We’re all immigrants, or will be

When you live in a culture you didn’t grow up in—

No, forget you, because we both know I’m talking about me. So let’s try that again:

Because I live in a culture I didn’t grow up in, I’m forever stubbing my toe on cultural differences. Is that last meal of the day—to give you an unimportant example—dinner or supper? If I invite a friend over for dinner (I usually say “supper,” but who knows, I might try to go all British and accidentally use the more ambiguous “dinner”), will she show up at noon when I didn’t plan to start cooking until five?

Irrelevant photo: Frost on the what's-it-called.

Irrelevant photo: Frost on the what’s-it-called.

M. came over for whatever that meal’s called recently—showing up just when I thought she would—and as I set the table my mind wandered off into an extended meditation on the intercultural use of spoons. It’s another of those silly differences. Americans will set the table with a fork, a knife, and a small spoon, but the British will add a big honkin’ soup spoon if they plan to pull dessert out of a hat, a cupboard, or a refrigerator at the end of the meal. Because that’s what they’ll eat it with.

At our house, sorry, you don’t get two spoons.  I learned to set a table the American way, and the younger you learn a thing the more some irrational and very powerful part of you is convinced that it’s right.

And by you, as we all know by now, I mean me, because I’d feel roughly as comfortable setting out two spoons as I would wearing a tutu.

For the record, I don’t own and have never worn a tutu. I do have both size spoons, though, so I debated which ones to use. A small spoon’s good for stirring milk into tea, and M. takes her tea with milk. When I make a pot, I pour the milk in before the tea so it doesn’t need stirring, but it was evening and Wild Thing and I would want herb tea (ah, we get wilder every year), so I’d make M’s in the cup, meaning I couldn’t add the milk first. All that weighed on the side of small spoons.

On the other side of the balance, she could stir her tea with a big spoon and then use if for dessert and feel right at home if a little barbaric. For that matter, she could stir her tea with the handle of her knife. Or her thumb if the mood took her. She’s family. It wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.

I put out small spoons. Some of us stirred our tea with them and some of us left them on the table, American style, because I’m not going to pretend that the American way of setting the table makes more sense than the British way. We put out small spoons because we put out small spoons, not necessarily because anyone will use them. What matters is that the spoons are available.

On such moments are entire cultures balanced.

We used forks for dessert—those of us who didn’t use our fingers. It was American coffee cake, which isn’t one of those things that demand a fork. The fork’s so we can show each other that we’re housebroken.

It was all, I’m sure, a very unBritish meal.

End of example and a chance to move on to my real point, which is that British/American cultural differences aren’t the only kind I stumble over, so let’s move on to a new example:

I’ve been gathering a information on U.K. publishers recently. I published a political satire, Open Line, back in the U.S. in 2008. It’s about alternative facts and fake news, although it doesn’t use either phrase, and it’s become sadly relevant recently, so I’m looking around for a U.K. publisher that might want the British rights. My U.S. publisher’s all for it and that’s as much help as they plan to give me. Index cards struck me as the best way to organize what was quickly becoming a mess.

Now, you have to be over a certain age to know what index cards look like, never mind to understand what they’re for or why they seemed like a better idea than putting it all on the computer. I’m not sure what that age is, but you’ll know which side you’re on and we can all do some guesswork from there.

Our nearby town has a stationery store and right beside it an almost-stationery store, which sells newspapers and lots of toys as well as gum and some school supplies. The stationery store, I was pretty sure, would have index cards, but I got there on a Saturday afternoon and it was closed. That’s a British thing, the half day on Saturday. Not all stores observe it, but when one does I shouldn’t be surprised.

I both was and wasn’t. Cultural differences and all that. If you—and by you of course I mean I; or me, but let’s not get into that because it’s a grammatical rat’s nest—don’t plan for these cultural differences, you stub your toe and swear a bit, then you move on. My feet have thick callouses by now. I went next door.

The store had been reorganized since my last visit, so nothing was where I remembered it. I could have wandered around looking for the stationery section but it would have meant spending time with My Little Pony and Bob the Builder and I couldn’t face either of them just then. Instead, I found the cash register, which would be called the till (I think). Two young women looked up with that bright-eyed, can-I-help-you face people make, and I was struck by how immensely young they were. So young that I thought, No, you probably can’t, but I asked anyway: “I don’t suppose you have index cards, do you?”

