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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.


  1. Laura Neacsu says:

    hahahahahaha even though I read the title, I was not expecting the ending! Brilliant!! 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    You’re fun. Thanks for the laugh. I kind of needed it. Not that I’m laughing at you. See…I’m laughing *with* you because, um… Beeeeeep.

  3. Joan says:

    This is hilarious!!!! I love this! Great job, Diane!!!

    • Diane says:

      Thanks Joan! I’ve been researching stand-up comedy for my novel, as my protagonist wants to be a comic. So I’m experimenting with writing my posts like a stand-up routine. I’ve always wanted to try stand-up, so here’s my chance. Except I’m sitting down.

  4. Bun Karyudo says:

    I loved the comic spin you put on it, but the underlying situation must be so annoying! Of course, even if you do eventually find out whose doing it, there’s always the danger of copycat cases.

  5. Raili Tanska says:

    Beeeeeeep…….beeeeeeeep…….it’s the fax machine from Adelaide Australia looking for its mate…. beeeeeeeep!!!

  6. Jason says:

    Brilliant! It must be painful to be stood up like that. I guess if it continues you could take an online course in speaking fax. Then you could give it a piece of your mind next time it calls: ‘Go fax yourself motherfaxer!’

  7. Dave says:

    Hilarious!….It remind me of the 1st. Star Trek movie where an American satelite from the late 20th century believed to have been lost reaches a vast machine world somewhere in the universe. The machines take the satelite’s mission to learn and understand the universe to heart and builds a vast complex to learn all that can be learned. The crew of the Enterprise including Captain Kirk, Spock, and McCoy encounter a machine complex in space known as Vger, but which in reality is a repaired and advanced version of the old Voyager Satelite. A visitor is sent to the Enterprise. The visitor appears human but in fact is a very advanced machine with molecule sized microprocessors. The machines feel a need to fullfill the program of Voyager and upload all their data to their “creators.” Because of this, the Earth is threatened with destruction. With the aid of Kirk and human ingenuity, the data is able to be uploaded and humanity is spared…………Maybe you’re ground zero for this scenario to actually happen?……..Or maybe I watch to many movies…Beeeeeeeeeep!…….

  8. Sue says:

    Maybe it’s trying to tell you to communicate more, to reach out into the void. Maybe it’s an offer of capital improvement funds to expand your breadbox. Maybe it’s the squirrels, and they’ve figured out how to tap into your phone line…forget caller ID!

  9. Pearl Allard says:

    Diane, girl, you are so gifted. Gut-busting funny. I got a bonus ab workout tonight. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your gift, sweet friend! LOVED this.

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