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Telemarketers and Me, or learning to hang up

When I was in Jacksonville, FL, I did not have a problem being polite to telemarketers. I said, “I’m sorry. I just can’t do this right now.” They said, “Okay. Have a good day.” And then they went away and left me alone. I never had repeat calls or any reason to be impolite on the phone.

I had a serious problem with even the idea of hanging up on any phone call for any reason. I did not have a problem with setting the phone down and wandering off for a while—I did that to ex-boyfriends who called to continue the fight we had broken up about—but I did have a problem with actually hanging up.

When I moved to Provo, UT, I started getting calls from telemarketers who would not take a polite “no” for an answer. I once spent half an hour on the phone with someone who wanted me to get a newspaper subscription. I did not want a subscription (because they tend to pile up), and I told the caller why as part of my polite refusal. The caller continued to try to sell the subscription. I told him that I was never going to get a subscription, so he should accept that and let me go. He came up with other reasons why I should get a subscription.

I let him keep talking. I changed the subject to pets and weather, but I was not going to change my mind about the subscription. I told him that I hated to waste his time. I told him that I remembered when I was a telemarketer (in Jax, FL, for a very short time) we were told to make as many calls in as short a time as possible. If we got a no, then we were to politely end the call and try someone else. I suggested that he should try that method. He said he was sure that he could get me to change my mind. I told him he could go ahead and try.

We were on the phone for a remarkably long time. I remember that I was able to stretch the cord into the kitchen to get dinner for the kids while he continued to tell me about why I wanted a subscription. I continued to listen politely for a while and then change the subject when I saw an opening. I regularly reminded him that I had already told him no.

I don’t remember how long this went on, but it was at least 45 minutes. I remember being shocked that he had not gotten yelled at by his boss. I did finally get him to agree to hang up.

I spoke with many telemarketers in Provo this way. This was my first experience with telemarketers who would not take a polite refusal for an answer. I was amused at first because I thought it was just a few determined go-getters, but after a while, I realized that this was their culture. They could not believe that someone could keep saying no, so they just kept asking until they got a yes. They were counting on polite people giving in because it was the polite thing to do. This was a very annoying realization. I had special needs children to raise, and I had things to do. I was getting tired of spending half an hour or more on the phone with strangers who were trying to exploit the rules of a polite society.

I still could not hang up on them, though. I could say no in a thousand different polite ways, but I could not hang up on a phone call.

I remember one particularly entertaining conversation that I had with a telemarketer shortly after I had been working with one of my autistic children on her carrier phrases. I had told the caller, “No, thank you. I don’t need [one of those].” and she kept selling. So, I told her, “Okay. I said, ‘No, thank you.’ Now, what do you say?” She went to selling again, so I repeated myself, “No. I said, ‘No thank you.’ Now, what do you say? You say, ‘Okay. Thank you for your time. Have a good night.’” She continued trying to sell me on her product, so I said it again, as if I were talking to a child much slower-witted than any of my special needs kids, “No. I said, ‘No thank you.’ Now, you say, ‘Okay. Thank you for your time. Have a good night.’ Go ahead. You can do it.” This went on for a short time, but, as I kindly explained to her, I have two autistic children, so I can repeat things for a very, very long time and never lose my temper.

She eventually gave me the proper response, to which I encouragingly replied, “That was very good! I knew you could do it! Good night now!” And she hung up.

I used that one a few times. It was fun every single time.

I did eventually learn to hang up on telemarketers. I really had to. I wasn’t in Florida anymore, and the telemarketers I was encountering in the West (and later in the Midwest) were just determined to force people to be rude to them. I started out very politely explaining that I was going to hang up now, and I was very sorry. Eventually, I could just hang up without explanation as soon as they did not respond properly to my polite refusal.

Once I learned to hang up on telemarketers, I was able to hang up on other people, too. I hung up on my sister when she started saying racist words about the President in 2009. I hung up on my ex-husband in 2011 when he started calling me names on the phone or when he otherwise tried to bully me into giving him his way. I can also now hang up on businesses or bureaucrats who refuse to move past their, “but that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. I hung up on a dentist’s receptionist just the other day because she would not commit to assuring me that her dentist was a kind person who would not scream at the office workers or make the patients cry. In fact, she got pretty snippy about it. She seemed to think that if I wanted to know what kind of a person the dentist is, I should just show up on appointment day and see for myself. So, I hung up on her.

I was paralyzed for a very long time by my inability to hang up on people. I couldn’t do it. I went to great lengths to avoid it.

Now I may be mad with power.

The Cycle of Forgiveness

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me. I am sad and angry.

I tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

The someone apologizes and seems sorry for what was done.

I forgive the someone. I am no longer sad or angry. I feel happiness and joy.

I love someone very much.

That someone hurts me.

I am sad and angry;

I do not tell the someone how the behavior made me feel.

That someone hurts me again. It doesn’t hurt as much this time because I knew it would happen.

I love someone very much, but I know that this someone will not take care of my feelings in a thoughtful or kind way. Explanations are not going to make things better.

