Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Saved by the Bell?

H. L. Mencken claimed the America indoor bathtub was invented on December 20, 1842. Okay, he made that up (no surprise to me) but Alexander Graham Bell really patented his invention of the telephone in 1876, meaning our great-great-grandparents never had to get out of the tub to answer the phone. Maybe that’s why it’s called the Good Old Days?

Having an answering machine filled with dial tones instead of messages this weekend because the automated solicitor disconnects when it doesn’t reach a human being reminded me of different “good old days” when half of the calls my home phone received were sales spiels on switching long distance carriers or for time-shares in places I'd never heard of.

Caller ID became the best idea I ever bought and when I saw 'out of area' I didn't pick up. Then came the National Do Not Call Registry, a wonderful and rather effective idea with just enough wiggle room so that anyone who claims to be conducting a survey (to include people who really are conducting surveys) as well as folks who tell you they were hired to raise money for a local charity (even though nine of ten times the local charity has never heard of them) can still ring you because they aren't, technically, 'for profit' operations. 

Not only can they call you but anyone running for office can, and does, call usually with one of those pre-recorded messages. We both know those calls will only increase as we continue slouching towards Bethlehem. But for the most part, the number of unsolicited calls has dropped except....

When you do answer from a number you don’t recognize, it’s often “Rachel from card services” (never Phoebe, my favorite Friend) who tells you 'today is the last day to lock in a low rate' and to press one NOW for more details (there's never a number to press for less details).

I get angry at what I think is a violation of that Do Not Call registry and champ at the bit after depressing 'one' looking forward to giving somebody a piece of my mind (or what’s left of it). Except, and you’ve found this out already, the voice on the line explains technically, they didn’t call. I depressed 'one' on the touchpad and called them. Hoist by my own petard. 

My choices are to stare at the caller ID box and when 'out of area' is in the window, going about my business elsewhere in the house, or reach for the air horn while ‘pressing one’ and waiting for a scream. Not that I think anyone should choose the low road or to be a horn instead of a light. But, sometimes the temptation is great. 

Perhaps I should blame Alexander Graham Bell. If he'd just stuck to inventing those crackers, those wild herds of Bakelite might still be roaming the pampas, unfettered and free. Press Zero at any time and Rachel will explain how you can help. Please hold.
-bill kenny

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