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Posts Tagged ‘telephone’

  1. True Confessions: I Was Stood Up by a Fax Machine

    April 24, 2016 by Diane


    Black retro phone

    Do you ever get unwanted phone calls? Like, a heavy breather?

    Or that guy from the Police Activities League who wants to fund a baseball team for a bunch of skinny kids? “Your life savings, that’s all we need.”

    Or a survey-taker. “It’s only ninety-nine questions. It won’t take long.”

    Yeah. I don’t get those people.

    I get robo calls from a fax machine.

    Have you ever tried reasoning with a fax machine? You can’t. I’ve tried.

    The phone rings.

    I answer.



    Fax machine. I hang up.

    The phone rings.



    Another fax machine! What are the odds? I hang up.

    It rings again. I pick up.


    Wait a minute, this is the same fax machine!





    I slam the receiver down.

    The phone rings.

    I disconnect it.

    In the morning, I reconnect it.

    The phone rings.



    After three weeks of this, I call the phone company and talk to a woman in technical services.

    She wants to know my name. My phone number. My mother’s maiden name. The name of my first pet. The name of the street I lived on when I was five. The name of the thirty-fifth president of the United States. The name of the thirty-fifth president’s mother-in-law, her first pet, and the name of the street she lived on. By the time I’ve forgotten why I called, she says, “How can I help you?”

    “Uhh….Hold on, it’s coming to me. Oh. I’m being harassed by a fax machine!”


    “I’m sorry to hear that, Diane. Let me see if I can help. Do you have caller ID?” she says. “Let me check. No, you don’t. For an extra fee you could get caller ID.”

    “Wouldn’t I need one of those phones that displays who’s calling?”


    “I don’t have one.”

    “You could buy one.”

    I sigh. “Can’t you just trace the call?” I say.

    “No, I’m sorry. That department is gone.”



    The whole department?”

    “Yes. I’m sorry.”

    “Can the police trace the call?” I say.

    “Oh, no. If they need something traced, they call us.”



    “But that department is gone.”

    “Yes. Well. We can trace a call if it’s an emergency.”

    “This is an emergency. I’m being harassed by a fax machine. A fax machine. It’s driving me crazy. It calls over and over again–used to be every day– now it’s every Thursday night. Every Thursday night. I come home, I have messages from it on the answering machine, the phone is ringing when I walk through the door, and it’s the fax machine. This. This right here, is an emergency!”

    “I’m sorry to hear that,” she says, “If you had caller ID, then for an additional fee, you could block the number. But that only works if the number is local.”

    I take a huge breath. “So you’re telling me I need to buy a new phone, and extra services which might not even work, all because a fax machine is harassing me.”

    “You could try dialing star-six-nine. But that won’t work unless you have caller ID.”

    “Thank you,” I say. “Thank you very much. I’M HANGING UP NOW.”

    I turn on my laptop. I’ll figure this out myself. I google “calls from fax machines.” I find forums where others are complaining about the same problem. The same problem! All over the world, fax machines are calling people. They’re on a mission to drive us all insane! I’m ready to up my medication when I see this post:

    “Hook up a fax machine to the phone to see where the call is coming from.”

    Brilliant! That’s what I’ll do!

    And then I remember.

    I don’t have a fax machine.

    I could buy a fax machine. But that would cost, like, ninety dollars. Or I could buy a phone that displays caller ID and pay the extra fees to the phone company, but that would cost, like, ninety dollars. Either way, I’m out ninety dollars.


    But wait.

    Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe I need to think outside the box.

    Maybe this fax machine is looking for its mate.

    It’s like that owl in the back yard that goes hoo-hoo-hoo all night, all by its lonesome. It’s waiting for a response from a lady owl.  It breaks my heart! So I drag myself out of bed and stand on the lawn and make owl noises back, and we go on like that for a good long while, and it seems a tiny bit thrilled that I’m answering–although that could be my imagination. But after awhile, it stops hoo-hoo-hooing, and I go back to bed.

