Monday, November 16, 2009

And My Number is BEechwood 4-5-7-8-9

I used to get a lot of telemarketing phone calls. Since I'm home all day, and since there was always -- before the days of caller ID -- a chance it might be family or business I didn't want to miss, I'd answer the phone whenever it rang, and as a result, a lot of people tried to sell me a lot of stuff I didn't want. I came up with some funny routines for getting rid of them, and when I was feeling feisty, I'd unship one and fire it.

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."

"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 ...


Brad said...

From the day I got my work cell phone, I've been getting calls for the previous owner of my phone number. It's usually a collection agency or a self-employed insurance company.

For the most part, after explaining that I'm not the person they want, they'll take me off their records and that will be the last I hear from them. However, I got one gentleman that insisted I was either the husband or boyfriend of the person and that if she didn't pay the debt, I'd be responsible for it.

I told him good luck with that one, and hung up. He called back and cussed me out. Then called everyday to tell me to pay.

Went away after the lawyer got involved.

Couldn't not answer the phone. Most of these calls came from "Unknown" or blocked numbers. Our corporate office switchboard shows up the same. So, I have to answer all calls that come in on it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, getting calls from a collection agency for someone else sucks. Now try having the number that belonged to a collection agency. Yes that's right, they apparently went out of business leaving what became my number plastered all over people's credit reports. Good times for all.

Seriously though, the note about getting a lawyer is a good one. See there is a thing called the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act". Not going into details here but suffice it to say you have quite a bit of protection from debt collectors (though not the original creditor).

Dojo Rat said...

Whenever those calls find me, I always ask what the weather is like where they are, then try to sell them something, like, say a rototiller that kinda' runs, or an old pickup truck.
They can't wait to get me off the phone...

Dan Moran said...

I got a new cell when we got back into the country. 2-3 days after getting it, I got a text message:

"leather and oil party in Silverlake! tonight at 7."

I messaged back, "Sounds fun, but I just got this phone and I'm not your guy."

Got back: "No problem, come anyway if you want, open to straights and gays," and he gave me the address.

I didn't go, but I can't say I wasn't tempted. I've never been to a leather and oil party in Silverlake, and I like to be open to new experiences ...

Steve Perry said...

My favorite one was the guy who pretended to be a cop investigating a murder -- "Dust over there by the door, and don't step in the blood -- now who's this again?"

Scared the crap out of the marketer before he was done. "How did you know the deceased? Are you gay? Were you having an affair?"

I loved it.

steve-vh said...

A friend had a grandfather in a nearby town that was getting calls for Pizza Hut delivery as one of their listings incorrectly had his number. After several repeated requests to get their print changed met with no success, he simply started taking the delivery orders.....

Brad said...

The last 2 days I have received at least 3 dozen calls on my cell phone. All but 2 were from NY exchanges. The 2 that I actually answered (one was local, one was somewhere else) asked for the same person. Not me. The NY numbers, the first few times I answered, would disconnect immediately. Disappointing, considering I pay as I go on my cell. I called 1 back only to hear "This number has been disconnected". This, no more than 5 seconds after being called from.

Aggravating as all hell. Now, unless I have you in my phone, I don't answer. If it's for me, you'll leave a message.

Nataraj Hauser said...


And I am just barely old enough to remember that first phone number, not to mention party lines and having to lease your phone from The phone company.

I know Lola. She was a show girl.