A few weeks ago, my wife ordered Caller ID for our home phone. It seemed like a good idea at the time — hear the phone, check the number, see ‘Out of Area‘ or ‘Smarmy Sales Weenie‘ or ‘Creditor, Threatening to Sue‘ ninety percent of the time, and don’t answer. It’s a nice strategy for ducking the telemarketers, repo men, and cold-calling charities of the world.
Problem is, I have an even better strategy for avoiding those calls. It’s worked for years. It’s called, ‘Never Answer the Phone Under Any Circumstances‘.
Is it a perfect system? No, not really. Because occasionally, I’ll give in — usually when I’m expecting a real call — and answer the phone. Invariably, it’s someone begging for cash, selling some service or gizmo for cash, or demanding cash in return for not breaking my kneecaps with a rusty shovel. How annoying.
For the most part, though, things were fine. People would call, we wouldn’t answer, and that would be the end of it. Every couple of months or so, the wife or I would check the voicemail messages, and we’d find out which family members, appointment confirmations, and winning lottery notifications we’d missed. Then, we’d erase them, and pretend they never happened. Simple.
“Can’t we just go back to assuming that everyone who calls is a money-grubbing windbag deserving of our premeditated indifference? Wouldn’t that be easier?”
With Caller ID, though, things are different. Sure, I can still ignore the ringing when someone calls. And I do — there’s none of this ‘check the number to decide’ nonsense. The phone’s often in a completely different room than me; am I really going to expend the energy to go see whether I recognize the number? No. None of that willy-nilly scampering around for this hombre. That’s how the majority of phone-related accidents happen, you know.
(Most of the rest involve bar bets about who can dial a rotary phone with various non-index finger body parts. Nasty business, that. And wholly unsanitary.)
The big problem with Caller ID is that our phone remembers those numbers, and summarizes the results for us. So after a long day at the office, we might come home and see the phone flashing:
‘17 Missed Calls‘
Each call has a number and time stored, so we can backtrack to the important ones and return them with the push of a button.
Only… there aren’t any important calls. Most days, they’re all crap. It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns, with operator assistance and customizable ringtones.
So now our phone has become just another ‘spam’ folder. Great. I check Gmail in the morning — twenty-umpteen bulk messages. I get to work, log into mail, and — thirty-plus more wastes of time in the spam inbox. And now, when I get home from the office, there’s the phone silently flashing, ‘142 Missed Calls!‘, none of which are worth the *69 it would take to return them. Can’t we just go back to assuming that everyone who calls is a money-grubbing windbag deserving of our premeditated indifference? Wouldn’t that be easier?
Maybe not. And I know the wife is happy when she sifts a family or friend call out from the random bullshit noise. Personally, though, I’m still not answering the damned phone — Caller ID or no. If someone wants to reach me, they can email me — or instant message, or call my cell, or wave those semaphore flags from the next hill over. I don’t care, really. Just don’t phone the house. That call cannot be completed as dialed. *click*Permalink | 1 Comment