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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Phone pheak.

In the days of my youth, I was told; "Not to play on the phone." It was a much simpler time back in the 50s and 60s. There were no long distance calls without dialing the Operator first. No computer voice machines, only real live people to talk to. And they couldn't dial a code to call you right back. No caller-ID. Just the possibility the other party might recognize your voice. Oh yea. I almost forgot. Party lines. Those were the best fun. There was no better way to stay up with the goings on in the local area. And of course it was the best way to get black mail info on the potential baby-sitters. Our phone number was only four digits long, and our ring was one long, followed by two short rings. Real rings on an actual bell. No chimes or tones or music. I didn't yet know the concept of the phone book. And there was no re-dial button. So all prank calls were strickly random and never repetitive. Heck, there weren't any buttons on the phones. Only a rotary dial. The only phone in our house was in the hallway, mounted on the wall outside my bedroom door. Other than the fact that it was dead center of the house, I have no idea why it was located there. It was high enough that I couldn't reach it until around age six.
So from approximately 1958 the world as at my mercy. After the first months bill arrived, I was doomed to playing on the incoming calls only. But there were plenty of those to keep my mind thinking of ingenious ways to frustrate the people who were unfortunate enough to call our house while I was at home. From early on, my voice was deep enough that callers couldn't instantly tell they were dealing with a child. And it added to their frustrations. Proper protocol directed that you ID the residents name and say "Krip speaking. May I help you please?"
For me this quickly became "Yea, what cha want?" The caller would always say "Who is this?" To which I would answer "I don't know. I can't see you." That would always lead to another question looking for someone more adult in nature, like; " Is you father at home?" To which I would respond "Wait and I'll check." and then I'd hang up. My parents would ask who was that, and I'd say "a salesman", or "wrong number" or truthfully answer "they didn't say."
Inevitably the phone would ring again a few seconds later an I was the Ring Master once more.
I would cheerfully say "Hello." To which the other party replied "Who am I speaking to?" "ME" was my terse response. "Can I speak to your da... ah, er, no wait, what is your name?" This guy was learning from past experience. But I was only getting started. I would smile and ask "Who were you trying to call?"
"Is this the Warrior residence?"He said.
"Were you calling the Warrior residence?" (I knew now this was a salesman).
"What number is this?" He said.
I said "What number did you dial?"
My parents were in the living room and heard none of the trouble I was giving this guy. And usually by this time one of them would shout "Who's on the phone?" The caller always heard them and I would ask "Who are you?"
Trying to save his intro for a potential sale he said "Let me speak to your parents." I would then yell back to my parents "He won't tell me." To which they always ordered "Hang up." I would ask the caller "Have you ever heard this sound before?" and then hung up.
A few moments later the phone rang again. On the off chance that this was a new caller, I started from the top, "Yea, What cha want?"
"Listen kid, I want to talk to your parents."
This was a hard-head, he was more persistant than a Jehova's Witness, with an AMWAY franchise. But not to worry. My dad was now stomping toward the phone. He would ask "Is that the same caller as before."
"Yes sir." He would then take the phone and proceed to tell this unfortunate fool how dangerous it would be to dial this number again. And then he would hang up. There must have been some sort of "Unofficial Do Not Call List." Because after a discussion with my dad, very very few ever called again.
I never out grew the affinity to fool with people who called my phone. Most people I know feel it an interruption to get a sales call. I love it. A chance to run my improve. Expand my vocabulary. And try the patience of another human, to the breaking point. I have had so many salespeople hang up on me, I lost count decades ago. I never went to the sailor language or name calling. I didn't need to. I even had one lady hang up on me. and then callback to yell "ASSHOLE" and hang up again.
More fun than sales calls are the occasional child prank callers with the old "Is your refrigerator running?" shtick.
But the most fun are the wrong number calls. "Hello, is Debbie there?"
"Yes. But she's in the shower with my brother."
"Who is this?"
"We're doing your girlfriend and you want me to tell you my name. Are you smoking crack?"
One of my favorites was a security company that would call and ask for my passphrase. They had a wrong number and would insist that they would send the cops if I didn't give the passphrase. In the beginning I would try to explain the situation. Because someone might actually be in trouble, and this call was delaying help arriving and then I'd hang up. But after the third time, the game was on. I gave them enough warnings to get the right number for their customer. And still the calls kept coming. Some times late at night. Some times I'd play the bad guy and say things like "I'll be gone before you get here." and slam the phone. Other times I'd play the victim and shout "Help! Hes got a knife and he's gonna..." click. I always got a grin. But never said anything that would delay an emergency response. This series of calls went on for eight months. And finally ended when we moved to a new home and got a new phone number. My phone number is unlisted, for the sake of my family's privacy. But I am not on the do not call list. I wouldn't have it any other way. Call me some time. But caller beware. Make me laugh or suffer my wrath...

4 comments:

Edie said...

I am on the do not call list. I have no patience for sales calls. Hmmm, maybe I should give them your number. LOL!

Amber said...

You sound like my husband. He has been known to drive a few sales people crazy too. :)

2Thinks said...

I remember my cousins in Ohio had a party line. I was a wee one in the mid-60's. Whenever I visited, I'd pick up the phone to see if anyone was talking. I thought it was the strangest thing- that party line.

Daisy said...

I LOVED this post. When I was young, my parents had a party line. And the phone (in my house) was not for entertainment. You used the phone to check in on people or for business purposes. My father would always tell me to never identify myself when someone would call and say who is this. I was to say who were you calling?

I loved the term "Jehova's Witness, with an AMWAY franchise." LOL!!!

My boyfriend plays with unsolicitated callers too. To the point they hang up on him. TOO funny!!!!