“Hey guys! I’ll be down here all day! Give me a call when you can, but try to catch me sooner rather than later…”
These were the words that I heard as I was taking a nice Epsom Salts bath just a little while ago. It sounded like our friend JB, a college buddy of The Husband. JB and his wife E are close friends of our. At one time, before any of our children were born, we lived two floors away from each other in the same building. After their first daughter was born in 1995, JB bought a car dealership in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where they now live, but we remain close. Two winters ago, our two families went skiing together in Park City, Utah, and this coming winter, we are all off to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
JB and The Husband are well-matched as ski partners, although The Husband is significantly better than JB. But that isn’t saying anything negative about JB, who is an excellent and expert skiier. It’s just that The Husband is one of the best skiiers I have ever known personally. E and I are also well-matched as ski partners. She’s even a bit better than me, which keeps me on my toes, keeps me challenging myself. But she’s not so much better than me that we can’t enjoy the same runs at pretty much the same pace. I’d say the difference in our skills is mainly in our form on the bumps – she has had more lessons than me on bump skiing, whereas, no surprise here, I quickly tired of lessons and chose to just practicine, practice, practice (see? once again, history doesn’t lie).
At any rate, we decided to rent a townhouse, big enough for all of us, including our five collective kids, ages six through 11, and we are in the process now of firming up the details. Thus, I figured that JB was calling to discuss the reservations.
I grabbed a towel, slipped and slid my way toward the phone in the living room, dripping salt water all over the wood floors of the hallway, foyer and entry to the living room in the process, and lunged for the phone.
“Hey!” I said.
But the voice in my ear ignored me.
“If you can get back to me in the next hour,” the voice continued, “I can get you free satellite hookup…”
I tried to interrupt him. “HELLO?!”
But he persisted: “and you know what, guys, this is so cool, this is such great news, when I hear from you, I can work it out so that you end up getting the first three months of service without charge….”
It was a recording.
In my Email Inbox, along with the emails from wealthy but victimized Nigerians who want me to help them get their millions of dollars out of non-existent bank accounts, I have emails from senders whose names seem like they could actually be people I know (“Kim Winsor” and “Andrea Timmons” and “Heidi Wexler” – even using ethnic names! now, that is playing VERY dirty) but who are actually automated message-bots writing to tell me that I’ve qualified for that mortgage that I didn’t apply for, or that I’ve won thousands of dollars worth of free gas and can claim it by clicking HERE. I click “Delete” or “Move to Norton Antispam Folder” and find myself annoyed at the myriad ways that sleazy promotors have found to harass me and others who have no interest in refinancing my home or partnering with the devil in order to obtain fuel for my car.
But heretofore, I could always rely upon phone solicitations to permit me to voice my displeasure at being systematically targeted for the advertisement of products and services in which I have no interest at all. There was always the basic and fairly polite, “Thanks, but I’m not interested”. And there was always the broader-scoped, “I don’t accept phone solicitations, so please don’t call here again” for when I felt particularly righteously indignant. And when I was feeling like I needed to release my inner comedienne, there was, “Can I have your home phone number so I can call you back at home later?”…..”Really? Why not? I mean, after all, you’re calling ME at home…” If words escaped me, I could always just hang up, knowing that the sound of the phone clicking in the ear of the poor schlub deputized with the task of calling people who don’t want to be called would convey my sentiments.
But now they’ve gone and taken away my previously unalienable right to harsh on phone solicitors. The unwelcome telephone solicitation is now nothing but a disembodied recording* of what is probably not even a human voice. Apparently, the final frontier for the quiet release of consumer agression is officially closed for business.
I guess I’ll have to go start kicking the dog.
* Note: this practice is a misdemeanor in Arizona and may be illegal under the U.S. Code, although I really don’t feel like doing anymore legal research in this lifetime.