Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Messing With Telemarketers

or “My Daddy-in-law makes salmon!”

salmon-atlanticIf you’ve read PopCult for any length of time you know that I have a serious dislike for, and an unusual tendency to attract, telemarketers. I get at least a couple of calls a day. I get so many illegal, unsolicited telemarketing calls that I’ve worn out a couple of air horns on them.

In truth, the phone companies love these telemarketers. If it weren’t for them, the vast majority of people who pay fifteen bucks a month for Caller ID would dump that service and save their money. Phone companies will never do anything to stop annoying robocalls or illegal telemarketers. Cell phone service providers actually charge you for getting these calls.

telemarketingLately I’ve changed my tactics. See, if they’re going to interrupt my train of thought and annoy me, I’ve decided to see how well I can disrupt and confuse them. Now when they call me, I hit the required number to speak to whomever it is on the other end waiting to harvest my credit card numbers, and I say to them, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.” I do this in my best dumb, Southern guy voice.

Rick (with Carl) from "The Walking Dead"

Rick (with Carl) from “The Walking Dead”

As an aside, the origin of this phrase goes back to the TV show, “The Walking Dead.”

Early in the most recent season, I noticed that the character, Rick, in each episode in which he appears, utters the word, “Hey” at least five to twenty times.

At one point he did this twice in a row, and I turned to Melanie and said, “Hey! My daddy-in-law makes salmon!” spoken in my best impression of Rick.

Mel’s face was overcome with a look of sheer confusion, tempered with amusement, but mostly confusion. Finally, after a couple of minutes, she realized what I was talking about.

"My daddy-in-law makes salmon"

“My daddy-in-law makes salmon”

Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays Rick on “The Walking Dead,” is, in real life, the son-in-law of Jethro Tull frontman, Ian Anderson, who, for many years, owned several salmon farms.

After that, every time Rick says “Hey” on “The Walking Dead” I will quickly follow that with “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.” This is as close to a drinking game as this non-drinker gets.

It’s silly, pointless, harmless and most importantly, it only makes sense if you’re in on the joke. It’s one of my trademark “going a really long, long ways to make a really lame joke” jokes. Coming from anyone else, in any other situation, it is a confounding, intriguing and amusing non-sequitor.

Which makes it the perfect thing to say to telemarketers. It’s way better than cursing at them or lecturing them on the Do Not Call list. At worst, it’s simply a new version of prank-calling, where you’re pulling the prank on people who call you. So it’s benign, but it still takes up their time and maybe keeps them from pestering other people.

Screaming at them doesn't work

Screaming at them doesn’t work

I’m of two minds when it comes to the people who have to man the phones for these obviously criminal operations.

On one hand you have to feel sorry for these poor folks in this hideous job market who have to take this really crappy job because maybe they couldn’t cut it in a more ethical profession, like dealing drugs to schoolkids or being a prostitute.

fITzU6OOn the other hand, if I had a button on my phone that would explode the head of the person on the other end of the line, like in the movie “Scanners,” I would probably have worn it out by now.

So after a few weeks of cracking up Mel with “My daddy-in-law makes salmon,” I decided to try it on a telemarketer. I got one of those “WARNING THIS IS YOU LAST CHANCE TO LOWER YOUR INTEREST RATE” calls and hit the number to speak to an operator, and when they picked up, I simply said, in my now-exaggerrated impression of Rick, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.”

It confused the holy hell out the guy. He asked me to repeat it three times. He then asked me to elaborate, and without breaking character, I did.

“My daddy-in-law got a farm. He makes salmon.”

Possibly thinking that he had a mentally-impaired person on the line, the operator asked if my daddy-in-law had any credit cards.

“He used ta, but the damn salmon ate ’em. Would you like to sing the salmon song with me?”

After wasting five minutes of this guy’s time, he finally hung up, which was a good thing because I couldn’t have gone much longer without laughing.

So now, whenever I get a telemarketing call, all of which come from criminal scum, by the way, I hit the buttons to speak to a representative, and say, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.”

As seenin this archive photoe, he really does make salmon

As seen in this archive photo, he really does make salmon

Sometimes they hang up immediately. Most times they ask me to repeat it several times. Many times they are intrigued and will speak to me for several minutes. I’ve already been interrupted. My train of thought has already been destroyed. Why not indulge in a little improv phone comedy for an audience of one?

It’s kinder than simply heaping abuse on these poor souls (who are probably doomed to eternal hellfire for doing this job anyway), and it may even brighten their day a little and give them something to talk about when they’re around the boiler room water cooler.

What my real hope, and the reason for this essay, is that I think it would be really, really funny if a lot of people started doing this. Instead of hanging up on the criminal robo-callers, hit the button to speak to an operator, and say, in your best dumb-guy voice, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.” Maybe this essay could go viral, and we could start a world-wide movement.

Imagine if this became a standard response to telemarketers. Think what their lives would be like if, every other person who asked to speak to them said, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.”

Eventually, they would come to hate it. The very words would wound their soul. They would know that their time has just been wasted. And you’d be doing it without being mean or abusive. It would drive them nuts.

Which would serve them right for violating the Do Not Call list and bugging the hell out of people. Until the government does the right thing and outlaws ALL robocalls (including non-profits and politicians) this is the best way to fight annoying fire with annoying fire.

These operators might become haunted by the phrase. They might start to hear it in their sleep. Some of them might find that it messes with their mind so much that they quit this job and find a less demeaning profession, like shoe-licking or bunny fluffing.

And then there would be fewer operators, and maybe that would lead to fewer unsolicited phone calls. And the world would be a better place.

All because, “My daddy-in-law makes salmon.”

1 Comment

  1. Jeff Frame

    I smoked a salmon once. After sex of course.

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