Sunday, May 31, 2015

Telephone Mosquitos

Few things in life are able to penetrate the hardened shell of my cynicism. Robocalls are one.

They are a technological wonder. What do you suppose Alexander Graham Bell would have made of them?

Imagine being able to place a call from anywhere in the world and mask your phone number with any sequence of ten digits you can imagine. And of making untold numbers of unseen telephones ring, announcing your pointless and invasive messages.

Perhaps these people are amused by the imagined efforts other people make at locating or getting to their phones before they stop ringing.

We were in middle school once too, weren't we?

My favorites are the calls which offer me the opportunity to lower my credit card interest rate. A very animated female voice urgently informs me of the glorious life that awaits if I will just push the button marked 'one' on my keypad now.

The fact that the call has been answered by my antiquated answering machine is lost on the originators of these calls and their number-masking wizardry.

In a gesture meant to burnish the entire affair with the sheen of legitimacy, the target is advised he or she can push the button marked 'three' if he or she no longer wishes to receive these calls in the future.

Of course, this is like assuming that because you vote, you will have elected representation. One does not necessarily follow the other.

In moments of unfettered pique, I have actually answered these calls.

On one occasion, I asked to be placed on their do not call list. I was informed by a smug, vaguely Asian-sounding female voice that it didn't have a do not call list.

In other, more lighthearted moments, I have pretended to be interested. I ask you: does wasting a telemarketer's time not seem entirely fair? 

I inquired how my interest rate could be lowered beyond zero, since I (fortunately) do not carry any credit card debt.

The operator asked for my credit card number. I told her I was in the middle of making love to my wife, and being naked, didn't have it handy just then. Couldn't she just give me a brief rundown of the program?

This was followed by a dial tone. I smiled at the irony of having a telemarketer hang-up on me.

It was clear that despite her mastery of telephony, she had no sense of humor. Or any appreciation of my ardent desire to lower credit card interest rates.

But in all honesty, the worst part of these calls is the reckless and wanton use of psychological warfare. They use the most-savage psychological weapon in the human arsenal to break-down their targets—hope.

Yes, it is critical that you understand these calls contain the following words: This is your final notice.

At least they are consistent.

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