So today I'm asleep in bed with the worst migraine I've had in a year and a swollen foot I've been told to keep off and the phone rings. Because I'm asleep and doped with painkillers I'm out of bed hobbling towards the phone before I think about it. Almost there and the answering machine clicks in. Good. I hobble on. The answering machine message is almost finished and as I reach out to pick up the phone - the caller hangs up. This happens regularly - and invariably makes me angry. I assume it's someone trying to sell me something or a charity because everyone else (whether it's personal or business) has the courtesy to leave a message. Yes, I understand that the caller, who thinks the fact that I have my number listed in the telephone directory means I'm inviting calls, does not know whether I'm ill, disabled, hanging out the washing, bathing the baby or in the garden. What infuriates me is that having interrupted my life - and the same applies to everyone else they ring - they then do not have the decency to acknowledge that they have done this by a courteous "Sorry to have troubled you."
Then there are the pests who forward dial so you answer the phone to no response and when or if they eventually deign to speak to you do not apologise for this rudeness. Instead they ask cheerily "How are you today?" and even these are not as annoying as the dinner time callers. Can't they - or their employers - look at a clock?
We've put our number down on the Government's Do Not Ring Register now and considered going ex directory although even that doesn't seem to stop automated dialing according to friends who have private numbers.
The solution often suggested is to evolve strategies to irritate them as much as they irritate us but I'd feel guilty about doing that because the blame really can't be laid on the actual callers. They are simply earning a living, usually with a prescribed spiel, while those ultimately responsible for the invasion of our privacy, their employers, are unfortunately far too clever to get caught actually communicating with those whose lives they make miserable.