“Holy shit,” I said to no one at all. “That really HURTS.”
I was referring to my back and left hip (aka “the good one”). It was early. Although morning often is accompanied by stiffness and pain, I don’t normally wake up with quite such a jolt.
Rolling slowly out of bed, I tried to remember what I’d been dreaming about. Something about cats made of smoke and a clothesline that was part of a computer game. And a shrink who offered to scratch my back, but couldn’t find the right spot.
I took a couple of Excedrin and a muscle relaxant, rearranged the bed and tucked myself in for a few more hours of sleep. The phone rang. Of course.
I looked at the caller ID. It showed a local number. This in no way meant it was an actual local call. Scamming technology often shows local numbers on my Caller ID. Yesterday, it showed that Garry was calling me, except he was sitting next to me on the love-seat.
I answered the phone in what has become my typical surly morning greeting: “Who are you and what do you want?” There was no response. A bit of crackle on the line, but no voice. Not even a recording. I hung up. More accurately, pressed the OFF key.
I get a lot of these “nobody there” calls and I wonder what they are trying to find out. What could they possibly want to know? No hidden treasure in this house. That was my second epiphany of the morning.
I don’t expect a ringing telephone to herald a call from a friend. I don’t even expect it to be a return call from someone with whom I do business. I expect all calls to be a scams, survey, sales pitches, or an attempt to collect money from someone who doesn’t live here and probably never lived here.
Almost all of the calls I get are recorded messages. I can’t even insult the caller or his company. That used to be the only positive side to these endless, meaningless calls from semi-anonymous people. Even that small pleasure is gone.
I have utterly abandoned good telephone manners. Telephones are not a way to communicate unless I’m making the call. Otherwise, it’s annoying and intrusive — another attempt to steal our personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other yet to be defined way.
I can’t make them stop calling because they never call from the same number twice and the number that shows on the Caller ID is fake. There’s nothing to report. NOMOROBO dot com has considerably limited the volume of calls, but nothing entirely eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — inevitably they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.”
Except, I never do that. I rarely fill in forms of any kind — and never ones which require a phone number. I also tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.
I actually do have a smart phone. I just don’t use it.
As part of the day’s epiphanies, I realized how technology steals pieces of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with the technology. It is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. It’s what people do with it that’s can be life-stealing. Those People have ruined telephones for me, probably forever.
Unwanted telephone calls may seem a minor detail in view of the many awful things going on in our world these days, but I can remember waiting with pleasant anticipation for the phone to ring. It wasn’t that long ago.
Or was it?