And by you, I meant you. Which is grammatically less complicated than the I/me snarl.

One of them turned to the other, looking blank and quietly panicked.

“It’s a generational thing,” I said, meaning it’s a cultural difference and there was no reason she’d know what I was talking about.

The second clerk asked if they weren’t those dividers—.

“Not the dividers,” I said. “The things they divide.” Because it made a skewed kind of sense to me that they’d know about index card dividers but not the cards themselves. Why? Because I had a pack of alphabetical dividers at home, which proved to me that they still existed. The cards I wasn’t so sure about.

No, you didn’t miss anything. That set of connections is at least as irrational as the business about the spoons.

The second clerk showed me where the dividers lived. They were the size of a notebook and not at all what I wanted, but they were near something vaguely related to index cards and I figured they were the closest thing I’d find on a Saturday afternoon, so I bought them.

Which brings me to my point: Cultural differences exist between all kinds of groups, not just immigrants and the native born or majority populations and minority groups. Anyone who thinks immigrants or minority groups should just shut up and adapt to every twitch and wriggle of their new country or of the majority, think about your grandmother. Or your great-grandmother. Or yourself if you’re old enough. Because if we live long enough, we all become immigrants to a world we didn’t grow up in. We adapt to some parts of it and not to others. Humans are like that. Some deep part of our selves insists that this will all make more sense on index cards than on the computer, even though she/you/I know(s) perfectly well how to work the computer. Or looks at the soup spoons and thinks, That’s a ridiculous thing to eat dessert with and I’m not setting it on the table.

No, it’s not exactly the same, but maybe it’s enough to make us stop and think.

Welcome to diversity. It’s more diverse than you think.


And, although it has no connection with that, I’d like to report that Britain is suffering from a plague of automated phone calls. Some are annoying but confirm medical appointments, so we put up with them because we don’t want our appointments canceled. And by we I mean every ragged one of us.

Others, though—.

Today (and by today I mean the day I wrote this, which as I edit it has already slipped away) I’ve had five automated calls that start, “This is an urgent announcement…”

I hang up at that point, so I haven’t figured out what the scam is, I just know there is one.

Two came when I was cooking and my hands were oily and Wild Thing wasn’t able to answer the phone so I had to pick it up, slathering oil as I went, in case it was someone real. One came when I was ready to stuff the phone down the next caller’s throat, because the last two had been an urgent announcement.

The next call, which I almost answered by saying, “This is an urgent announcement,” was not only someone real, it was someone I don’t know well enough to pull that sort of stunt on. I was glad that good sense had gotten the better of me, however briefly.

We’ve been getting these calls for months, along with a series that start, “Boiler replace for free.” They also arrive in herds.

Wild Thing registered recently for something that promised to track unwanted calls. It did not promise to get rid of them and so far it’s kept that promise.

I’m not sure who thinks it’s a good investment to pay some company to make these calls. By my calculations, they’d cover Wales in urgency to a depth of six inches if we could only round them up. Calculating that slightly differently, I can also report that they’ve called every landline in Britain 74 times by now.

Does anyone who didn’t take the bait the first time take it on the 73rd?

