I just sat down to try and improvise some sort of post for this gray and drizzly Monday when the phone rang. Since it's not quite two O' clock, there was the possibility that it could be a last minute call for the night shift, so my adrenaline level shot through the ceiling for a second. But it wasn't a call for the night shift. It was some goddamn recorded solicitation: a strident warning to visa, and master... *click*
I used to get pretty rude to phone solicitors, and let them know in no uncertain terms just how much I appreciated being interrupted to hear a sales pitch for something I neither needed, nor wanted. Sometimes they'd get pissed enough to call back for revenge. I remember one from a long time back.
"May I speak with Mr.----"
(same voice) "Do you have to be so rude?"
A guy I used to know had an even better tactic for revenge. He'd let them go through their whole sales pitch- lead them on, and feign interest. They'd read the whole pitch, and get right up to the point where they ask if you'd be interested in signing up for... And then he'd say, "I don't do business with telephone solicitors."
I've mellowed somewhat over the years. Anymore I just say, "No thanks." and hang up. If I'm in the middle of something I may get pissy enough to hang up without the 'no thanks', but I don't give them crap anymore. I figure anyone who's doing phone sales is probably on hard times anyway, and I don't want to add to anyone's misery any more than I can help it.
But now they've come up with this recorded message bullshit. I can't for the life of me imagine anyone staying on the line to listen, much less respond to one of these things. And I can't for the life of me figure out who thinks this might be a good way to promote their business, and so pay money to some company to record obnoxious messages, and auto-dial them to some zillions of households.
And this reminds me. Phone jokes. Prank calls. The hairy prehistoric cave man version of the internet troll. I have to admit, somewhat shamefacedly, that there was a time when I thought making prank calls was hilariously funny.
There was the unimaginative, but effective, wait until two thirty or three in the morning, dial some random number and let out a bloody murder scream in the phone.
Or the hackneyed, "This is the Edison Company; is your refrigerator running?"
"Then you better run after it!"
One that used to work surprisingly well was soliciting funds for the N.A.P.A.L.M. foundation; that would be the National Alliance for the Protection of the Alligator Lizard from Man. "Due to a proliferation of wild chickens in the San Dimas Canyon area, the Ringtail California Alligator Lizard is in danger of immanent extinction. Our foundation seeks donations of used clothing and canned food to combat this potential disaster..." I had the enviro-weenies down before they even existed. It was amazing how many people would listen to the pitch. Once in a while people would actually agree to leave donations on the front porch.
Or, "Hi! Wow, it's great to hear your voice! Guess who this is?"
"I don't know..."
"Awww c'mon, guess! You remember me, I just know you do!"
"Uhhhh, is this -----?"
"Yes it is! How are you? How's the family?"
"They're all a bunch of assholes. That's what they are. And you're the biggest asshole of the bunch.."
No, it wasn't funny. And caller ID has made the prank call a thing of the past. There's no more anonymous dialing of a random number just to see if someone will pick up. Probably just as well. And I'm sure, as I sit here, that somewhere there's a kid hysterically blowing soda pop out his nose, and blasting the monitor with cheetos crumbs as he sits typing out some annoying screed for some unsuspecting blogger, or site administrator to delete. The more things change...