So I’m old enough that I remember what being on a party line was like. Seriously, I remember always sneakily picking up the phone as a child and seeing if there were any good conversations that I could eavesdrop on. There never was, but man being on a party line sucked. Imagine being like 6 and wanting to make a phone call and having to WAIT YOUR TURN. I don’t know if I was 6, but I do know that I was young and that the first Mighty Ducks movie had just come out on VHS. Either way, being around that age and having to wait turns for anything sucks, especially so since you never know when the other damn person is going to hang up the damn phone. I actually remember picking up the phone once and screaming into the phone to make the people hang up.
That’s all besides my point though. That’s just a tangent before I say I also remember back when *69 was useful because there was no such thing as “caller ID”. I also remember answering machines being kind of rare in the fact that we didn’t have one until I was 12 or so and the only person I knew who had one was my Aunty D. So you never knew who was going to be on the other end of the phone whether it was your Aunty JoJo, doctor’s office or a clue calling to help you guess where in the world Carmen San Diego was. And that was all cool, but what I thought was the best was when the phone survey people would call to ask all kinds of annoying questions and I would get to pick up.
Ok. That’s second best. I lied. The best thing about this old school set up of no caller ID and ghetto answering machine with a tape in it was when one of my elementary teachers would call home to tell on me for some infraction or another and I would get home first, listen to the message and then promptly delete it. It was even better the day he threatened to call my parents and I told him good luck because they were at work and I’d just go home and delete the message. He seriously went 6 shades of red and I thought he was going to either stand on his head or bang his forehead off a wall…because yeah, he did that. And he still teaches. Somewhere out there is a teacher teaching this current generation and he slams his head off of walls and blackboards when his class frustrates him.
Back the the point, I used to love picking up the phone not knowing who it was. I loved it more if it was a phone solicitor soliciting something. Like free Mexicans if I took a 10 minuet survey. I would sit down and force them through 5-10 minuet conversations just for funsies because they would stay on the phone with me in the hopes of actually getting their survey done or getting one of my parents on the phone to do the survey or buy whatever it was that they were selling.
Naturally as I got older my shenanigans progressed from simple conversations to downright silliness. They’d ask me to take a 10 minuet survey, I’d ask them to tell me a story first. Or I would start asking really stupid questions: “How tall are you?”, “What’s your favorite flavor of gum?”, “How big are your feet?”, “You know what they say about big feet right?”, “Is your refrigerator running?” and “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” Or sometimes I would pick up the phone, figure out it was a phone person and then start whispering and talking about how the aliens could hear us so we needed to talk in code.
These days though, I know when it’s them. Somehow my cellphone is on a list somewhere and all sorts of people call me telling me that I’ve won a trip to Mexico and can travel there for free to pick up my free sample of uncut cocaine as long as I’m over the age of 24 and answer a few questions for them. Sometimes people want to survey me on my household item usage. Four times out of ten I actually let these people do their jobs, but the rest of the time they get something like this:
Operator (it’s a man): Hello, may I speak to Rachael [My Last Name] please?
Me: That’s me.
Operator: Ok. Would you mind answering a few questions about your cell phone use?
Me: Sure, but we’ll play question for questions ok?
Operator: Umm…*Pause* How often would you say you used your cell phone? Often, sometimes, emergencies only or not at all?
Me: Often, I would say. What are are you wearing over there, smexy?
I giggled to myself before I went and threw another load of laundry in the wash and then wondered if other people get these sorts of calls on their cellphones. Do you? And if you do, how do you handle it?