How to Bust Out of Your Everyday Prison

by Carol Hess on February 9, 2012

Sometimes ignoring a minor irritation doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it gets even more irritating. And then downright annoying. And then a pain in the butt. And then worse.

Well, I just took care of one of those irritations, and I feel like I busted out of prison. Like I removed shackles that had been keeping me enchained for years. Like I declared the country of Carol free from all dictators.

What did I just do? I answered the phone.

For months, I’ve been ducking a telemarketing call from a certain institution. I’m on their call list because I’m a cancer survivor. And they figure I’m ripe for the plucking because they have the word cancer in their name.

They couldn’t be more wrong. As a cancer survivor, I’m fairly clear on who and what I want to support in that arena, and it isn’t some organization I’ve never heard of that calls me two and sometimes three times a day, seven days a week.

I’m probably going to support the hospital that absorbed every single penny of my cancer treatment that my insurance company wouldn’t pay for. And trust me – that was a whole heck of a lot of pennies. (In case you didn’t know, affordable medical insurance for the self-employed doesn’t cover much of anything, including chemotherapy. As I recall, chemotherapy runs about $10,000 a pop.)

So I’ve been ignoring the calls from Name Not to Be Revealed for Fear of Getting Sued cancer organization. We’ve got it down to a routine — a 2-3 times/day, 7 days/week routine. They call, I look at my caller id and don’t pick up, their computer does something that triggers a very loud dial-tone, that prompts the mechanical operator to tell the computer to hang up and call again, my answering machine records the mechanical operator, the little red light on my answering machine blinks, I erase the message, the red light stops blinking.

Irritating? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Infuriating? Yes. And this morning it reached the point where I wasn’t going to take it any more. So I answered the phone.

“Hello, this is Carol.” (Irritated tone of voice.)


“Hello, this is Carol.” (Louder, more irritated tone of voice.)

“Mrs. Hess?”


I’ve given up telling people Mrs. Hess was my mother. I’m not sure when Ms. went out of style, but I ms. it.

“Hello, Mrs. Hess, I’m a professional fundraiser with Name Not to Be Revealed for Fear of Getting Sued cancer organization.”

In one giant breath so I wouldn’t have a chance to interrupt, the caller went on to explain that she wasn’t going to ask for any money. Just 15 minutes of my time to send a letter to my neighbors on my street. Name Not to Be Revealed for Fear of Getting Sued cancer organization would give me everything I needed. All I had to do was put stamps on the letters. Name Not to Be Revealed for Fear of Getting Sued cancer organization would go ahead and send me the packet later this week, all right?

I said, “No, it is not all right. First of all, why on earth would I agree to do that when I don’t know what the letter says? Second, why on earth would I agree to do that for an organization with which I’m not familiar that calls me 2 or 3 times a day, 7 days a week. And, by the way, those multiple calls are why you are getting an instant no. Take me off your call sheet immediately.”

And down went the phone. No, I didn’t even slam it, which would make my father proud. He didn’t believe in beating up on equipment just because you were pissed off. Oh yeah, that’s right. Modern day phones don’t slam. Well, I didn’t throw the phone across the room. That’s gotta count for something.

Okay, right about now I’m feeling just a tad foolish for making such a big deal out of one lousy telemarketing call. But honestly, I felt SO good after I hung up the phone. I was forceful and felt okay being that way. That’s huge. And I said no. That’s huge. And I stood up for myself. That’s huge. And I eliminated something that has been bugging me for weeks. That’s huge.

Why did I finally take action today? Because right before the phone rang, I had started writing a post about tolerations – those things we put up with day in and day out that erode our quality of life. Dealing with the Name Not to Be Revealed for Fear of Getting Sued cancer organization once and for all seemed like the only choice to make if I wanted to practice what I was about to preach.

The Reverend Al Sharpton said, “Lots of things were acceptable until we insisted they were unacceptable.”

What just became unacceptable in your life? What are you no longer willing to tolerate? What will you change to bust out of your everyday prison? When?

by Carol Hess


Categories Personal Empowerment, Self Care, Stress Management

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Nikki February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Ugh, I so hear where you’re coming from. I avoid calls from unknown numbers like the plague. The worst is when they tell the operator, “Oh, It’s John” like I’ve been expecting their call.

Well done on assertively telling them where to shove it.

PS. “I’m not sure when Ms. went out of style, but I ms. it.” – classic, classic line 😉 love it.


avatar Carol Hess February 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

Yes — I’d forgotten the “Oh, it’s John,” gambit. Why do they do these things? Surely they don’t work? Gotta admit I was pretty pleased with my Ms. went out of style line too, Nikki.


avatar Sandi Amorim February 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Tolerations, while often small in nature, are the biggest drain on energy I know!!! Everything about this post is something to celebrate Carol. Or should that be Ms. Carol 😉


avatar Carol Hess February 10, 2012 at 8:12 am

Well, it sure as heck shouldn’t be Mrs. Carol! Ugh, that reminds me — when I was living in Africa and married, I was called Mrs. (First Name of Hubby). Talk about an almost intolerable toleration!


avatar Steph Marks February 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Honey, if it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal. Congratulations, Ms. Hess, for standing up and saying NO to something that has been a burr in your saddle for quite some time. You so rock, my friend!


avatar Carol Hess February 10, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks, Steph. I definitely feel better minus that burr and wondering why on earth I didn’t do something about it sooner. Eliminating a toleration happens when it happens I suppose. The important thing is that it happens, right?


avatar Daniel February 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I feel you! You did good!


avatar Carol Hess February 10, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks, Daniel!


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