Ah, the joys of having a few days off work. Like any other year, 2010 seems to be passing at a fair rate of knots (jeezo, it's March next week) and it doesn't seem any time since I was off for Christmas and New Year. It has, however, been six weeks since my last break and now I have five days off work with which to recharge the batteries.
I have previously ranted on these pages about being pestered by unsolicited phone calls from people wishing to sell me anything from double glazing, to life insurance, to SKY Television to numerous mobile phones, each much better than the other. Since I joined the Telephone Preference System a few months ago, these calls have, for the most part, ceased. However, a relatively recent pattern has emerged at work - phone calls from recruitment agencies and publishing companies. And, boy, do they irritate the hell out of me.
It usually happens when the company I work for advertises a vacancy in the local press. No sooner does the paper hit the news stands than every Tom, Dick and Harry - although it's usually Dick - is on the telephone.
Good morning, Mr Smith, how are you today?
This immediately places me on Agency Alert. I work in the Human Resources profession (some might say work is stretching things but that's another matter) so when someone is being nice it usually means they want something in return.
You may remember we spoke a few weeks ago regarding your vacancies and I just wanted to touch base with you about how things are going.
Two things here. Firstly, it's damn near certain this person didn't speak to me before but their ruse is clearly to get me believing they did. Initially, I fell for this trick but now I'm getting streetwise. Secondly, what the hell is this 'touch base' nonsense? I'll tell you what it is (he said, answering his own question) It's another example of the Americanisation of this country. Now, I mean no offence to June from Seattle and her fellow Americans such as Joanna who regularly visit my blog. But 'touch base' is a sports term used in the United States isn't it? Somehow it's wormed its way into everyday vocabulary in this country and it really - no, really - annoys me. I much prefer 'I just wanted to catch up with you' as this implies I'm running away from them - which I am doing...
My attempts to abort the call don't usually work as the parting shot is 'I'll call you again in a month or so just to see how you're doing' Well, I'm telling you now that things are pretty shit and I can only see more of the brown stuff a month from now.
The other major irritants are those who sell advertising space in newspapers. You can guarantee that as soon as we advertise in one local paper people from ten others will be straight on the phone.
I saw your advert in today's edition of The Scotsman. I thought I would give you a courtesy call (an oxymoron if ever there was one) to let you know one of our advertisers has pulled out from using our paper so we have space available to publish your vacancy for a cut down price of (insert any figure from £100 upwards here)
This is just tosh. It wouldn't be so bad if they just phoned and asked do you want to advertise in our rag. But it's the blatant lie about space suddenly becoming available that irks me and, I suspect, many others.
So for the next few days I won't be 'touching base' with anyone. And when I return to work next week, I still won't be...