My patience for telemarketing grows shorter with every call. Billboard advertising may ruin my view of the world, but calling me at home to sell me a product steals my time and invades my privacy. Realizing I’ve trapped an unsuspecting rat, I sometimes use the opportunity to engage the caller in a discussion of Kant’s Categorical Imperative.
Me: You know what would really work for me? How about you give me your home phone number and I’ll call you there at my convenience. I am, after all, the customer.
Them: Well sir, this will only take a minute, and…
Me: I wonder what it would be like if every business in the Yellow Pages called people in their homes to sell them their products. The home phone would become unusable. Do you really intend that every business should do what you’re doing right now? Do you understand that this form of marketing, if performed by all vendors, would literally make home life unlivable for the very customers you’re trying to reach?
Act so that the maxim [determining motive of the will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings.
Them: [stone silence]
Me: Telemarketing is immoral.
And thereabouts the caller generally gives up on me. But this morning, as I took an unsolicited call from MCI with a towel wrapped around my waist, the telemarketer responded with this:
Them: Sir, it’s the American way.
I was dumbfounded. I should have responded by asking what part of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” telemarketing came under. Instead I lost my head and just started yelling at him. I don’t know what. Something about how can he sleep at night, etc. It was kind of nuts. Amy got worried for me, wondered what I was doing to my blood pressure. I suppose she’s right, but damn it felt good. Cathartic.