Troi’s Guide To Answering The Phone

So, this is how you do it. First, it rings. You don’t really have any part in this. It either rings or it doesn’t. Well, you can force somebody to call you. But then it takes away the whole surprise element of receiving the call in the first place, plus, you will seem pretty uncool. So back to my instructions. The phone rings. You pick up the receiver. My grandparents found this very difficult. They thought phones without a cord had an appearance akin to a walkie-talkie, and they answered it accordingly (HA HA, a-CORD-ingly, as in telephone cords, those things telephones had in my grandparents’ day before the dawn of cell phones). In other words they held the section that should be next to your ear as if it were the mouthpiece and talked into it. Nobody ever talked back. Don’t make this mistake; ensure you answer the phone in such a manner that some section of the phone lies in the vicinity of your ear. This will enhance your communicative success rate by at least 75%. After you place the phone in its proper place on the side of your head so that you can speak and listen, and so that it meets ergonomic requirements for head and neck comfort, you should produce a verbal utterance. “Hello” is commonly accepted. “Goodbye” is funnier. It’s also the standard usage according to Philip K. Dick’s science-fiction universe in “Counter-Clock World.” After saying hello, you may notice you like the sound of your voice and continue to talk. This is not proper phone etiquette. You instead wait for the caller to respond and express his or her justification for his or her call. Listen skeptically and judgmentally. There is usually some fault you can find with his or her answer. For example, if a “friend” is “just calling to say hello,” it is standard to follow with an accusation such as, “Well, you already said that!! Why are you still on the line?!” Then slam the phone down. But remember proper phone etiquette; make sure to say “goodbye” first. (Or “Hello,” if you like Philip K. Dick.) Another phone call excuse that should instantly put you on suspicious guard is a caller who is in any way friendly. A friendly caller is called a “solicitor.” He or she is not your friend. If your caller sounds friendly, slam the phone down as suggested above. Then change your number, change your name, and move to another city, preferably another state, and just to be safe, maybe another country. You might also want to change your haircolor. You may choose a brand that covers gray.

To subscribe to my free* pamphlet, “Answering the Phone Only Looks Easy,” please send your check or money order in the mail. And please send it to me. Not a solicitor. Solicitors are not your friends. But I am.

*Nothing is free in life. Get used to it.

–Troi out

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