    Maybe I need to talk to this fax machine in its own language!

    So. On Thursday night, I come home from work and look for messages.

    I check the dial tone. All is in working order.

    I clean the bathroom, make dinner, watch a DVD, go to bed. I turn out the light and lie in the dark, waiting.

    Around 3:00 in the morning, I’m forced to admit: I’ve been stood up.

    It’s not me, it’s the fax machine, I tell myself.

    Still, it could have left a message.

  2. Is There A Manager Available?

    March 3, 2014 by Diane

    Gone for lunch sign

    When I first set up my blog I ran into a slight glitch. So I called the outfit overseeing my domain and explained the problem to the customer service representative who answered the phone. “What is your domain name?” he asked. He sounded like a man who was good at sounding like he had all the answers, but really didn’t have a clue.

    “Squirrels in the Doohickey,” I said.

    “Can you spell that please?”



    “Squirrels, plural. More than one squirrel in the doohickey.”

    “Can you spell that please?”

    “D-o-o…is there a manager I can speak to?”

    I could have practiced compassion. I could have practiced patience. At the very least, I could have been mindful of how rude I sounded and added the world please. But I was determined to avoid wasting our time. I knew what would happen: I would go through the lengthy process of spelling my domain name and he would look it up and then he would tell me that the email on the account wasn’t mine, which was what I already knew, and had already told him, because when I had tried sending multiple messages through the contact form on my website they never arrived in my in-box.

    “The manager is gone for lunch,” he said.

    “Is there another manager available?”


    “Are you telling me that in all of domain-dom there is only one manager, and he’s out to lunch?”


    “If I hang up and call back and get another customer service representative in another building, will that person have another manager who might be available?”


    “I’m hanging up.”

    I redialed. I reached another representative who sounded eager to do my bidding; I didn’t let it fool me for a second. “Can I speak to a manager please?” I asked.

    “What is this regarding?”

    I repeated the problem. I explained in a tone that says I’ll tell you the situation, but when I’m done I want you to connect me with someone who can actually fix it, that someone had screwed up, that someone had written down the wrong email address on my account.

    “What is your email address?” he asked.

    I told him.

    “That’s not it.”

    “That is it.”

    “It’s not the one we have.”

    “I know. That’s the problem. Someone on your end wrote it down wrong.” I smiled so he would hear it in my voice. “Can you please tell me what email address you have?”

    “I can’t tell you that.”

    “Why not? It’s my account. It’s my domain.”

    “I can’t.”

    I dropped the smile. “You can’t, or you won’t?”

    “I’m not allowed to.”

    “Is there a manager available?”

    “No. I’m sorry.”

    Talking to a customer service rep is like bringing your car to an auto body repair shop to get fixed, and someone inside sends someone outside to give it a probing look. The young man kicks the tires, runs a hand over the shell, picks at a paint chip, steps back to evaluate it, ducks back inside to flip through an automotive repair manual, comes back outside and stands with one hand holding up his chin, nodding knowingly, while all the while he’s thinking about what to order for lunch. And when you ask for someone higher up, a mechanic perhaps, to look at your car, the nodder stops nodding and gives you a hard stare and says there are no mechanics available. And he’s right. Because when you storm past him into the lobby, past the receptionist who’s talking to her boyfriend on the phone, past the coffee-drinking estimators leaning their paunches back in their swivel chairs, and burst through another door that you assume leads to the garage, you end up gazing out at a parking lot full of dented vehicles, realizing that the whole building is a false front.

    There are no managers.

    Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

    The Easter Bunny is your mother.

    At the end of the yellow brick road is a short bald man operating controls behind a curtain, just trying to get his job done.

    Sorry to break it to you.

  3. Scammed

    February 17, 2014 by Diane

    Phone scam

    On Saturday morning the phone rang.

