First, let me say that I HATE talking on the phone to people I don't know. I'll go out of my way to avoid placing an order or making an inquiry or scheduling an appointment if it means cold-calling a stranger.
On the rare occasion that this unpleasant task can't be circumvented via the magic of the internet, I tend to overcompensate for my unease by being extra polite and enthusiastic to whoever is on the other end of the telephone line. Usually, this approach helps the conversation go quite smoothly.
But sometimes, it ends in complete embarrassment.
Last week, I had to make an appointment for a yearly physical. I dialed a local clinic I've never visited before, and the scheduler was very nice as she ran through her list of questions.
HER: "Is there a particular physician you'd like to see?"
ME: (extra polite) "No, I don't have a preference, thank you."
HER: "Would you like a man or a woman?"
ME: (extra enthusiasm) "A woman would be great."
HER: "Oh, do you want a Pap then, too?"
ME: (extra extra enthusiasm) "Yes, I'd love that!"
[it suddenly occurs to me how creepy that response was]
ME: (very quickly) "I mean . . . I wouldn't LOVE it . . . I just . . . I know it's . . . something I need to do."
Through her laughter, she managed to reassure me that she understood completely. And for that, I remain enthusiastically grateful.