Okay, how many of you have never heard that old phone joke? I suspect it originated with Alexander Graham Bell. It may have been the first phone call ever placed.
The phone has been a tool for amusement for years. In the late sixties-early seventies, Lily Tomlin's obnoxious telephone operator Ernestine was a popular character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: "One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingys...." meant somebody was about to get an earful.
One of my favorite Ernestine routines involved her dealing with an irate phone company customer back in the days when there was only one phone company. After a lengthy debate with the customer, Ernestine finished with, "We may be the only phone company in town, but we screw everybody."
These days, we can be screwed by several phone companies. That's called progress.
And there's Bart Simpson, who's been ten years old for the past twenty-three years. (I thought Bart would be in prison by now.) One would think after all these years, Moe at the tavern in Springfield would be wise to Bart's phone pranks, but he'll still try to call "Seymour Butts," "I. P. Freely," etc. to the phone.
Moe's a real dumbass.
We played phone pranks like Bart's when I was a kid. Everyone did. But now, with so many people, kids included, having cell phones, the phone prank has entered the twenty-first century. The pranksters are no longer calling. They're texting.
In the nine years I've been using a cell phone, I've learned to not answer calls if I don't recognize the number or if it's an "anonymous" call. When you're paying by the minute, you're crazy to waste those minutes on wrong numbers. As a result, I get a lot of calls from people who don't leave messages. Or recorded messages asking to be called back. (But you get those even if you do answer the call. If the caller really wants to talk to you, they should be on the line.)
A couple of years ago, I was getting calls from a creditor trying to find the person who'd had the number before me. No matter how many times I told them I didn't know anyone by that name, they kept calling. One day, they caught me in a bad mood, and I really tore into the woman on the line. She started to cry. "You don't have to yell at me!" she sobbed.
"Obviously, I do," I pointed out angrily, "because you won't stop calling!"
She never called again.
I also get text messages from people I don't know. I got one from a young woman who was pregnant--and the guy who'd gotten her pregnant had apparently given her a phony number: mine.
I got one from a guy named Tyler who was trying to reach his buddy John. When I texted back and told him he had the wrong number, he seemed unconvinced. "There's no John there?" he asked.
"We do have a john, but not the one you're looking for," I told him.
A few days ago, I got another text from a number I didn't recognize. The texter was looking to buy some acid. I texted a response, advising they be sure they had the right number before sending such a message. William suggested I give them the number for the police department.
So when 5735929451 texted me again yesterday, I did.