“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.

Too skeptical?

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?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. Unwanted scammers are really a bother. Funny thing is when they call and I answer I also get the crackling on the line and no one there. I see the callers number on my phone and can check it in internet. They are all registered.


    1. Those scamming spamming groups have HUNDREDS of phone numbers and they rotate them so you never get the same one twice. That’s what makes them so hard to stop. I do NOT know why they call and there’s no one there. What are they trying to do? It happens to everyone, so they can’t be looking for a place to burglarize, so what is the point?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never answer my phone (which is a cell phone, as I no longer have a landline) if I don’t recognize the number. I figure that if it’s important or the caller legitimately needs to speak with me, they’ll leave me a voicemail message. Or they’ll text me. Most callers from phone numbers I don’t recognize don’t leave voicemail or text messages.


    1. That’s what I did for a long time, but all that ringing really aggravated me. Because we do have a landline, or at least a VOIP line, we can have nomobo interrupt the calls before they finish a single ring. I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually turn my iPhone’s ringtone off, so when a call comes in, I see the number flashing my screen and the phone vibrates. No annoying ringing.


  3. I get those from time to time although normally i do get a person who is obviously in a call centre. Could they be a machine dialling? But why, and why, if you answer the phone does nothing happen. Caller ID is good, I find myself glancing at it before picking up. If I don’t recognise the number I don’t pick up. i have a terrible memory for mobile numbers though so people who know me will leave a message. If there is no message I don’t call back. I can’t say I ever liked phones a lot but you are write. People have made me hate them.


    1. I don’t know what those silent phone calls are all about. They may be automatically disconnected by our special “disconnect robo calls” function. But even before we got nomorobo, we got a lot of these silent calls. I think they call on head sets and I think they call multiple targets at the same time and talk to whoever is on the line first. Or that’s my current theory.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We have not had a landline for years so the phone calls I get are on my cellphone. The calls that bug me are the ones that look like you are calling yourself–until you look and realize that they have scrambled your phone # and that is who is calling you. Who does this???


  5. It’s a big problem with the Charter Voice numbers… of which I have one. Just about everyone with the local Charter prefix has “called” me in the past two years… including myself! I remember when I was growing up, our phone number was one digit off the local swim club’s number… and all summer long we’d get calls from people wanting to talk to someone at the pool. The endless string of garbage calls actually makes me miss that now…


    1. Well, it seems to happen to people as far away as Tasmania, so it might not be ONLY Charter … but as a Charter customer, it sure does happen to US a LOT. It’s very annoying. I love it when I call me. IF there is anyone on the other end, it is always a robot call telling me I can save a fortune on my electric or oil bill. Like I’m going to sign up with one of these robot callers for anything. I suppose someone much sign up, but talk about dumb!


  6. I’m chuckling away, Marilyn, I have much the same attitude towards answering the phone that you do. There’s that dead silence when you first pick up and say hello. Then if it is one of those off shore guys who wants to clean your air ducts or it’s no answer at all, I become ballistic. My younger son has quite the laugh when calls and identifies as the “air duct cleaner”.
    My theory is that they are out to drive us nuts so they can reopen the mental hospitals.


  7. Someone told me that those ‘non-calls’ (dead air, crackling line) are actually call centers (spammers, idiots who dead call people they don’t know to try selling them something they don’t want) who have ‘queued’ the call up, waiting for an agent to be free to talk on the line. How they do that, yet dial the person at the same time is a mystery, but it’s true. I waited once to see what would happen and danged if some person (Brian, Todd, Alan, John) who was clearly born in India didn’t pop on the line and thank me for holding and then go into a spiel. I hung up and have never felt sorry about hanging up immediately on dead air since.

    The most annoying thing in these parts is the relatively new habit of these scammer/spammers is to pretend a friendly connection with their victim…I’ve gotten “Phew! It’s real hard trying to reach you Em….harder than Chinese arithmetic … how you been?….” or “Hi! Long time no speak, how you been?”…and then launching into their spiel. They get a slammed up receiver in their ears…


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