A coworker got a phone call today, from something resembling a reverse answering machine. He answered the phone and got a recorded message apologizing that there aren’t enough agents available to speak with him, and please leave a name and number and the first available agent will call back.

We discussed the irony, and the evil, of such a thing. Then my coworker said something brilliant.

How much money does this company save by not having to employ an army of telemarketers who mostly listen to people on the other line saying no? Let a machine make the calls, then a small number of telemarketers can call just the people who leave a name and phone number.

Of course, maybe developments like this have something to do with why unemployment is around 9 percent.