For starters, the list I was given was rooted. Half the office numbers were no longer connected. When I switched to calling mobile numbers, a stack of them were disconnected as well.
I was calling them to try to help them to stay in business. If they don't talk to me and follow a few simple steps, they will not be in business in a few months. It's not that I have anything special to offer - the ground rules of their business operations are changing, and I have to walk them through those changes. If they fail to change, that's it. Game over.
That meant I spent half my time trying to track these characters down. I spoke to very few. I left a lot of voice mails, and the voice mail messages that they left were generally very unbusinesslike.
But that was nothing compared to the way they answered the phone. Here are some examples:
I know we like to hold up small business as the bedrock of the economy and our society. People love making speeches about the wonders of small business and the grit and determination of small businesspeople. The salt of the earth, and all that.
After today, I have a different view. It's no wonder so many go broke each year. Many of them are useless, uncommunicative, incompetent boobies. They are not paragons of virtue, or the lifeblood of the economy. I'm not sure how to describe them, but it is no wonder that so many remain small, or that they end up being smaller than when they started. What a pack of gumbies.