An Apology to Salespeople


On Friday I finished writing a novel. The satisfaction that comes from writing the words THE END at the conclusion of a major project can only be compared to the climax of a well-earned and cataclysmic orgasm. But, while I was working on this story, I have to admit I was rather offhand with a small number of salespeople. This is my official letter of apology to those people I offended.

The first call came a week into writing the novel. This is roughly how the conversation went.


ME: Hello?

SP: Mr Lister?

ME: Yes?

SP: My name is Twat. [This wasn’t his real name, I made that up so as not to embarrass the salesperson if he’s reading this.] I see you recently had an insurance policy with us for your household plumbing.

ME: Did I?

SP: I’m calling to give you the chance to cash in on a special offer we have at the moment to provide you with pest insurance…

ME: No thank you.

SP: …our pest insurance policy provides a superior level of cover and…

ME: No thank you.

SP: Very well, Mr Lister. But may I ask, if you’re troubled by pests in the very near future, how are you going to deal with that problem?

ME: Well, first, I’ll pick up the telephone and see what they’re trying to sell me…

This was the point where the salesperson hung up.

Now, I have to admit this wasn’t particularly nice of me. Salespeople have jobs to do, just like the rest of us. Admittedly, this one had interrupted my job, and wouldn’t accept my polite “No thank you,” the first time. But I have heard that salespeople are trained to be forceful so I can’t blame the individual: only the hard sell ethic.

So, if the salesperson on the other end of that exchange is reading this, I’d genuinely like to say, “I’m sorry, Twat.”

The following is a transcript of a telephone call I received during the second week of writing the novel. Again, please don’t think I’m proud of my actions. I’m only reiterating these conversations so I can properly atone for my sins.


SP: Hello, Mr Lister. My name is Bastard. [Once again, this wasn’t his real name. I also made this one up so as not to embarrass the salesperson if he’s reading this.] Our company currently have a special offer on mobile phones…

ME: Mobile phones give you ear cancer [NB – I don’t really think this is true but it felt like the right thing to say to a salesperson trying to sell me a mobile phone].

SP: No, Mr Lister. Mobile phones don’t give you ear cancer. Especially not ours. We’re promoting the latest…


This was the point where the salesperson hung up.

Again, this was reprehensible behaviour on my part and my only excuse is: I was busy writing and didn’t want to suffer the interruption.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I do believe, if I wanted insurance or a mobile phone, I would go to an appropriate shop, or check things out online (most likely through ERWA’s Amazon link). I wouldn’t sit waiting by my telephone, pretending to write a novel, and hoping a salesperson would call me up to tell me about their company’s latest special offer.

But I’m trying to make a public apology here, so, if the salesperson on the other end of aforementioned exchange is reading this, I’d genuinely like to say, “I’m sorry, Bastard.”

The following conversation is from the third week of my working on the novel.

I should point out that I had tried to be patient with this caller and the transcript starts ten minutes into my exchange with a salesperson I’ve chosen to think of as Shithead. I’d said, “No thank you,” approximately a dozen times by this point and had started to simply say NO in a variety of strange and peculiar accents.

SP: …we have an extensive list of stationery…

ME: [Irish accent.] No, begorah.

SP: …and we’re able to supply all brands of printer cartridge….

ME: [Jamaican Accent.] No tank yoo, mon.

SP: …as well as our own generic brands, We have…

ME: [Sounding like Commander Chekhov from Star Trek.] No, Cap’n. Nuclear wessels.

SP: …various quantities and qualities of printer paper as well as…

ME: [Returning to my regular voice.] Could I have your fax number please?

SP: Do you want to fax your order through?

ME: No. I don’t want to fax an order through. I want to send a fax to you with the word NO in big black letters, to see if you finally get the fucking message.

This was the point where the salesperson hung up.

I’ve said it before, this time I mean it sincerely: I’m sorry, Shithead.

The thing is, I’ve not really got anything against sales people. I’m quite comfortable with them as long as they’re not interrupting my work and trying to sell something to me. I don’t think I’m unique or particularly special. (Well, I suppose I do think I’m unique and particularly special, but not in a conceited way). But, as I’ve said before, we all have jobs to do and I should be more tolerant of that fact. I should keep reminding myself that salespeople are no different to other people who have difficult and demanding jobs to do, such as drug dealers, pimps and gangsters.

The following, final exchange, occurred on the day before I finished writing the novel. This one was between me and a salesperson I shall call Wanker.


SP: Hello Mr Lister, and how are you today?

ME: Sick to death of phone calls from salesmen. How are you?

This was the point where the salesperson hung up.

Even if all of the above comes across as though I’m still being rude about salespeople, I would like to assure any readers that my intentions are entirely honourable. I sincerely want to say, “I’m so sorry,” to all the Twats, Bastards, Shitheads and Wankers who work as salespeople. In fact, on reflection, I don’t think I can tell you just how sorry I am.

Ashley Lister
October 2007

“Ashley Lister Submits” © 2006 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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