I got an answering machine, but I still mostly picked up anyhow.
When the do-not-call lists came about, I signed up for them, landline and cell. Additionally, I got a little Phone Zap device for the landline. If somebody calls and they aren't in the zapper's phone book, they get a recorded message. A mean voice allows as how we don't take sales calls, and if that's who you are, hang up, now. If not, you can punch in #2, and it will ring through. Most of the people I know are in the zapper's book, so if it rings and I'm home, I answer it.
Now and then one slips through, and I feel perfectly justified in asking them why they did so after the zapper told them not to before I hang up on them.
Saturday morning, eight-fifteen a.m. my cell phone goes off. Being asleep, it took me four or five rings to find the thing.
Robotic Voice: Hello! This is a very important call for ... (different voice) Lola Sarducci. If you are ... Lola Sarducci ... please press 1. If ... Lola Sarducci ... cannot come to the phone right now, please press 2. If ... Lola Sarducci ... is not available, please have her call 1-800 --
At which point I hung up.
Yesterday, cell phone rang again. In the other room, time I got it, I missed the call. So I hit redial and immediately got a strange honking noise instead of a dial tone.
Then: Beep! I had a voice message!
I clicked on it. A human -- with an accent that bespoke someplace in, say, Calcutta, said, "This is a most important call for Lola Sarducci. Please call back as soon as possible." Followed by another 1-800 number.
I didn't call. Maybe they will just go away.
I mean, I feel sorry for people who get the wrong number, but it's not my problem. I once got a message from a woman who thought she was breaking up with her boyfriend. I didn't call her back, either.
When I used to get calls for the bike shop, I'd say, "Yes, we are having a sale! Today only! Come on by, half off everything in the store!"
Today, again, the cell cried out. I answered, just missed the call, got the same message from an Indian speaking English. Thanks to the British Raj, we can now talk to somebody eight thousand miles away when our microwave oven craps out, or when somebody wants to sell us something we don't want.
Resigned, since it was obvious they weren't just going to go away, I called the 800 number.
Since my number was obviously in their data base, the response, from Mr. Apu, who must have left his job in Springfield running the Stop'n-Rob, was, "Ah, Miz Sarducci!"
"No," I said. "You have the wrong number."
"Wrong number? Hold a moment, please."
Keyboard clicks. Then, "But this is the number for Lola Sarducci."
"No," I said, "it isn't. It's my number. No Lola Sarducci lives here."
"Do you know Miz Sarducci?"
"I do not."
"How long have you have this number?"
"Oh, I dunno. Twenty years."
"But this is the number Miz Sarducci gave us."
"That may be, but it's not her number to give, it is mine. She doesn't live here, I don't know her, and either she lied, or you got it wrong."
Where, I wondered, are my Hindi curse words when I need them? Sala kutta! Bhai chod!
"Yes. Please take my number off your lists." I was tempted to say that I was a close personal friend of President Obama, and if I got another call, I was going to have him unleash the Air Force upon the caller, but I refrained.
I'll save that for next time if they call back ...