Alexander Graham Bell, Terrorist

There is a saying that if one waits long enough the past will repeat itself. When it comes to home telephones, we have arrived.

I can remember when all telephones had a rotary dial and were only available for rent from the telephone company. When I got to an age where I was allowed to answer the telephone we were still on a party line. This had nothing to do with politics.

The phone line was shared with other people. When you wanted to make a telephone call it was necessary to listen first to make sure the line was clear. Each phone on the party line had a distinctive ring sequence. This meant that the telephone could ring all day long and not one call was meant for you.

Fifty-five years later the home phone rings fifteen times a day. Once or twice a week a call is from somebody that I want to talk to.

The telephone is no longer a convenience but the bane of modern existence.

The vast majority of calls are automated or solicitations for something I don’t want or need. It breaks down something like this. Five calls are auto-dialed hang ups. Five to seven calls are computer generated messages that try to cajole the receiver into interacting with the program prior to reaching a person. The remaining calls are from an actual person.

It is pretty obvious to me that people who believe that the government can solve all their problems, never signed up for the “Do Not Call” list.

Is there a solution? The Israelis came up with one in the back in the 70’s. Surely with technological advances the Israeli model is even more viable. The Israelis managed to plant telephones on terrorists. When the planted phone rang and the terrorist answered, the Israelis activated an explosive charge installed in the telephone. Talk about reach out and touch someone. I consider telephone solicitation on par with terrorism, seems like a viable option to me. 

I understand some people are squeamish. I’ll settle for a device that permanently implants the headset upside the caller’s head. In that manner telephone solicitors can be identified and shunned for the scum that they are.

Until technology catches up I will continue to fight my lonely battle with the cockroaches of the telephone lines. I have tried a variety of tactics.

I always participate in automated telephone surveys. I do my best to be consistently inconsistent. So far I have been white, black, and other with an age somewhere between 18 and 101. I am male, female, conservative, liberal, and other. I vote or I don’t. Trust a poll if you like, but I figure I’m not the only one lying my ass off.

If I actually get to speak with a real person pollster, I require them to take my poll. It consists of one question. The only acceptable answer is yes or no. The question: “Have you stopped fucking German Shepards?” The results of my survey indicates pollsters are incredibly perverted. Every one of them asserts that they have stopped having sex with German Shepards. Funny thing is they never get around to asking their questions.

Some telephone solicitors try to get folksy asking, How are doing today? Talk about lobbing one over the plate. My response is invariably, ” I was doing fine until this fucking asshole on the phone interrupted me.”

Most hang up, but some get irate. I guess they thought being a fucking asshole was their secret. It’s no secret, that is the only way to categorize a person making a living as a telephone solicitor. The problem with this approach is that the call is over all to soon. 

I have changed tactics. I don’t know about you, been when I answer the phone the caller has one second to speak. I answer the telephone “hello.” If I don’t get a response I hang up. If I do get a response I repeat my hello. No matter how the conversation goes the response is the same, hello. The solicitor knows there is a live person and they attempt their spiel, only to be met with, hello. It’s great! I can hear the frustration creep into their voice. I have tied a couple of solicitors up with ten hellos. Each hello seems to reinforce the feeling that they are going to miss a sale. 

The ultimate punisher of telephone solicitors is my father. Last year, about this time, he kept a phone solicitor on the line for 45 minutes. He even invited her to Thanksgiving dinner. No word as to whether he was disappointed when she didn’t show.

In sixty years the telephone has gone from an indispensable convenience to an intrusive instrument. My next move is to shut off all the ringers and respond to those callers that leave messages.  I will return those calls I consider worthy of a response. Call, leave a message. I’ll call you back at 3 am.