Call me crazy, but I hate phones

jtarica@thetribunenews.comApril 6, 2013 

Joe Tarica

I’m having a hate-hate relationship with the phone these days.

Land lines in particular.

It’s gotten to the point where I have zero interest in answering a call unless I actually know who’s on the other end. (And no, I don’t have caller ID. You think I’m going to pay even more for a phone service I already dislike?)

It makes me long for the days of the “do not call” list.

Remember those beautiful few years when you could actually enjoy a weekday meal or a lazy

Saturday morning without being accosted by pollsters, professional fundraisers and all sorts of other persistently needy people interrupting your peaceful home life from every far-flung corner of the country?

No more. As a result, I am no longer answering our home phone.

The condition reached an unbearable level in the past few weeks when we began receiving multiple dropped calls every morning between 8 and 9 o’clock.

It became particularly noticeable because I am often the only person in the house at that time, with the junior receptionists off to school.

Not that they’re much of a help screening telemarketers.

Despite my best efforts at training them to ask who is calling, judge the validity and then lie vigorously, they still innocently answer and pass the phone along as I wave my arms in frantic silence like a grounds crew member at an airport while energetically mouthing “I am not here!” — employing as much exclamation one can achieve without actually speaking.

It usually doesn’t work, and then I have to tell the Nielsen survey taker/
police auxiliary fundraiser to buzz off.

At around the same time as the dropped-call epidemic, we started getting messages from insurance agents wanting to give me quotes on whole-life policies and for the used Cadillac I had apparently just purchased.

This was a double-whammy because now I was not only getting phone calls from people I don’t know, but they also wanted to talk to me about spending money on stuff I don’t want.

That sound you hear is my teeth gnashing.

I tracked that disturbance down to a service that gathers online inquiries and provides them to insurance companies for follow-up sales calls.

Except I never made any such inquiries.

Now, in addition to the annoying phone calls, there’s some kind of limited identity fraud occurring as well.

Great.

All of this just makes me appreciate texting even more. My perfect cellphone plan would be 2 gigabytes of data, 250 texts and about 20 minutes of actual talk time.

That’s all I need. I’m sure anything you need to tell me, you can say quicker on a keypad. Personally,

I’m far better at writing than speaking anyhow.

Speaking of writing vs. speaking, my phone challenges aren’t limited to home. At work, we have a new voicemail system that conveniently routes messages to our email accounts.

In a way, this is handy because we no longer have to call up the system and navigate the voice prompts. But it’s a bit annoying as well because now everyone is broadcasting their voicemails over their external computer speakers.

Oops … sorry about sharing your news of that highly sensitive bunion-removal procedure. See, you should have just sent me a text instead!

If this system were truly an advancement in technology, it would transcribe the messages and route them to my email all in one step.

My final bit of telephonic phrustration came this past week when I had to make one of the very worst kinds of calls — to one of California’s many intricate bureaucratic agencies.

All I wanted to do was notify them of a little status change.

Could I mail in the form? Could I do it online? No. I had to call and talk to a real, live person, but only after navigating a corn maze of robotic prompts, all of which utterly failed to advance the process in any way.

Why, California, do you insist on asking for my Social Security number while routing me through all sorts of questions to just the right location if when I get there you nonsensically and inefficiently will provide me with a live person who only proceeds to ask all those same questions again!

Argh! That’s it. I’m done talking.

If you want to get ahold of me, see below.

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