    I was half asleep, or half awake, depending on which end of the day you’re looking at, and since it was morning when the phone rang I’ll say half awake. I lurched for the receiver on the third ring.

    “Hello?” I said.

    I heard a lot of fuzz and a stream of chatter in the background.

    “Hello?” I repeated.

    “Hello? Hello?” came a man’s voice.



    Well, this could have gone on all morning. I figured it was a bad connection, what with the spit of rain we were having in California, or maybe a wrong number, so I hung up and hung around near the phone eyeing the bed and then crawled back in.

    The phone rang.

    I threw back the covers and swung an arm around and picked it up.

    “Hello?” I said.

    More fuzz, more background noise, and then:

    “Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    The accent was from India, the words clipped, the voice sounded official. I had no doubt the man was calling from Microsoft technical support.

    “Yes?” I said.

    “There is a virus downloading on your computer.”

    “What?!” I sat up.

    “There is a virus downloading on your computer.”

    “I don’t believe you,” I said.

    “Oh, yes, ma’am. You can see with your own eyes.”

    That made sense. I mean, who else’s eyes would I see with?

    “Why are you calling?” I asked, cutting to the chase.

    “You have a virus downloading…”

    “No I don’t.”

    “Yes, ma’am. You can see with your own eyes.”

    I hung up. I was all the way awake now, so I stayed up and started making the bed. I thought about the likelihood that my computer might be downloading a virus at that very moment, when the phone rang.


    “Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    “You are not,” I insisted.

    “Oh, yes, ma’am. I am. I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    “You’re lying.”

    “No ma’am.”

    I hung up. I refused to believe the calls were anything other than a scam. I got dressed.

    The phone rang. I snatched it up. “Hello?”

    “Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    This was starting to feel like harassment. This was starting to feel like I was being harassed by a man with an Indian accent in a room full of other men with Indian accents who were pretending to be calling from Microsoft technical support.

    “What do you want?”

    “You have a virus—”

    “Microsoft wouldn’t be calling me,” I said.

    “Yes, yes. I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    “This is a scam!” I yelled into the phone.

    “No, no, you have a virus.”

    “I’m having this call traced,” I said.

    Silence. He fumbled the phone and then mumbled, “Hang up, ma’am.”

    He was telling ME to hang up.

    We both hung up.

    I turned on my computer and stood back, waiting. It loaded the same desktop, the same screen saver. No virus.

    The phone rang.

    “Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    “You’ve gotta be kidding!”

    I slammed the receiver down.

    I called the police. The non-emergency number. The officer who answered put me on hold long enough so I could work up a good steam, and then he asked me how he could help and I told him I was being harassed by someone claiming to be from Microsoft technical support. I tried to sound cool, but I might have choked on a word or two.

    “Oh, I get those calls too,” he said. “It’s a scam. Don’t give them any information.”

    “That’s what I thought,” I said, puffing out my chest a little. No sucker here. I hung up.

    The phone rang.

    I answered. “Hello?”

    “Hello? I am calling from Microsoft technical support.”

    “This is a scam,” I stated.

    “No, it’s not!” He sounded desperate. “You have a virus—”

    I hesitated before hanging up. It occurred to me that this man might be sincere, that maybe, just maybe, this man had a small family in India, and no means of support, and along came a huckster from America passing out flyers saying that Microsoft was hiring customer service reps to sell a useful product to protect innocent people from vicious malware. Maybe this family man picked up one of the flyers on the street, and hurried to stand in line at some nondescript building, and sat down for an interview, straight-backed, his eyes eager, hands clasped in his lap. Maybe he walked home that afternoon with more bounce in his stride, knowing he could buy food for another month.

    Maybe, just maybe, this man was being scammed too.

    Then again, maybe I was scamming myself by believing this theory.

    I hung up.

    I picked up my keys and headed out the door. The answering machine would listen to his story if he called again.

    So far, he hasn’t.