THERE aren’t many things that can instantly make me lose my temper these days, but robocalls and unwelcome solicitations on my cellphone are among them.
As many as a dozen times a day, I’ll hear my phone ring and see the call is from Texas, Pennsylvania or some other spot where I don’t know a soul.
There are more than enough nuisance calls from elsewhere in Virginia. I have the bad judgment to pick up some of them, only to be rewarded with a long delay before someone tries to tell me my bank account needs action or that I should donate to a charitable fund of some sort.
It’s enough to make me wish this was happening on a landline. With one of those, you can at least get the satisfaction of slamming the phone down to end the call.
I’ve put my number on all the Do Not Call registries, I’ve blocked all the callers as soon as I get the hated phone calls and they seem to come more frequently than ever.
The ones that really make me crazy are the calls that seem to come from a local number, somehow scamming the system when it’s actually coming from San Antonio or Fort Lauderdale.
I used to scream at the folks calling, but quickly realized that it doesn’t do anything to stop the calls from coming, and just gets me agitated.
Part of why these bother me so much is that I’m not one who spends much time on the phone talking for fun. So when my cellphone rings, my immediate reaction is that it’s someone from work or within my immediate family calling about something of consequence. In other words, I need to take it.
That’s why I’m doubly irked when I stop what I’m doing—sometimes pulling my car over to take the call—only to hear some recorded or well-rehearsed sales pitch that I take as an invasion of my privacy.
Years ago, a friend told me he got back at solicitors who called his home by not hanging up once the sales pitch was over. He swore it kept them from making further calls because the line was still open.
I tried it, and with modern technology, it doesn’t work. It may never have really worked for him, but it at least made my friend feel better.
One thing that has worked to limit calls, especially from pollsters and political parties and candidates, is getting rid of a landline.
Just prior to past elections, our home phone would ring several times a night with political calls and other sales pitches. When we got rid of the hard-wired phone, those calls were blessedly gone from our lives. But soon enough, folks looking to make money found a way to reach us on our cellphones.
Scam calls seem to have ratcheted up recently, with people frantically trying to tell me that something’s wrong with my American Express (I don’t have one) or that I haven’t paid a bill for an account I never had.
Years ago, one such call did eventually give me a laugh, though it initially made me mad. This rambling, Jamaican voice would come on the line and someone would say, “Hello, Bobbbb!” before trying to talk me into buying something he was selling.
He’d call back every day or so, and eventually I got tired of it and said in a rather loud voice, “Leave me alone. If you can’t even get my name right, why should I take you seriously!”
To which my Jamaican caller replied, “X@#% you, Bob!”
These days, I just hang up when one of these calls arrives, and immediately block the number that called.
But it doesn’t work, as I believe these scammers and unwanted sales hucksters have equipment that randomly generates numbers or disguises the real number they’re calling from.
The one exception is a caller who sounds like a nice enough young woman who keeps trying to sell me some sort of travel package. Her number shows up as in this area code.
She sounds like a nice young lady, and I can’t help but think that getting hung up on a couple hundred times a day can’t be very rewarding.
The father in me wants to tell her next time she calls to find a better line of work—a real job—which might solve some of her problems and at least one of mine.