Calamities in Call Screening

I’m trying something new on my blog — a segment called JCO or JC NO. I’ve got four of them planned. The premise is simple. Each Thursday, I’ll tell a JCO story. Then y’all decide if it’s fact (JCO) or fiction (JC NO). To see if you were right, come visit me the following Thursday. Before offering up that week’s JCO or JC NO, I’ll confirm or deny the veracity (solid word, no?) of the prior week’s story.SO, without further ado, the first ever JCO or JC NO:

We’ve all done it. Call screening, that is. Not a big deal, right? Which is why I never thought in a million years that such an act would land me in the scalding hot water it did. Long before Lovie, Pookie, and the trips came on the scene, a call screening mishap actually threatened my very job. And in February of 2000, I was ordered to catch a flight to LaGuardia and a car service up to Connecticut to meet my boss in his office to discuss the matter.

“Is it true?” he asked as he fiddled with his gold cufflinks from behind his mahogany desk.

Shit. Why did I have to get all cute? Why didn’t I just program in his name?!

It was the Thursday before the Super Bowl, and I was cocktailing at a midtown Atlanta hot spot when my phone rang. Though not programmed, the number was a familiar one.

Answer or ignore? Answer or ignore? Answer.

Bad call dot com.

It was one of my biggest clients, a guy who generated over five million dollars of investor deposits in the variable annuity and mutual fund products I was wholesaling at the time. Not exactly someone I could blow off.

Sadly, the guy was an INTOLERABLE clown. And he’d seemingly taken to me on a personal level such that he was constantly inviting me over to his house to “hang.” These hang sessions bordered on cruel and unusual punishment, so much so that during each one, I had to constantly remind myself of the money I earned thanks to this guy just to make it through them. It eventually dawned on me that I was essentially engaged in a watered-down, non-physical form of prostitution.

I can't due to, um, an appointment to get my hair cut.

And this whore had finally had enough.

So I started politely declining his invitations, coming up with on-the-spot bullshit excuses which precluded me from spending time with him. But each excuse was becoming less and less believable. So that night, after telling him I couldn’t eat dinner with his wife and him the following Monday due to an “appointment to get my hair cut,” I vowed to never again get caught off guard by one of his calls. I pulled up my caller ID and programmed his number such that the following name would pop up each time he rang:

“Do NOT answer.”

Harsh, right? Maybe. But it’s not like I was blackballing the guy. I still visited his office, supported his marketing efforts, and took him out to eat frequently. You see, it wasn’t so much that I minded spending time with him. It’s that I minded spending MY time with him.

So a coupla weeks later, we’re eating lunch at the Blue Ridge Grill, a swank establishment where pin-stripes eat at the tables in plain view of the Stilettos who loiter at the bar. My client had left his phone in my car.

“Can I borrow yours?” he asked.

“Sure,” I answered, thinking nothing of it as I handed him my cell. He dialed his wife, but there was no answer.

“Hmm. She must be taking a shower or something. I’ll call her back in a few minutes.”

Five minutes later, he borrowed my phone again, only instead of dialing the number, he simply pressed “send” to pull up the “numbers dialed” scroll. And at the very top was the last number dialed — the call he had just made. And, according to my phone, that number belonged to a person named

Do NOT answer.

Pretty awkward ride back to his office, even for a seasoned bullshit artist of my sophistication. And a pretty awkward conversation with my boss, too. The result? I kept my job, but I lost my client. Even so, I went on to have a great year, shattering all my goals in spite of losing one of my biggest producers. Oddly, the business I lost from that guy was more than made up for by all the other business I picked up in the office. In fact, I became a bit of a cult hero to all the other brokers there.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought my former client was a INTOLERABLE clown.

And there you have it. JCO, or JC NO? Lemme know what you think, if you’re so inclined.

Also, do you have a call screening calamity? Because I’d love to hear it.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com Mandy

    Yeah… I’m gonna say this one is real. JCO.