80 thoughts on “We’re all immigrants, or will be

  1. Your usual entertaining work, Ellen. You are so right about our home-grown sub-cultural differences. I have 2 responses to those phone calls. If I’m in the mood I spin them along and eventually reveal that I know what they are up to; If not I simply use a popular two word phrase.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Talk about cultural differences and diversity, I moved just 80 miles from Devon to Cornwall and had to literally turn my cream tea arrangements on their head.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oh, man, that is upsetting. Yesterday I exchanged a couple of emails that ended with us trying to arrange a time to meet on opposite banks of the Tamar and throw pasties at each other, but it all broke down over a disagreement over whether they should be Devon or Cornish pasties.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Lovely piece. I started off by thinking of my Frankfurt-born grandmother who, when she described social manners she disapproved of, would say, “For that, I am not long enough in this country”. I was usually about things like table settings or the social kiss of greeting.
    Then I thought about the nursing home where my mother ended her days. Each room had a telephone but few of the ladies could use them because they had push buttons instead of a dial that went round. My mother, younger and undemented, was fine with the phones though she hated the place, all full of the properly English, proper bourgeoisie. When I visited it seemed that every few minutes a neatly coiffed, blue rinsed, lady in a nice cardigan, would come in to ask for help with the telephone.
    We are all immigrants in the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mother–who didn’t take to technology with any grace, even when she was younger–never mastered the bank machine. I’d talk her through it, hand her her money, see the panicked look on her face, and think, “Why did I just do that?”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I always look forward to your amusing articles. I have lived in many different countries and although these cultural difference can seem problematic at the time – they are always looked back at with fondness. My 21 year-old daughter still uses index cards because I taught her the value of them! Don’t let us change you too much – be you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never stopped to think, but of course–what would you put in one these days? The three-ring binder was the bane of my school days. There were only two types of kids, those whose notebooks were neat and me, whose pages were torn and reinforced and torn again. I don’t think I’ll mourn their passing.

      Now index cards….


      • The three ring binder is a US thing of course, as I often found to my frustration when I worked as a computer programmer and wanted to add some notes of my own to the software manual produced by an American computer company in a three ring binder. My note pad was of course A4 size – taller than the US Letter size of the manual. And the only paper punches I had access to were European two or four hole size – not a three hole punch in sight!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mmm hmm. And it never occurred to whoever put those together that the rest of the world didn’t have exactly the same arrangements as the U.S. did. There’s a story about an American car company trying to market cars in Japan without stopping to find out that they drive on the left. I’m not sure it’s true, but it does capture the flavor.


          • It works both ways of course. Quite a few years ago a salesman in a (UK) software company I worked for told me that it was pointless to give out A4 size promotional brochures at trade exhibitions in the US, no matter how well-produced and eye-catching they were. The reason? Well, American company execs and senior managers have bookshelves in their offices that are designed to take US Letter sized documents. A4 documents are just that bit too tall to fit vertically in the shelf space without bending them over at the top. And no self-respecting manager wants a messy looking bookshelf in their office. So the A4 brochures end up in the bin, probably without being read at all.

            Now I don’t know how true that is, but when I worked as a technical writer for a UK software company that sold a lot to the US, I made sure all our printable technical docs were produced in US Letter format – they’d print ok on A4 paper, but A4 format docs definitely don’t print properly on US Letter size paper!

            Liked by 1 person

            • And by important differences like that is the future of the world decided.

              Producing the docs in 8 1/2 x 11 size was a good idea, but my best guess is that if the A4 brochures got thrown out without being read because they were the wrong size, the stuff that ended up on the shelf probably went there without being read either. And sat there until hell had ice skating competitions.


  5. One of my earlier, and less pleasant, memories is of a knock-out, drag-out fight (and by knock-out, drag-out I mean intoned with mounting levels of acrimony and anger yet exquisitely polite on the surface) between my father and my maternal grandmother over which was the -proper- way to hold a knife and fork while cutting and eating meat: the American way, or the European way. Which seems nonsensical, considering that neither one was an immigrant from Europe and also JUST FORKS, for crying out loud. And also totally sensible, considering that of course this wasn’t about forks but about who had more right to tell my mother what to do.

    Good times.

    (I do love the random non-randomness of your more rambling posts, Ellen! Your mind must be a fascinating place to live.)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The meal at the end of the day is tea if you are northern or if you are going out it isn’t dinner…
    supper happens later just before bed and is normally biscuits
    Dinner is all lunch as in school dinners but really that is lunch as in packed lunch…
    Don’t quote me on any of this as I have lived all around the country so am a little mixed up…
    My point is… there is no consensus of opinion across all the people who were brought up here so there is no hope for those that weren’t…
    Also… I eat my dessert with a teaspoon the others are too big…
    But when I set the table I set it with a dessert spoon and a fork at the top for pudding then I get my self a different one and ignore them…

