Monday, October 1, 2012

"Say Goodbye To Hello"

A writer I once read about said he refused to own a phone, because he hated the idea that anyone with (at that time) a dime in his pocket could make a bell ring in your house.

My view on this matter is precisely the same.  Telephones?

An unwelcome intrusion.

When I was working outside my house, I would always have the ringer on the phone in my office turned off, so I would not be interrupted.  An “Extension Phone” would ring in an outer office, it would be answered by an assistant, and the message, if important, would be conveyed to me, and I’d take things from there, mostly by, if I could get away with it, saying, “I’ll call them back”, and then not doing it. 

The “bell silencing” was an improvement on matters.  At least, I would not be startled mid-thought (or mid-nap) by an ear-shattering “BRINGGGGG!!!”

Well, those joyous days are long gone.  I work at home now.  And I get a lot of calls.  Which I have to answer myself.


How the Mighty have fallen.

Almost none of the phone calls are personal.  Mostly, somebody wanted something.

I’d get a call from a guy who wanted to let me in on a hot stock tip.  (I said, “Let me ask you something.  Would you invest in a stock tip you got from a stranger calling you on the phone?”  I recall him saying, “If it’s a good one”, just before I hung up.)

I’d get a call from a woman informing me it was time to get our air ducts cleaned out.  I replied that I didn’t think it was. 

I’d get repeated calls telling me that a certified contractor was offering free home improvement estimates in our neighborhood.  (It was never the contractor who called me.  It was always, “My Dad is a certified contractor…” forcing me to hurt two people in one phone call – the contractor, and his son, who has to report, “He doesn’t want you, Dad.”)

This is a fractional sampling.  On a daily basis, I would spend my working hours writing these posts and, with varying degrees of politeness, depending on the volume, saying, “No” to an endless barrage of solicitating strangers.  I could not imagine anything more annoying. 

Unfortunately, the “Be careful what you wish for” gods got wind of my complaints, and before I knew it, people calling me on the phone asking for work or charitable donations abruptly stopped.  To be replaced instead by…

Phone solicitations from machines.

Barbara Boxer needs my vote.  (Apparently, however, Senator Barb is too busy to call me herself, as are her overworked assistants.  So instead, I get a “Robo-call” encouraging me to support a Senator who cares deeply about people, but not enough to express her concern in any way other than mechanical.)

“The FBI has determined that there is a home burglary in this country every fifteen seconds…”

is another automated “come-on” I receive regularly from Burglar Alarm Security companies.  (A burglary every fifteen seconds.  I look at my clock, which has a second hand on it.  I am apparently due for a burglary any moment now.  I wonder if I should put on some pants.)

“Your Credit Card company has some important news for you…”

insists still another pre-recorded alert.  It very quickly turns out that they don’t. 

Somehow, I find these non-human interruptions more ire inducing – not to mention insulting – than solicitations from actual people, whose flesh-and-blood intrusions I am suddenly starting to miss.  It seems like matters have gone from bad to worse.

And then, unexpectedly – as unexpected things always are…

The phone in my office stopped working entirely.  (Although the rest of the phones in the house worked fine.  Meaning, I now had to race into another room to answer the unwanted calls.)

I dial 611 for a “Phone Service Representative.”  Past experience has taught me that there is one company you call for outside repair service (basically, the phone lines), and another I am required to call if the problem is inside the house, as the “outside” people are contractually prohibited from coming in, and the inside people are prohibited from going out (except when they arrive and when they leave.) 

Of course, I have no idea where the problem emanates from, so it’s “fifty-fifty” that I’ve called the right place.

I make an appointment, and the “Inside Guy” arrives.  After a cursory examination, the “Inside Guy” informs me that I have called the wrong place.  Not because it’s an “Outside Guy” problem – it is not that either – so, as it turns out, either place I called would have been wrong.

What it is, I am told, is a “Phone System” problem.  Meaning that a private “Phone System Technician” needed to be called.  I am then told I would be billed for the “in-house” visit.  Even though he didn’t do anything.  Other than inform me I had to call somebody else.


The private phone technicians install an entirely new phone system, even though the only phone not working was the phone in my office.  After more than four hours – and the hundreds of dollars, required to purchase and install the new system –

The phone in my office continues not to work.

Finally, desperate for an answer, a rooftop examination of the wiring connecting my office phone to the outside phone lines revealed that a small phone plug that led into my office had cracked and broken off.  When it was replaced, my office phone immediately came to life.

Had the private technicians discovered that rooftop plug first, the solution would have been a replacement plug, rather than an entirely new phone system. 

But there you go.

This story – although I, and perhaps a majority of readers would like it to be – is not over.  A day later, we discovered that, since our new phone system had been installed, when receiving “incoming” calls, our phones – all our phones now – will only ring once, and when we “pick up”, there is nobody on the line.  The phone system technicians have been called to come back.  (The “outgoing” calling process is just dandy.) 

Days of inconvenience. 

Major expenditures of money. 

And still more to come. 

A monumental effort

For the return of a service

I do not even want. 


Tania said...

Wait. You have a landline???

I ditched mine years ago. Get a smart phone. Have it on silent. Screen calls.

pumpkinhead said...

Expenditures of money? What the hell is wrong with you! Don't pay those bastards a penny! Call those damn companies and insist on speaking with whoever is in when your phone starts working.