photography companies in the country. We're offering you the chance to come in for a fashion pampering session with us. Usually, this would cost you a thousand pounds... but because you've been recommended by a friend, we can offer it to you for £90 on a weekend, £60 if you come in during the week or just a £40 returnable deposit if you come in before the end of March. How does that sound?"
"It sounds awful." I say politely. There's a palpable silence. I wait patiently - I've got a 2 hour journey ahead of me and have no pressing need for him to move on.
"It sounds awful?"he repeats, sounding slightly incredulous. "Don't you want to do it?"
"Um, no. Not really. No, thank you - is that ok?"
"But you've been recommended...by your friend?" he sounds genuinely dumbfounded and I'm starting to feel a little sorry for him.
"Well," I say, trying to be friendly, "I'm sure she thought I might be interested but I think you're aiming at the wrong girl here. I'm really not into my fashion and the thought of being manhandled into different outfits and photographed looking like the chubby one from B*Witched at my own expense sounds frankly harrowing. I'm very sorry."
"So, you don't want want to do it... you, um, you're actually not interested?" he says again. I was starting to wonder if maybe I was a little crazy... perhaps I'm the first person that's ever turned him down?
"No." I say confidently. "Thank you very much for the offer but I don't want to."
"But, you've been recommended... by your friend... by your friend Jessica Dartmouth?" Hearing him read her name of the screen in front of him and use the full version that she never goes by almost made my compassion for Chico curl up into a ball and die.
"Well, you tell her thanks for checking if I was interested but I'm not. And, thank you again... she was just trying to be my friendly but, sadly, I loathe fashion, photographs, being touched by other people and I'm really not interested. Thanks, have a nice afternoon, ok?"
"But, we've gone out of our way to offer this to you?"
This, I'll admit, caught me off guard.
"No you haven't... you've just cold called me in the middle of the afternoon?"
"This isn't a cold call."
"Um, yes it is Chico..."
"No, this isn't a cold call. You've been recommended."
"I'm sorry if I'm ruining your self image of what you do for a living Chico, but you've called me out of the blue with no prior communication with me. I don't care if you have scoured your ex-clients facebook friends list for new leads... this is a cold call."
"No, you're wrong... this isn't a cold call."
"Chico, where are you sitting my love?"
"In an office."
"How many other people in the office Chico?"
"Can you name them all?"
"Do they all do the same job as you?"
"And, is that job to keep phoning people until you make a sale?"
"No. They're not 'sales'. It's just getting people to put down deposits."
"Do you get more money, the more people put down deposits?"
"Chico, you cold call people my love. I'm sorry... you have a lovely product I'm sure... but you really have to accept this job for what it is. You're very good at it."
"So... do you want to come in now then?"
"Fuck off Chico."