everybody hates Chelsea

MM.com friend and contributor, Chelsea Lowe, recently delivered a short commentary on NPRs Morning Edition. (If you scroll back a few days, Ive got a link to the archived show.) Her essay, which came in at about two and a half minutes in length, was on the subject of telemarketing. Specifically, Chelsea, a former telemarketer herself, was suggesting that people at least be cordial when they find themselves on the receiving end of such a call.

I heard the piece and liked it. It wasnt the usual, I hate telemarketers and heres how I fuck with them, kind of story that were used to. (And, which I admittedly also enjoy on occasion.) Her story offered a look into the call center where ordinary people like you and me are just trying to do their jobs. In the process of doing this, she also warns that telemarketers, when treated poorly, plot revenge on those of us on the outside that give them grief. (Chelsea herself admits to having written down the names and numbers of those individuals who were the rudest to her. She admits to having considered after-hours retaliation, but says she never gave in to the urge.)

Well, in the hours since the broadcast, Chelsea has been overwhelmed with hate mail, some of it coming to her directly, but most of it funneled to her through the folks at National Public Radio.

Shes shared some of the hate mail with Linette and me (about 25 letters so far), and shes agreed to let me shared some of it with you. Its pretty insane stuff. People, apparently never having had a real, live telemarketer to lash out at, really unload lots of stuff on her. Its as though theyve projected every bad experience theyve ever had over a telephone onto her.

The NPR switchboards apparently lit up with hate mail after the show. (You would have thought that she did something truly terrible, like lie to the American people in order to take our country into war or something.)

OK, some of the criticism is justified. Most of us hate getting telemarketing calls. Most of us feel as though unsolicited calls are a violation of our personal space. We dont like it. We especially dont like knowing that the people on the other end of the phone line might be in a position to jot down our personal information for the purposes of revenge. That just doesnt sit right. When you add to that the fact that the folks at NPR edited Chelseas piece to leave out the fact that she was telemarketing for a non-profit, and that she was only calling members of that non-profit who had themselves agreed to be contacted, listeners just assumed the worst about her.

So, here are just a few clips (I personally take a great deal of pleasure in imagining the good NPR listeners out there being riled up enough to write the likes of this stuff. These are probably the same people driving around with visualize world peace bumper stickers.)

-I found the remarks this woman made ‘quite chilling’ as you say on NPR. The idea that each one of the people calling me during dinner is a potential sensitive little psychopath ready to write my name and address down if I dare to indicate in some way that their sales pitch is less important than what I may have been discussing with my family is a little frightening. Who does she think she is?

-With regards to Ms. Chelsea Lowe’s comments about the “hardships” of being a telemarketer, all I can say is Oh, boo hoo hoo!!! I feel your pain. NOT!

-Ms. Lowe, you say that you were treated rudely over the phone several times, so what!

-The piece by “commentator” and former telemarketer Chelsea Lowe made me want to hurl. She complains of mistreatment by her victims and pleads for courteous treatment. What has she done to deserve courtesy? In her ten years as a telemarketer, Ms. Lowe committed millions of acts of deliberate rudeness. Why should she expect anything better in return? No one with a vestige of human sympathy or decency would be capable of doing what she did for a living for ten years. She deserves worse than she got.

-Chelsea Lowe’s petulent, disingenuous “commentary” on the poor victimized telemarketer misses its mark badly. It scarcely moves me to tears or sympathy because it so myopically distorts what actually happens when these downtrodden telemarketers invade our homes and our lives like the talking billboards that they are.

-Here’s a tip, Chelsea: if your friends in the industry would just BE QUIET long enough to hear us say we’re not interested, instead of doing the verbal, phone equivalent of sticking their foot in the door so we cannot shut it, you might not get hung up on or, worse, yelled at. But since you refuse to stop talking we have no choice but to put the phone down and let you chatter excitedly all night, or to hang up.

-Are you crazy? Or is she; someone who feels that an unsolicited assault on our homes should be met with kindness, understanding and humor. You bet. Just let me arrange my cross and crown of thorns.

-This woman, who spent ten years invading the privacy of unwilling souls, which makes her a major sadist to my way of thinking, has the nerve to smugly pontificate about “meanies” who respond to a rude incursion with exactly the energetic response this unacceptable situation called calls for. She felt bad. She felt put upon. In this little drama, was she an enslaved person? Indentured perhaps? Maybe she just enjoys bothering people. She is certainly at it again. And you presented her a fine forum. I guess she’s pretty good at selling the unsaleable. Must be that fine telemarketing training. All behavior is not morally equivalent.

-Consider: On page 201 of Miss Manners’ Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, author Judith Martin says: “…it is not polite to burst into someone’s house uninvited, by telephone or in person, for social or commercial reasons.”

Some occupations are not worthy of respect, regardless of how poor the job market is. Telemarketing is one of them. By choosing to work for a telemarketer, you join the ranks of the most intensely disliked people on the planet.

-I could not believe what I was hearing on this morning’s commentary by Chelsea Lowe. She or some other telemarketer calls me around dinner time when the only reason I am even answering the phone is to talk to my pediatrician about my child’s fever who is screaming in the background and then is upset because I abruptly end the conversation. She takes names, numbers and addresses? Now I not only have to deal with phone interruptions but ward off stalking telemarketers seeking revenge. Apparently this new “do not call” list has come just in time.

-Certain jobs are morally unacceptable despite people needing work. That someone needs a job is a poor excuse

-I’m shocked and dismayed that NPR is giving air-time to the whining and crying of an ex-telemarketer. Ms. Chelsea Lowe presumably made a living whilst being a telemarketer, and doesn’t deserve a nationally broadcast soap-box from which to moan about how badly people treated her. I’m appalled that Morning Edition decided to air this crap. Perhaps NPR will soon give pimply McDonald’s Drive-Thru employees a chance to whine about how rude their customers are, or a chance to issue veiled threats that they are taking down licence-plate numbers of the meanies they deal with? Or give a snotty Maitre D’ the chance to share with the nation the perils of seating people who wear too much cologne? Come on, NPR, I expect better.

-If that nasty little creature is keeping a list of those who hang up, she should know that dont call me again means dont call me again and is obligated to put that number on a do not call list, not on a harass list.

-Why defend the indefensible behavior of this pest?

-Ms. Chelsea Lowe and her fellow telemarketers deserve no sympathy. And plotting revenge upon those who do not suffer the wrongs of unrelenting telemarketer harassment with what she feels is appropriate poise and politeness is illustrative only of the willful ignorance, slovenly ethics, and gross insensitivity of those who their earn their pay by routinely forcing their unwelcome way into the private moments of our households, heedless and mindless of their victims’ concerns.

-Ms. Lowe’s complaint is interesting, but at ten years ending recently, she must have held her job of harassing people throughout the boom years of the 90’s, when finding some other low-end minimum wage moron job would have been just as easy as falling off a log.

-I would remind Ms. Lowe that if people ever mistreated her on the telephone, it was her own (and other telemarketers’) rudeness in invading their time and attention that prompted their rude response. She deserved it.

I dont know if she intended it as such, but I think this is great art. Ive tried to make un-listenable noise in the past in hopes of illiciting such a visceral response and I never came close. I love that she could come out with a campaign of Be Nice to Telemarketers and be descended upon as though she was advocating the murder of the retarded. She essentially asked people to be considerate and this is the response she got back. (And her piece only lasted a little over two minutes!)

The best part is that all these people wrote to either Chelsea or NPR by way of e-mail and that she now has their names and addresses. Apparently, none of them thought of that…. Let’s hope she doesn’t decide to use them.

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