    I have not ever had a call screening calamity. But I’ve had some pretty bad texts sent to the wrong person. The kind where you hit that panic moment, and wonder how the heck you’re going to get out of this one?

    Not fun.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com Mandy

    Yeah… I’m gonna say this one is real. JCO.

    I have not ever had a call screening calamity. But I’ve had some pretty bad texts sent to the wrong person. The kind where you hit that panic moment, and wonder how the heck you’re going to get out of this one?

    Not fun.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com Mandy

    Yeah… I’m gonna say this one is real. JCO.

    I have not ever had a call screening calamity. But I’ve had some pretty bad texts sent to the wrong person. The kind where you hit that panic moment, and wonder how the heck you’re going to get out of this one?

    Not fun.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ Jack

    It is real.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ Jack

    It is real.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ Jack

    It is real.

  • T.R. Ray

    I have seen myself call screened. I was in a corporate box at a basketball game and saw a friend of mine sitting courtside through binoculars. I called him, I saw him pull his phone out of his pocket, read the name, hit ignore, and place phone back in pocket. I called back a few minutes later, he answered and I gave him some shit about it, but it was crazy funny and we laugh about it all the time.

  • T.R. Ray

    I have seen myself call screened. I was in a corporate box at a basketball game and saw a friend of mine sitting courtside through binoculars. I called him, I saw him pull his phone out of his pocket, read the name, hit ignore, and place phone back in pocket. I called back a few minutes later, he answered and I gave him some shit about it, but it was crazy funny and we laugh about it all the time.

  • T.R. Ray

    I have seen myself call screened. I was in a corporate box at a basketball game and saw a friend of mine sitting courtside through binoculars. I called him, I saw him pull his phone out of his pocket, read the name, hit ignore, and place phone back in pocket. I called back a few minutes later, he answered and I gave him some shit about it, but it was crazy funny and we laugh about it all the time.

  • T.R. Ray

    By the way I think your story is real JCO

  • T.R. Ray

    By the way I think your story is real JCO

  • T.R. Ray

    By the way I think your story is real JCO

  • http://www.wonderfriend.com Missy @ Wonder, Friend

    Real JCO.

    This story is just confirmation that I made a wise decision when entering certain family members’ numbers into my phone. I was so tempted to go with snarky, but had this sense of impending doom and went with, simply, their names. Boring, but safe.

  • http://www.wonderfriend.com Missy @ Wonder, Friend

    Real JCO.

    This story is just confirmation that I made a wise decision when entering certain family members’ numbers into my phone. I was so tempted to go with snarky, but had this sense of impending doom and went with, simply, their names. Boring, but safe.

  • http://www.wonderfriend.com Missy @ Wonder, Friend

    Real JCO.

    This story is just confirmation that I made a wise decision when entering certain family members’ numbers into my phone. I was so tempted to go with snarky, but had this sense of impending doom and went with, simply, their names. Boring, but safe.

  • Dragon

    That is a great story but I am 100% sure that it is FICTION. Keep em coming – love the concept!

  • Dragon

    That is a great story but I am 100% sure that it is FICTION. Keep em coming – love the concept!

  • http://www.myspellingsucks.com Kevin(TheDADvocate)

    I’m going JCO on this one. If it is JC No then you really do know yourself well.

  • http://www.myspellingsucks.com Kevin(TheDADvocate)

    I’m going JCO on this one. If it is JC No then you really do know yourself well.

  • http://www.myspellingsucks.com Kevin(TheDADvocate)

    I’m going JCO on this one. If it is JC No then you really do know yourself well.

  • http://dadofdivas.blogspot.com Dad of Divas

    I say JCO on this one as well… if it is a JC NO then I give you the Mark Twain Award for today’s great Yarn!

  • http://dadofdivas.blogspot.com Dad of Divas

    I say JCO on this one as well… if it is a JC NO then I give you the Mark Twain Award for today’s great Yarn!

