Sometimes, voicemail can be a blessing. Other times, it only delays the inevitable.
Yesterday morning I had to call and cancel an appointment with a pushy salesman trying to get me to buy new gutters for my house. Under the mistaken impression that his firm would simply clean my gutters rather than propose a whole new installation, I made this poor man drive all the way from Charlotte to Rock Hill last week. I dashed his planned two-hour sales pitch about 15 minutes in, when I had decided that I (and he) urgently needed to be someplace else.
To peel him off of me, I had to promise he could come back Monday when I’d be better prepared to carve out a good eighth of my waking hours to learn about the advantages of Guardian Gutters (or perhaps it was Gutter Guardians). Now, only hours from the appointed time, I was going to back out.
I called his office and listened carefully to their voicemail options, as it seems they had changed recently. Patience paid off when I learned that option 6 was to cancel a sales presentation. It looked like my rejection could be done automatically.
Unfortunately, after a few rings on the other end of the line, a machine belonging to “Ed Reynolds” picked up and claimed he was out of the office but would return my call when he returned. I didn’t dare simply leave a message and hope that my salesman, some non-Ed Reynolds guy whose name I think was Mike Something, would get word in time to abort his 2 p.m. appointment. So I hung up and re-dialed the main number.
This time, I chose option 2, to speak with an office manager. I mentally rehearsed the reasons I would give for ditching a perfectly serviceable gutter guy on such late notice:• My aunt’s recently diagnosed hair cancer looked like it was spreading to her eyebrows and mustache, and family had been advised to prepare for the worst, plus • I was expecting an urgent call from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, plus
• I damaged my hearing at a Mannheim Steamroller concert and couldn’t hear a word he was saying, plus
• It’s pretty hectic so close to the holidays, maybe we can reschedule after the new year.
The office manager was all business regarding my request and, to my relief, she didn’t demand an explanation. She did press for a January meeting, and I agreed, but didn’t settle on a year. When they do call back to remind me of that perceived commitment, I’ll deny all knowledge of gutters, eaves, fascia and soffits, and will adamantly insist that roofing in general is all a big hoax.
I did, however, want to make sure that the salesman was absolutely, positively not coming. I didn’t fancy the thought of again having to resist his sales superpowers and escort him off my property at the same time.
“You’ve definitely got the right appointment cancelled?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “You’re in Rock Hill, on Brookshadow Drive. The 2 p.m.”
That’s the one. I thanked her for her time, apologized for the inconvenience, and ended up pretty confident that the salesman wouldn’t return that afternoon.
I got off early from work so I could be home in time to lock all the doors, draw all the curtains and hide under the covers of my bed until at least 3:30. Just in case.