I start to avoid this someone. I find other, better places to be than the places where this someone is. If possible, I cut this someone out of my life entirely.

I feel happiness and joy.

Occasionally, I am sad because I miss the good parts of the someone who hurt me, but I remember the pain the someone caused. It doesn’t hurt as much from the distance of time, but I remember that it hurt. I remember how often I explained that it hurt, but the someone kept doing it anyway. I look at the good things that I have in my life now, even without that someone.

I feel happiness and joy.

 

Change the Default Color for Tracked Changes in Word 2007

This information is covered in multiple areas, but if you don’t know that it is even possible, how can you conduct the search for how to do it?

I want to open by assuring you that I do love the color red. It is a great color. I do not, however, like using it when I mark up a document. I realize that many (probably most) people are not bothered at all by red marks on their manuscripts, but I did not write this for the well-adjusted people who have no problems. I wrote this for the rest of us.

When I edit a document in Word, I use Track Changes. By default, these changes are in a horrifying red. When I am done working on a manuscript, it looks as if I bled all over it! It is garish and disorienting. This is how I feel about that much red.

When I found that the standard editing procedure was to use Track Changes, I thought I was going to have to give up editing! Honestly, it bothered me that much. I thought that not only would I not want to have to look at a document that was all marked in red, but my clients would not want to, either.

I love editing more than I hate Track Changes, though, so I had to find a way. I started my highly technical method of mashing random buttons in Word to see if I could fix the problem. Eventually, I found a solution that worked for me.

On the Review tab, you will see the “Track Changes” button. It is in two parts. The top part just turns Track Changes on and off, the bottom part is a down-arrow that gives you three options: Track Changes, Change Tracking Options, and Change User Name. The first option is just a more complicated way to turn Track Changes on and off. The second one is the one you want to choose now.

You will get a menu. The picture below is just the top part of your menu, your menu will be much bigger and all the colors will be different:

Changing Track Changes 01

In the Comments box, it will likely say, “By Author” and have a red rectangle on top of a blue rectangle. This is where you change your color to whatever you want.

NOTE (only relevant if you have multiple contributors):

When you choose By Author, each contributor’s notes will be in a different color, but the color is chosen by Word; you have no control over the color choices.

When you choose your own color, each contributor’s notes will be in that color,you cannot give each commenter his or her own color.

This is a trade I am willing to make. I don’t need multiple colors; I just need something more calming than RED all over my work.

You can choose whatever color you like here. I chose blue because my favorite colors, green and dark green, were just too bright. Blue is a nice, calm color. It is dark enough to see, and light enough to see through. It says, “Oh, look at me. I am important, but you needn’t be upset. Everything will be okay.”

If you are a writer and you have sent your manuscript out to be edited, it is going to come back to you with the editor’s notes and changes. It is jarring enough to see how many suggestions your editor has without having them all hit you in the face with the color red.

Do yourself a favor and change the color of your Tracked Changes now, before you get your manuscript back. If you already have your manuscript back, and you find yourself feeling frustrated or anxious, adjust the color of your changes. Colors are important. Don’t let anybody tell you they don’t matter.

Things I Do That Might Be Considered Strange: When I go to a movie, I order the largest popcorn size they have. I only eat a few cups of it during the movie and take the rest home so I can have movie popcorn as a snack whenever I am struck by the whim. It lasts a good long while in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

A Note About Blogging

I have been spending my in-between-jobs time reading blogs by authors and editors all around the country. I have purchased a few books by authors who tout the great need for editors, and I have found these books to be well written, well edited, and entertaining.

I am surprised, then, when I regularly find simple errors throughout the blog posts of these same writers.

Now, I do understand that blogs are intended to be more casual. I get that we are not supposed to be too picky about a person’s blog because the post was probably thrown together at two in the morning and tossed online on the way to bed.

If you are using your blog as a way to connect with your readers, please tell me that you did not just dash off a blog post at two in the morning, post it, and go to bed. Tell me that you held onto it until morning, read it over carefully while you drank your morning beverage and then posted it online for all the world to see.

Your blog is a reflection of your skill as a writer. You have to take your time with it. I know that you want to get your thoughts out into the world as soon as you have them, but they need to be readable and understandable; you need to read over them a few times first. Of course, I think you should have an on-call editor to edit your blog posts before they go up, but I have already been shouted down on that point. The next best thing is to have someone in your life who you can count on to read your blog post and find all those embarrassing mistakes that you thought you fixed, but you actually only made worse. You don’t want some random person (probably me) to send you an email that points out your error. You absolutely do not want some random person (never me) to post a derisive comment in your comment section about your mistake.

If you cannot manage to send your post to someone else for review before you post it, at least read it out loud to your cat, dog, or favorite inanimate object before you click “Publish”. Seriously.

Your books are not the only things you write for the public. Don’t publish a flawless book, only to publicize on a sloppy blog.

Things I Do That Might Be Considered Strange: When I was a teenager, I would tell my mom, “I think I am coming down with a cold or something.” She would tell me, “No you’re not,” and I would be fine later on that afternoon. Now, when people tell me they think they are coming down with something, I tell them, “No, you’re not.” They are better by morning. I don’t know why it works, but it does make life easier.