  • http://dadofdivas.blogspot.com Dad of Divas

    I say JCO on this one as well… if it is a JC NO then I give you the Mark Twain Award for today’s great Yarn!

  • http://www.realmendriveminivans.com PJ Mullen

    While I spent plenty of time in my career in financial services, I never had the pleasure of working that side of the business. However, my best friend was, until recently, an annuity products wholesaler and he would relay stories. There are a many number of an egotistical and insufferable asshats in that business and I can totally see the need to mark a client as “do not answer”. So, I”m going with true. In retrospect it would have been awesome if you gave him a cool nickname that reminded you exactly who it was, but would have provided a cool cover story in the event he ever discovered it. You could have called him “rawhide” or something cool like that.

  • http://www.realmendriveminivans.com PJ Mullen

    While I spent plenty of time in my career in financial services, I never had the pleasure of working that side of the business. However, my best friend was, until recently, an annuity products wholesaler and he would relay stories. There are a many number of an egotistical and insufferable asshats in that business and I can totally see the need to mark a client as “do not answer”. So, I”m going with true. In retrospect it would have been awesome if you gave him a cool nickname that reminded you exactly who it was, but would have provided a cool cover story in the event he ever discovered it. You could have called him “rawhide” or something cool like that.

  • http://www.realmendriveminivans.com PJ Mullen

    While I spent plenty of time in my career in financial services, I never had the pleasure of working that side of the business. However, my best friend was, until recently, an annuity products wholesaler and he would relay stories. There are a many number of an egotistical and insufferable asshats in that business and I can totally see the need to mark a client as “do not answer”. So, I”m going with true. In retrospect it would have been awesome if you gave him a cool nickname that reminded you exactly who it was, but would have provided a cool cover story in the event he ever discovered it. You could have called him “rawhide” or something cool like that.

  • http://worldofweasels.blogspot.com WeaselMomma

    I say JC No.

  • http://worldofweasels.blogspot.com WeaselMomma

    I say JC No.

  • http://worldofweasels.blogspot.com WeaselMomma

    I say JC No.

  • Patrick (yeah, that one)

    It sounds JCO, up until the end when it begins wavering slightly… Dunno about that, but I’ll stick with JCO.

  • Patrick (yeah, that one)

    It sounds JCO, up until the end when it begins wavering slightly… Dunno about that, but I’ll stick with JCO.

  • Patrick (yeah, that one)

    It sounds JCO, up until the end when it begins wavering slightly… Dunno about that, but I’ll stick with JCO.

  • http://www.almightydad.com Keith Wilcox

    I don’t know, man. It’s a toss up. My first inclination is to call bullshit on everything, but you didn’t say anything that would give the story away as fiction — except maybe the gold cuff link reference because that sounds like too much detail. But, on the other hand, from reading about you this past year — it sounds completely true. So, I’m going to go with JCO. That’s my final answer! JCO.

    • http://www.johncaveosborne.com john cave osborne

      keith, i like your line of thinking. without divulging the answer, i will tell you this.

      regardless of what i’m writing — fact or fiction — i’m ALWAYS gonna throw in references like gold cufflinks and mahogany desks b/c the spirit of them is true. in other words, though it’s impossible for me to recall if my boss was actually doing that (assuming, of course, the story is true and the encounter actually went down), he was the type of man who wore cufflinks and had a nice desk, and that was more what i was trying to convey. accurately portraying him vs. the scene per se.

      and rob (my old boss), if you happen to read this one, you gotta stay mum. got that?

    • http://www.johncaveosborne.com john cave osborne

      keith, i like your line of thinking. without divulging the answer, i will tell you this.

      regardless of what i’m writing — fact or fiction — i’m ALWAYS gonna throw in references like gold cufflinks and mahogany desks b/c the spirit of them is true. in other words, though it’s impossible for me to recall if my boss was actually doing that (assuming, of course, the story is true and the encounter actually went down), he was the type of man who wore cufflinks and had a nice desk, and that was more what i was trying to convey. accurately portraying him vs. the scene per se.

      and rob (my old boss), if you happen to read this one, you gotta stay mum. got that?

