I’ve gotten to where I’m afraid to answer the phone. In my office I don’t have caller ID, so I don’t know I’m about to get a sucker punch until I hear the pause on the line, then a nasally voice says, “Is Mr. or Mrs. So and So at home?” You know good and well that it’s not a friend or family member because they’d know you were home when you answered the phone. To toy with them I say, “This is Mr. So and So.”  They stutter and then, like the polished actors they are, get right back to the script and start telling you, in earnest, that this is NOT a sales call. They simply have a small survey that will only take a few seconds, and could you please tell them if you have a heater in your house (no), does it have an air filter (yes), does anyone in your house have asthma or allergies (no), what is your age group (infant), are you working (get serious), how many children are living in the house (two dozen, I think. I’ve lost count).

Then they tell you that, based on your preposterous answers, you’ve qualified for a free in-home consultation at absolutely no obligation to you, it’s a free service they’re offering to people in your neighborhood because you’re special and they happened to be right down the street doing something important and can just drop in, say on Tuesday, or Wednesday if that would work better.

Do people really fall for this? Because I can tell you this, if you let them come to your house, they’ll convince you to buy some air filtration system that costs more than the crown jewels and, when it’s all said and done, you won’t notice you’ve got it, though you’ll try to convince yourself it’s working and saving doctor bills and removing dust in your home, though dust is like air – it goes where it wants to go and doesn’t need to consult you if it wants to lay in a grey film over everything you own, air filter or no air filter.

Sometimes I get calls from people wanting to give me an amazing vacation package to some new resort, but I have to bring my husband, and we have to sit through a ninety-minute sales pitch to buy a time-share, though they don’t put it that way. They say they just want to make sure we’re aware of all the amenities, which they list in exceptionally cheery tones.

I’ve been on a couple of these and they aren’t so bad, really, until the sales person takes you in the little room and tells you he’s not going to try and sell you on the place because it’s really the best deal on the planet so you’d be very wise to get in on it now because prices will go up and they’re running a special offer TODAY ONLY. After you say about forty no thank-you’s, the manager comes in just to make absolutely sure you know how stupid you are for passing up this once in a lifetime deal. You have to agree out loud that you are stupid before they’ll turn you lose, but it’s worth it.

So I’ve pretty much given up answering the phone. I let the machine take the call and then call people back who aren’t hustling me for something. I figure I save about two hours a day doing this, and my wallet can breathe easier, even if I won’t be able to until I buy the gold-plated filter. Personally, I get along just fine with dust.