Friday, July 03, 2009

When the Phone Rings ...

Frankly, I do not quite like to use the telephone for the simple reason that I am not sure whether my call is convenient for the recipient.

I grew up where there was no phone even in the home. To make phone calls, I had to go to a public phone booth or the friendly grocery shop where I would pay ten cents for one call.

I learnt two harsh lessons where phone calls are concerned. I remember once I had to call a friend to wake her up so as to ensure that she would be punctual. We were supposed to do some quick revision together before an exam at the University of Alberta.

"Can I speak to Carmen please?, said I, at 5 o'clock in the early morning.

"Why the hell do you call so early?" roared a voice, and to my shock, the phone was slammed down with great vehemence.

A few minutes later, Carmen called me, almost whispering, "Sorry, Choo, that was my dad. Heard him barking at you.....he must have had a bad time at the hospital. You see, papa is an anaesthetist, a very stressful job."

Till today, I freeze whenever someone tells me to call him early in the morning!

On another occasion, I called my buddy, Tony, to check some notes with him. It was 2a.m. but it was usual for us, Malaysian students, to study into the wee hours of the morning.

"Who the hell is Tony!" roared the voice at the other end.

I quickly put the phone down, my heartbeat going faster than normal. Gosh! I must have dialed the wrong number and have woken up a very sleepy man.

Now that I am in Singapore, I note that property agents are fond of making calls between 600p.m. to 8.00p.m. which I think is an unearthly time! Some people are driving on their way home, and some parents are hugging their kids at home or having dinner with family and guests. I understand that most telemarketers would come in to work part time for a couple of hours and they check in after their full time work. While it is convenient for them, it is certainly not convenient for potential clients. If we hope to get the favour of these clients to market their homes, isn't it most vital to catch them at a more conducive time, say, after dinner between 8.30p.m. to 9.30p.m.?

Frankly I dislike using mobile phones. I have to use my right ear and I am told it is not good, but my left ear seems to be somewhat hard of hearing. My Korean friend, Siew Yin, once told me she could not stand phones, and wondered at the life of an agent when she heard my phone ringing almost endlessly. What to do? Bo pian....can't be helped. The phone rings sometimes when I enter the washroom, when I am showering or when I am practising my violin or when I am in a toastmasters' meeting. It cries for attention almost the whole day long. Perhaps when I become a CEO like Warren Buffet, I can afford not to carry a hand phone and just remind my staff, "Rule No. 1. Take care of share holders' money. Rule No. 2. Remember Rule No. 1".

Until that day arrives, let me smile and speak in my sweetest voice and most polite of phone manners. For if the phone never rings.....a property agent also goes bankrupt!

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