  • http://www.almightydad.com Keith Wilcox

    I don’t know, man. It’s a toss up. My first inclination is to call bullshit on everything, but you didn’t say anything that would give the story away as fiction — except maybe the gold cuff link reference because that sounds like too much detail. But, on the other hand, from reading about you this past year — it sounds completely true. So, I’m going to go with JCO. That’s my final answer! JCO.

  • http://www.almightydad.com Keith Wilcox

    I don’t know, man. It’s a toss up. My first inclination is to call bullshit on everything, but you didn’t say anything that would give the story away as fiction — except maybe the gold cuff link reference because that sounds like too much detail. But, on the other hand, from reading about you this past year — it sounds completely true. So, I’m going to go with JCO. That’s my final answer! JCO.

    • http://www.johncaveosborne.com john cave osborne

      keith, i like your line of thinking. without divulging the answer, i will tell you this.

      regardless of what i’m writing — fact or fiction — i’m ALWAYS gonna throw in references like gold cufflinks and mahogany desks b/c the spirit of them is true. in other words, though it’s impossible for me to recall if my boss was actually doing that (assuming, of course, the story is true and the encounter actually went down), he was the type of man who wore cufflinks and had a nice desk, and that was more what i was trying to convey. accurately portraying him vs. the scene per se.

      and rob (my old boss), if you happen to read this one, you gotta stay mum. got that?

  • http://sahdinlansing.com Chris (@tessasdad)

    This is an excellent kick off for your series.

    Final answer: JC No

  • http://sahdinlansing.com Chris (@tessasdad)

    This is an excellent kick off for your series.

    Final answer: JC No

  • http://sahdinlansing.com Chris (@tessasdad)

    This is an excellent kick off for your series.

    Final answer: JC No

  • http://Twitter.com/andybrasfield Andy Brasfield

    Let’s talk about it over coffee. Maybe I can figure you out in person.

  • http://Twitter.com/andybrasfield Andy Brasfield

    Let’s talk about it over coffee. Maybe I can figure you out in person.

  • http://Twitter.com/andybrasfield Andy Brasfield

    Let’s talk about it over coffee. Maybe I can figure you out in person.

  • http://www.fathermuskrat.com Father Muskrat

    True. I can see you doing something like this, and I barely know you.

    I screen calls all the time–I have a virtual receptionist out of Seattle who helps me do it. It’s a necessity.

  • http://www.fathermuskrat.com Father Muskrat

    True. I can see you doing something like this, and I barely know you.

    I screen calls all the time–I have a virtual receptionist out of Seattle who helps me do it. It’s a necessity.

  • http://www.fathermuskrat.com Father Muskrat

    True. I can see you doing something like this, and I barely know you.

    I screen calls all the time–I have a virtual receptionist out of Seattle who helps me do it. It’s a necessity.

  • Wendy Eminhizer

    JC No. I think you are way too clever to let something like this happen to you.

  • Wendy Eminhizer

    JC No. I think you are way too clever to let something like this happen to you.

  • Wendy Eminhizer

    JC No. I think you are way too clever to let something like this happen to you.

  • http://the-holmes.blogspot.com Holmes

    I just really want this to be true, so I’m voting that way.

  • http://the-holmes.blogspot.com Holmes

    I just really want this to be true, so I’m voting that way.

  • http://the-holmes.blogspot.com Holmes

    I just really want this to be true, so I’m voting that way.

  • http://liayf.blogspot.com Seattledad

    Sound believable…. which makes me think it is bullshit. JC NO.

  • http://liayf.blogspot.com Seattledad

    Sound believable…. which makes me think it is bullshit. JC NO.

  • http://liayf.blogspot.com Seattledad

    Sound believable…. which makes me think it is bullshit. JC NO.

  • TAD

    Definately a JCO…

  • TAD

    Definately a JCO…

  • TAD

    Definately a JCO…

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