    Thirdly… American coffee cake confused me a lot when I was in America… it doesn’t taste of coffee…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ha! As wife of a dual citizen/immigrant this made me smile. He wrote a book years ago (never published) for perplexed US visitors who foolishly think we have a common language/culture.
    Spoons … We Brits have, in descending size order, tablespoon, dessert spoon, tea spoon – these are all oval in shape and measures not just functional names – so a rounded dessert spoon of caster sugar, for example, is approximately one ounce as is a heaped tablespoon of flour. Soup spoons are round and for … soup. Oddities like apostle spoons… OK, enough spooning. Ha ha.
    Dessert is a no-no term to those who hold fast to u and non-u speak – pudding is dessert, dessert is pudding. I just can’t say dessert – won’t issue forth from my mouth. Upbringing eh? And both home and school made us slaves to the rule that you always give people a fork and a (dessert) spoon with puddings – so you can push the food around. With something stodgy like rhubarb pie and custard a teaspoon and fingers really aren’t up to it.
    As for tea – is it actually dinner? Or afternoon tea? Is high tea afternoon tea or tea/dinner tea? Supper at nine, or dinner at 7 – or noon? … fun, eh?
    As you so brilliantly point out – we are all immigrants in some ways, some where, or find ourselves so as time passes us by.
    One final thought – leaving the knife and fork agape on the plate = not finished yet to you or not?
    Great post and thought provoking, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great information, which I won’t be able to remember ten minutes from now although it amuses the hell out of me right now. Except for the apostle spoon. I’ll remember that for its sheer mystery, and because remembering it will be of no use at all.

      Living inside my brain is enough to make me nuts sometimes.

      I like the idea that how you set your fork and knife down signals whether you’re done, but it’s one of those signals I have to resign myself to not being able to read, since again I’m unlikely to remember which means what. Or, under pressure of trying to behave well, that anything means anything. I don’t know if other Americans would read the signal–I suspect not, but I may just be tone deaf. Or manners impaired.


  8. If I were you I wouldn’t bother even trying to get three ring binders in England. They come with two rings here, sometimes four, but never three. University students are encouraged to use index cards for revision purposes, according to my nephew (21), so you probably need to go to your nearest university town.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I always enjoy reading your views/experiences/questions/thoughts, but today’s post (today being the day I am reading it) was particularly timely. I just came from a meeting where the subject was technology adoption, and why some people are more willing to take advantage of technology than others, and why some, to use your analogy, are immigrants in a strange and uncaring land and don’t care to learn what spoon to use. Oh well, it was an enjoyable read as I sipped my coffee and ate my donut with my fingers. Which makes me wonder, how do you spell the thing I’m referring to as a donut?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had to google that and found, “The official dictionary spelling of the word is doughnut with donut generally being listed as a variant of the preferred original spelling. Doughnut is the original spelling of the word, coming onto the scene in the early 1800s.” So I’m guessing either one but someone will get sniffy about donut and say it’s an Americanism.

      That’s always a criticism, by the way, although I choose to hear it as a simple description. I get up the nose of a certain category of snob around here and thoroughly enjoy it.


  10. Ah, yes. The good old British stationery shop. If you stand stationary in a stationery shop for long enough, someone will see if you have a price tag. Things are always expensive in these establishments. Stick a pack of pencils in Poundland and they cost £1. Stick the same pack in a stationery store you end up paying a small fortune. 😉🍻

    Liked by 2 people

    • But good stationery stores sell stuff you just can’t get in Poundland or Tesco. Like treasury tags for example. And sealing wax, for when you want to seal up your decree invoking Article 50.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do we all have to do that individually? What happens, then, when slightly less than half the island’s population refuses to buy the required amount of sealing wax, or buys some but in the wrong color? Will we be in the EU or out?


