Cause after a while, you stop leaving the phone on a soap opera to make a pot of stew in the bowl or use the telemarketer as a free therapy session where they end up being the one asking for and getting the prescription meds. When a stranger is trying to hock their goods to you over the phone, they don't want to leave a message. Use that.
You could just hang up on them, but let's not be rude here. Civility is the first line of being absent in your presence of mind. Epicurean, being good is feeling good and serves its own end. Take the time to enjoy the pleasures. And making time with a false delay is as simple as any.
The conceit of learning English for the first time, unaware of the nuance in words such as "hello" and "interested" is always a standard that plays its own fun. If you like talking and if you have the time, stalling is a great way to exercise the loneliness with a false pretence of having someone care about chewing their ear off. It's also not hard to quiz them on their own personal banking beliefs or financial situation. You're off book now, working to get their opinion off the books and can smell the sweat trickling down their armpit.
The phone rings. You pick up. They're talking over the noise of the dozens of other headset callers in the room burning up some of that Nag Champa. Each with a short and standard name to make you feel at ease (chances are if it sounds exotic but not foreign, they're based in the same country as you).
Where you are is never at the head of the house and not the person they are calling for. They shouldn't know that. But when you're more than eager to take down a message to pass along, it's time for the person at the other end of the line to look for the escape hatch and bail on you. It makes for a quicker and much more polite call.
"I'll take a message to pass along."
"Oh, there's no message. We'll call back some other time."
Their other response is that whatever they have is confidential, a personal matter that cannot be handed about as freely as the blank credit cards they swipe between calls. They're scrambling, marking all the lines off their dialogue script like the paunch and ranch hands grappling to play Trémaux's algorithm to find their way out of the unemployment situation.
You could try and talk your way to avoiding the future call, but they'll come anyway. Better to cut it out with courtesy, making them think you're helping them out.
If they do give you a phone number to call back on, always repeat the last three to make it appear as though you're writing them down. For important messages, get them to spell their own name using the radio alphabet.
If it's someone you know making that call, they should find the relationship soon severed.
Written on Monday, 26 March 2012