Junk calls


A few columns ago (Sept. 12), I addressed the ever-common junk mail plague, to which none of us are immune.

Today I will tackle, “heard” mentality, and how that although there is no cure for the disease, there is a thing or two that can be done to help mitigate its adverse effects. I speak of “junk calls.”

First, a little background about their nature.

The callers know where you live, and they know what time you eat, sleep, drink, and go to the bathroom too — so they can interrupt your schedule at critical times, when you will be more likely to “listen,” just to get them off the phone.

Years ago, before there was any legislation aimed at curtailing the annoyance, the dialers of doom could “reach out and touch” you any time of the day or night — when last I checked that was reduced to a 12 hour window of 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in your time zone (not that skillful scofflaws won’t call you before or after hours from a different time zone and then, “realize” their mistake).

Those that employ the dialing demons figured how machine could help man better fulfill the dastardly deed. Automated dialers became the rage, and callers would no longer be depleted of energy or attitude upon reaching recording after recording. Average dials per hour went up from about 30-40 to 80-120 or more, and thus the intermittent invaders became less intermittent, and more intrusive.

Flashback — 1997.

It was year one of remarriage after my first spouse died, and a new sister-in-law, a licensed massage therapist, thought her sibling and I would enjoy a romantic evening, watching that smash number one video hit, “The Ancient Art of Sensual Massage.”

I cannot possibly recommend it more highly for those experiencing severe insomnia, or needing a ready substitute for syrup of ipecac. Not only was it excruciatingly boring, but its “actors” had pimples where they should not have, and they performed their ministrations to a continual beat of 70s porn movie music (so I’ve “heard”) — think, “Do whack ado whack ado whack ado.”

Suddenly, while beginning to drown in my own drool, the phone rang. My wife and I had our first fight as to who was going to get there first and leave the other to treacherous boredom — I won.

“Hello,” I answered, you know, the kind of hello that masquerades as a statement and is really a question expressing hope.

“Hi,” the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone responded (I think years later she worked for that quasi-medical company I spoke about in the junk mail article).

“I’m so and so, and I’m with Yada Yada, and you have qualified to be entered into a drawing to possibly win a free trip for you and three friends to Timbuktu — you just pay shipping and handling of the travel documents — isn’t that great?” she squeaked.

“Wait a minute,” I told her slowly, “Do I understand you to say that my wife and I have qualified to maybe win a free trip for us and two friends to Timbuktu, and that if we are chosen, all we have to do is pay for the travel documents?” — punctuated with fevered pitch incredulousness.

“Yes,” she exclaimed (I could hear the drool splash into her empty coffee cup).

“Hold on,” I urged her. I repeated the same thing with the same fervor to my wife, who was now beginning to have TMJ issues from excessive yawning — she wisely paused the video. She was straining to hold back the laughter, since she has an IQ over 13 (actually, way over), quite unlike the nice young lady on the other end of the phone. I got back to her, purposing to jump in once she started her pitch — I did not have to wait long.

“So, all you do is …” That’s as far as she got — I owned her from there on out.

I said, “I have GOT to thank you” (You could hear the puzzlement on her face). “I know no one ever thanks you for calling and interrupting their evening, but my wife and I are SO grateful you did — you have saved our lives! We have been watching this movie called, “The Ancient Art of Sensual Massage,” and it is the most hideous, mind-numbing boring movie of all time. I think they got some washed-out porn actors all full of zits to rub oil on their partners’ bodies while that 70s porn movie music plays in the background and…” there was no rescuing her — she was laughing so hard that she literally could not remember her name or why she called, or even who she worked for. She was trying to explain her gasping to co-workers to no avail. She thanked me for filling her otherwise drab evening with thunderous laugher, and hung up.

Lesson one of two.

To help lessen negative junk call effects, take control — interrupt — early and often, and assert your own agenda, rather than the one that called.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

I get this call from one of these people that will help to reduce my credit card debt to nothing (I don’t have any to begin with, but they don’t care about that — they just want your Social Security and credit card numbers). When he told me his name, I stopped him dead in his tracks.

“My name is Lucifer.”

“Whaaaatt?,” I exclaimed, “I thought you said your name was Lucifer.”

“I did,” he responded.

My first thought was that his father must have been Anton LaVey, because who in their right (or wrong) mind would name their child that. Regardless, I let loose.

“Lucifer, Jesus loves you.” Now it was his turn.

“What?” he asked. I repeated myself.

He hung up — mission accomplished. I checked the caller ID — it said he was calling from New York — that explained a few things.

Lesson two of two — When a junk caller calls (especially if they don’t sound as though they are of the Judeo-Christian faith) — tell them Who loves them — and hear the best sound of all — a slammed-down phone.

Les Linz is a resident of southern Indiana who writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his amazon.com author page. Send comments to awoods@aimmedia indiana.com.

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