“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 Tylenol and a muscle relaxant. I 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. It was not a local call. Scamming technology shows local numbers on my Caller ID including my own number. I’m pretty sure I’m not calling myself.

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.

It has been a long time since I expected 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 scams, surveys, or sales pitches.

All 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 calls from 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 personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other 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 eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.”

Except, I never do that. I do not fill in forms online and anything which requires I include a phone number. I tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.
I actually do have a smartphone. 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?

Categories: Communications, Humor, manners & civility, Photography, Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. I never answer the phone unless it’s my son, my daughter, or my wife, and they almost never call, they text. So if my phone rings, I don’t answer. I let it go to voicemail. Most spam callers don’t leave one. These days I hesitate calling my iPhone a phone (we don’t have a landline), because I don’t use it as a phone, but almost exclusively as a mini, handheld computer for web browsing, WordPress, texting, email, checking the weather, and games.


  2. I totally panic if my phone ring and it’s a family member’s number – no one actually calls unless it’s an emergency; everyone just texts the rest of the time. I’m not sure I even know how to talk on a phone any more.


  3. Stuff like this is why I hate making calls at my job for clients or former clients. We’ve gotta periodically let ’em know about sales and stuff going on to see if they want to take advantage of them. I hate making those calls because I hate receiving them (and trying to be civil)

    the best I can do is carefully script what I’m going to say in as short a space as I can, and I’ll let them know who I am and who I’m calling from and mention “we wanted to let you know about something coming up, do you have 45 seconds?”

    I’ve learned to keep those calls under a minute. If I promise that, then they’re more likely to let me get the call through. Most of the time I still cross my fingers and hope for voicemail, though.

    But scammers and robots–that sucks the life out of you. No attempt to be human whatsoever


    • Maybe 99% if the calls I get are recorded and now they scam local numbers. I pick up the phone, listen for the sound of a human, then hang up. At least I don’t have to listen to them continuing to ring. It’s a pity. I used to like talking on the phone. Not any more!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wish I could say the same–there’s less than a handful of people I don’t mind talking to on the phone, and the ones that aren’t telemarketers that keep calling are people I am getting tired of having check up on me. They think of me as extended family, but they were my dad’s friends, not mine as far as I’m concerned, and I start feeling guilty for dodging their calls, but some days I just don’t want to talk and I don’t want any more advice or prying into my life.
        Those calls are the real reason I hate the phone these days. At least telemarketers have barely found my home phone (except for the highway patrol soliciting donations–I can’t dodge those guys!)


        • I still don’t know how all the spammers and scammers and surveyors found us, but they did and they are relentless. My son calls. My granddaughter calls. A few friends call. But I know their numbers. I have some out of state friends, but I recognize their area codes, even if their names don’t pop up. But they don’t call often, though we email a lot. Part of it is that until Garry surgery, he really couldn’t talk on the phone, so people who wanted to deal with him directly used email. To a degree, I think we all got out of the habit of calling each other. For a lot of different reasons, but mostly because of that relentless fake phone calling from the anonymous callers.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. About 4 years ago (or was it 5?) i just put my (cell) phone away. I was paying about 21 bucks a month for service, but I never got any calls and I never used it. Ummm … that’s not exactly true, I did get frequent calls from Bill Collectors for the idiot who owned my number previously. No matter how many times I told them I wasn’t that person, they kept right on calling. Other than this i got nothing. So … i wondered how that would go? – not having a phone on me. It worked fine. I haven’t missed it. And saved quite a bit of money too. Not saying that phones can’t be useful. They save lives at times.
    But, so far so good.
    I do feel unusual when I use a bus though. Everything looking at their phones and I don’t have one.


    • I have a smartphone. It is off unless we are traveling. I hate it, but if we are on the road, it’s good to be able to call for directions or to say we’re stuck in traffic and will be late. It’s only $14.38 a month (just text and calls, unlimited) and I could get it down to $10 if I want to get rid of texts — but sometimes, the only way a company will get in touch is via text. What do people without phones do?


  5. Marilyn, you are a trifle more polite than I am. My typical answer is ” What do you want, make it quick, I’m busy.”
    They usually announce their name then I hang up if it isn’t someone I know.


  6. And I…. in France, I had – in ONE day – a new record of 25 cold calls ….. Everything you write is the same here – robots are calling and only when you give a sign of recognition, they pass the call to a human being – and I also have all those with the automated ‘reply’ (we shall put you in contact with your advisor as quickly as possible, tks for waiting, etc), as IF I’d call them. I have my answerphone on at all times and only speak to people I have in my address book – if I don’t know a number, I don’t reply.


  7. I remember that time too.


  8. everything you say is true, and sadly, the phone isn’t inviting anymore, it feels like more of an invasion



  1. REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong — Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth – ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC RELATION OFFICERS

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