Have a difficult time saying “no” to someone who asks for your phone number?

Now you can enlist the help of a professional rejection specialist. This is how it works.

If somebody asks for your phone number, you can smile politely and scribble down this number: 623-412-6412.

When the caller dials the number, this is the message they’ll hear:

“Thank you for calling. Unfortunately, the person who gave you this number does not want to talk to you or speak to you ever again. We would like to take this opportunity to officially reject you.”

The caller can then be consoled with poetry or jokes and win prizes.

Luckily I didn’t learn this firsthand – I received a press release.

This local rejection number is courtesy of Los Angeles-based Wildgate Wireless, which also offers personalized rejection cards and a private number with your own recording. For follow-up, you can find out who called you, via e-mail.

Travel often? Never fear, you can reject people all across the country, from Los Angeles and Seattle to New York and Orlando. While on an European vacation, you can reject in Dublin and in England.

One of the earliest known rejection lines belongs to rejectionline.com, which was started in New York in 2001 by brother/sister team Jonah and Chelsea Peretti.

This line is a bit harsher than its West Coast counterpart. For example, this message: “I’m sorry that you have to get this message from a complete stranger but you have to know that you are a loser and no one will ever, ever love you.”

Or the message from a “comfort specialist” who advises, “Being alone is OK, too, and if you start to feel real down in the dumps, there’s always, always alcohol. Sweet, comforting alcohol. Or frozen Snickers bars, you like those don’t ya?”

As mean as these responses are, I guess the positive side is that you can now get rejected in the privacy of your own home. The slick, greased-back hair dude can still play it smooth in front of his friends and walk away with a dozen phone numbers in one evening – just as long as he doesn’t show his friends that he’s received the same number in different handwriting. But imagine the frustration when the slick dude enters the number directly into his cell phone and gets the same message over and over again: “Number is saved already. Save again?” At least he can still prevent humiliation by shielding the screen from any wandering eyes.

It’s better than being rejected on TV over and over again in front of millions of viewers, which seems to be the trend these days.

But isn’t giving out a false number or “accidentally” transposing or blurring numbers just a little bit kinder? Perhaps those at Rejection Hotline, started by Atlanta entrepreneur Jeff Goldblatt in 2001, felt some sense of social responsibility when they came up with their list of “Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Uses of the Rejection Hotline.”

Appropriate uses include giving the number to those with oversized egos, those who just don’t get the hint or those who don’t shower. Inappropriate uses are giving out the number just to be mean or using it as a contest among friends to see who can give it out the most.

Wildgate Wireless started its rejection hotline in Southern California in 2002 and brought it to Phoenix last month. The telecommunications company receives about 100,000 calls each month from the hotlines, says Donna Knapp, Wildgate Wireless administrator.

Knapp says she thinks the best thing about the rejection line is that single women can use it as a safety precaution; a method to get rid of men they don’t feel comfortable giving their number to, but who won’t leave them alone.

However, the company wanted to avoid being nasty about it. “We want it to be funny,” she says. In fact, rejectees can win prepaid phone cards. The fact is, “sometimes you want to get rid of a person in a nice way, but just don’t know how to do it,” she says. “This is a nice way of doing it without being ugly. … You just write a number down and you never have to worry about this person again.”

Oh, one word of advice: I wouldn’t give out the above phone number at a local Jewish singles event – the community’s a bit too small.

This article first appeared in the Sept. 12, 2003 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.