  11. Hi Ellen,
    As a German, who is used to using fork AND knife while eating, I still haven’t got used to first cutting my food and then putting away the knife, switching the fork to my right hand, and eating with my fork only – which, in the end, means I’ll have to use my fingers to get the last bit of food on the fork. I’ve read somewhere that the German way of using both fork and knife is considered greedy hereabouts.
    As to those unwanted (robo)calls: lately there’s been a very insidious trick here in the USA. Those callers – I don’t know how – use existing numbers of people who are completely unaware of that fact. And these poor people then get called back with complaints. On our landline we’ve taken to “filtering” calls: we don’t pick up when we don’t know who’s calling. If it’s really important, the people can leave us a message and we’ll call back. On my cell phone I have a fairly good filter. It blocks all calls that don’t show the caller’s number, and it also blocks calls it identifies as spam. But of course, if it’s a really existing number of a real person, then that will get through. Again, as with our landline, I normally don’t pick up but wait if they leave a message.
    One way to identify robocalls on our landline, btw, is that they start their spiel even while my own message is still playing. The robot on the other side simply realizes that the call has been picked up but not that there’s just my answering machine, and immediatley starts blabbering. Even if the call still is somewhat annoying, I do get some fun out of the fact that I have fooled that robot.
    Have a great weekend,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry if I seemed to ignore you. This got lost in the spam folder and I only just freed it.

      The American way of eating is impractical, but I’ve been doing it too long to change now. It’s a funny thing how deep these habits go.


  12. so I’m a bit lost. are you to wear a tutu when bringing out the vast multitudes of different spoons. maybe the tutu is for dancing around the subject. I’m so uncivilized. Yes, I spelled that word with a “z”.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is good. Except the phone calls – I cherish my peace so much that the wouldn’t end up well for the phone, I fear. Also, I start sentences with “If you live long enough” all the time because it’s all true. I love yours immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Since we are on the subject of utensils and dining experiences, please settle something in my head. I was aware that Americans typcially eat their dessert with a fork rather than a spoon but I was told by my ex that most countries (other than US) eat with their left hand even when right-handed. Which is the reason for the fork placed on the left. Do you find this to be true?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure about that most. So many countries don’t–at least traditionally–use forks. But if we narrow it down to countries that do traditionally use forks, it’s probably true. Definitive answer? I haven’t a clue. If I can find anything interesting, I’ll write about it. No promises. The definitive answer may be either (a) no one knows or (b) someone knows but it’s not interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I almost never use a large spoon. Sassy eats everything fork-related with a dessert fork. We are gauche Americans.
    I loved your reference to how we all are immigrants to a world we weren’t born to. That was a stroke of brilliance.
    I LIKE index cards. I use them plenty. No one would get excited about receiving grandmother’s recipes on a flash drive. No. One must have a box, something to hold and cherish.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Your musing on cultural differences is very interesting to me since it is clear that there are different ways to categorise cultural differences: there is the comparison between countries, of course (cutlery), what we call certain meals (which varies regionally within countries), and then there is generational (index card usage), and then personal (how one deals with nuisance phone calls).

    For the record, I fall into the categories as follows. I set the table the standard British way (I think, because I have never read an etiquette book) and set out both a dessert spoon and a fork for “afters”. But I am also a contrary wee besom and don’t use my knife and fork the “right way” as I hold my fork in my right hand and my knife in my left. I grew up calling the meals of the day breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper but then I met my half-English-half-American husband and to make it clear what meals we were munching I took on his vocabulary in part so it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper. Except when I am a contrary besom and still use the Scots version. I do use index cards. Because I am of a certain vintage apparently. And I also love to make lists and notes. And I also use fountain pens which astounds some people who think those are from centuries ago. As for nuisance phone calls, I used to answer and then be politely rude to the person calling (because I get they are in a form of servitude but I also don’t want them to ever dial my number ever again) but then caller ID became a thing and now I screen all calls and only answer the numbers I recognise. Since I am crap at remembering numbers, I do often ignore calls that are actually legit but we also have voicemail so I get back to anyone I should have answered the phone to.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hear, hear! I just finished reading “Open Line”! Excellent read for these times. Yes, yes, you must absolutely find a way to get it republished. It’s uncanny you wrote it years ago, what are you, a soothsayer? Anyway, my contribution to spoons is how bizarre it looks when you see someone eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon, as in old films with “mafiosi” in the Bronx, but I found out it was perfectly normal in Naples in the 1940s and 50s. Big spoons.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As a kid on a farm in northeast Ohio in the 1950’s,we had breakfast, dinner, and supper. But at school we had lunch, a briefer, less substantial meal. I learned to set the table as you described, but plenty of people my parents’ age did not set out the spoons : they resided in the middle of the table in a “spooner” – about the size of a beer mug.(The spoons, not the people) Because spoons were used all the time, for a casual cup of coffee, for a quick taste of what was cooking, etc etc.
    And those things you were looking for in the stationery store were “recipe cards.” Because that was all we ever used them for. When you needed notes for an oral book report you folded a sheet of notebook paper into quarters, cut it apart and wrote on that. Recipe cards were for recipes, because people actually used recipes and cooked in those days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder how the conversation would’ve gone if I’d asked for recipe cards. They still wouldn’t have had them, but I do wonder if they’d have recognized the things I was talking about.