The Odd Discovery of the Day

I have recently become acquainted with my father. My adult daughter, B, developed a sudden desire to learn more about her ancestry, so she looked for him and found him. That is a very long story, but not the point of this one.

My father, P, and my adult daughter, B, have been corresponding about family history. Last night, P passed on a very interesting story that B shared with me, and I will share now with you, in extreme Reader’s Digest form:

My great-grandmother was named Vera. Her name was Vera Strange, actually, which is a superbly awesome name to be born with. I wish I had known that the last name “Strange” was part of my family history. I would have claimed it ages ago. I digress.

Vera had a daughter named Ellena.

Ellena grew up, married a Tuggle, and had several sons, one who was named P. P grew up and married my mother, then disappeared from her life before the naming of their offspring.

Without any prior knowledge of my family history, my mother named me, Veronica Elaine.

And that, I believe, is Vera Strange.

Things I Do That Might Be Considered Strange: I have a tendency to have very bizarre coincidences pop up in my life that defy reasonable explanation. I don’t know what to do with these coincidences beyond notice them, record them, and move on. I also have very vivid dreams.

A Note About Erotic Story Writing

It isn’t just about the sex. The sex is important, obviously. It is why we bought the book to begin with, but you have to have a decent story to carry your readers from sex scene to sex scene.

You will always have readers who will completely ignore anything that happens between the sex scenes, but if you want your book to be good, if you want people to talk about your book in audible tones right out in public, you are going to have to have a real story with real characters who have real emotions and motivations. In case I am not clear, I mean that you are going to have to MAKE IT REAL.

I have a lot of ideas about how you should go about this because I am not a writer. I am an editor, and I know what I want you to do because that will make my job easier.

As an editor, I think all stories should begin with an outline. As a person, I know that writers do not always start with an outline. Writers that I know just start pouring words out on the page and hope that they turn into something useful later. I greatly hope that they will have turned their stream of consciousness thoughts into something that passes for coherency before they send it to me, but that is likely a rant for another post.

In my ideal world, though, you start with an outline for the story that you want to tell. Make sure that your story is complete and compelling. Write your story without the sex scenes. Make it a good story that can stand on its own merits. Give each character depth and life. After you have told a really great story, go back in and add the steamiest sex scenes you can describe. Add as many as you can possibly imagine.

I have a reason for this request.

I want sex to be mainstream. I want violence to be the dirty secret people sneak around to indulge in and sex to be simply a part of the story that is being told. I am tired of going to movies and seeing parents cheerfully watching horrific violence with their kids, but then gasping and covering their children’s eyes because a breast appeared out of nowhere.*

I think one of the ways that we get there is with well-written erotica.

A good example of what I am talking about is in a book I recently edited, Genesis Deflowered, by Matthew Stillman. He took an existing book, the book of Genesis, from the King James version of the Bible, and he filled in the details of the stories that were already there. His additions actually made the book much more readable, and they made the characters much more human.

This is what I want you to do with your writing. I want you have a story that you feel is full and complete, then I want you to add intimate scenes that enhance the character of your characters. I knew a woman once, ages ago, who loved to say, “You never really know a man until you’ve slept with him.” I want to know your characters.

Things I Do That Might Be Considered Strange: If a food is really, really good, I don’t want to eat the last bite unless I am reasonably sure I am going to be able to have it again soon. I will delay the last bite until the choice is, “eat it or throw it away”, and then I will reluctantly go ahead and eat it. If I am in a restaurant, I can often hide this behavior by saving half and asking for a to-go box.

*I did not realize that the 3D version of Hansel & Gretel was going to be that violent.

Opening Statement

I am not a writer. I am an editor. When I write, I tend to constantly edit myself in an effort to make everything exactly right. Unfortunately, this means that most of my writings never make it to publication. It takes me weeks to write a simple email. Okay, maybe not weeks, but certainly days.

Even still, I cannot resist having thoughts that I want to share with anyone who is willing to listen. I post in forums. I post in comment sections. I get into flame wars, usually by accident, with random internet trolls.

Sometimes, though, I want to share these thoughts on purpose with a wider audience. For instance, the post right after this one was inspired by a picture I saw while I was wandering the internet.

The purpose of this blog, then, is to mention the things that I think need mentioning. I am going to try to stay focused on writing and editing type topics, but I do tend to get rather excited about a variety of other topics as well. I am also going to try to avoid the problem I have with editing myself into silence. I self-consciously think this means that you will not be getting my best work, but realistically I think it means that I will still do my best, I just won’t kill myself trying to be perfect. I am going to try to save the editing for the writers who need me. For you, I am going to just write and see what happens.

Edited to Add (ETA): Apparently, it also means that I will publish, then go back and try to clarify what I meant. I will try to keep that to a minimum, as well.

Things I Do That Might Be Considered Strange: I name every new file in my computer with the date (year, month, day), then whatever I think it should be named. I started doing this only for pictures, but it has spread throughout my system.

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