Don’t Call Us

Meanings of “Don’t Call Us”

The phrase “don’t call us” means do not take pains to pursue the matter or the application status for the job. It also means a partially polite rejection, implying that if the applicant doesn’t receive a call within a specified waiting period, they have not confirmed the job/project or deal.

Origin of “Don’t Call Us”

The phrase “don’t call us” originated in the 20th century in the United States. Its first citation is found in the newspaper, The Toledo Blade, in its March publication in 1944. Dorothy Kilgallen has cited this phrase in her article “The Voice of Broadway” as “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Thank You, Applicant by Eric Foster Rhodes

“We’ll be glad to review your application
Your qualifications are really too high
For a position such as we are offering
For your credentials will be on file
Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

We’re looking for someone with at least
Seven years’ experience performing this
Unique, one-of-a-kind type of work
But we’ll give you a careful review.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

The poem highlights the issue of the applicant when the potential employer states that they are happy to review his application and encourages the candidate that his qualification is rather better. However, the employer also stresses the fact that he needs not to call; rather, he would be calling him. It works both ways; a likely rejection or acceptance. The phrase is repeated in both the stanzas, making it a refrain as well as giving an intended meaning.

Example #2

Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You by SUGARLOAF

“A Long distance directory assistance, area code 212
Say hey, A and R this is mister rhythm and blues
He said hello, and put me on hold
To say the least the cat was cold
He said, don’t call us child we’ll call you

I said, you got my number
He said yeah, I got it when you walked in the door
Don’t call us, we’ll call you
Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

The singer faces the same dilemma that he has tried to visit the employer after calling his code number but the response he gets is the same; “don’t call us” by which he means that he is facing a likely rejection. The phrase has been repeated with it adjacent phrase “we’ll call you,” which seems to have been used just for reassurance.

Example #3

How Not To Make Money: A Novel by Raj Kundra

‘In programming terms, this is unique.  Instead of the program running the system – in this case, ‘declare the VAT’ – our little system is running the program. We engage, we pay, when we want. But our system is set up so that it all looks picture-perfect.’ He chucked his container into the bin next to the bench. ‘Don’t call us. You don’t need to. Instead, we’ll call you.’ He looked from Mike to Aziz and then back to Mike again. ‘In programing terms, that’s the Hollywood Principle. “ Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” This, though…’ he thought about it. ‘This is the Heston Principle.’

In this passage, the candidate mentioned is asked questions about computer programming but he gets likely rejection in the shape of this phrase that Mike and Aziz both repeat twice to reassure him that he will be called. The rejoinder, too, is with the phrase that “we’ll call you.” However, the candidate knows the rejection. The phrase is used with its intended meaning.

Example #4

Expendable by Pat Miller

Grandma has stayed with me since arriving on my doorstep in October. I haven’t heard any more about the investigation into Jack’s disappearance. I called everyday to the Fort Collins’ police department until I could sense they didn’t want me to call any more. I got the message that they would call me if anything new came up – don’t call us, we’ll call you. But they didn’t call me. I did not want to make trouble for Michael with fellow officers, and I never heard back from him about the duffel bag. I got the feeling he was keeping his distance.

The narrator wants to know about Jack from the police. However, to add to his consternation, he does not receive a favorable response as they only ask him not to bother himself to call them, for they will respond to him which means that there is no progress on Jack’s case.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Their rejection of her job application seems to be exactly like don’t call us.”

Example#2: “If the manager says don’t call us and we’ll call you, it doesn’t always mean an immediate rejection. They are sorting thousands of CVs hence, you can wait for at least 2 weeks before following up or continue to apply for another job.”

Example #3: John Burger has declined to comment on the don’t call us campaign when most companies are calling the people.”

Example #4: “Having spent years in the commercial world, he knows that don’t call us mean do not call and that it does not mean that they would really call you. Therefore, he has resigned to the fate and started working on sharpening his skill.”

Example #5: “When friends say ‘don’t call us’ they are either trying to avoid you or they have never been your friend.”