      Keeping the spoons in the center of the table is an inspired idea. If our table were bigger, I’d be tempted.


  19. I loved this post because it talks about diversity in a very unexpected way. You are so right when you say everyone will be an immigrant at one point or another. We live in times of such turmoil caused by the fear of differences, we need to remember our differences are precisely what we all have in common.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I am dismayed and embarrassed to learn that I’ve been setting the table wrong all these years. Not only setting the table, but eating my pie.

    Actually, that’s not true … I WOULD be dismayed and embarrassed, but since I’m a barbarian – and unAmerican to boot – I don’t care. Really just stopped by to say hello.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy to know you won’t be changing your ways. Especially since I read (on I can’t remember who’s blog) yesterday that it was national pie day. Except it didn’t say which day–or if it did I didn’t find it. And, since I think it’s only the U.S. that has all those bizarre days (national pie day; national ketchup day; national vinyl record collectors’ day), I’m assuming that I’m in the wrong country to celebrate, so can I hand this one off to you and ask you to celebrate for me? Using whatever implements of destruction suit you.


      • It’s not “Pie Day”, it’s “Pi Day”, on March 14 – because the first three digits in pi are 314. I guess that would make it an American thing, though, since as far as I know most countries go day/month/year and not month/day/year. Anyway, I will be very happy to celebrate on your behalf – and will be doing so with pie, because that’s the perfect use of a circle!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Even within a country, there are cultural differences and it’s hilarious. I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. We ate dinner at noon and supper in the evening. Then I moved to Ontario, Canada, where they eat lunch at noon and dinner in the evening. I’ve recently moved home with my husband and children, and he has his own French-Canadian language issues with meals. I give up.

    We eat at the noon meal and the evening meal. Argue that. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I’ve always thought dinner was the meal you eat from 5pm onwards. Then again, as you said, it is a cultural thing. Growing up, I always thought supper of as the small meal you ate late at night after you had dinner in the evening. Having lived in Malaysia and Singapore, it’s referred to “dinner” over there. So too here in Australia. We rarely ever use the word supper in Australia, unheard of really.

    As for nuisance phone calls, I get them a lot at home. It is so easy to guess what they are trying to offer ten seconds into the call.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Had me laughing.A bazillion years ago my “aunt” Lucy taught me all the silverware, and because she was uppercrust East Coast (to my low-life hippy est Coast) she knew them all. I balked, and she said someday I’d wish I’d listened. Within four years at 18 and in lone I was at a formal dinner when in fac i knew what all the silverware was for and my date didn’t, and I had also called the admiral a pirate and so, thankfully he found me charming and well-bred. Kudos for my cute but very Republican brother and thank goddess I didn’t marry HIM but oddly, I set my table hippy style and all this talk of spoons took me a way back and cracked me up! Glad I found you again.
    Hate. Cold. Calls. I have a whistle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good story. Years ago, I worked with a guy who told me about a job interview (he was a journalist) that led to a lunch with the bigwigs and multiple versions of all the silverware, during which he managed to launch a fork from its launchpad on the table past the people on the opposite side and onto the floor. He had the presence of mind to say, “I always wondered why they gave us two of those,” and the editor said, “Hire the kid.”

      Whistles don’t help with automated calls. And–well, I’ve used one for a breather who used to call late at night (he stopped calling), but I wouldn’t use one on someone who’s just trying to earn a living in a call center.


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