July 01, 2009

Caller ID- How Did We Ever Live Without It

The beauty of insomnia is that it presents you with great opportunities to ponder the really important questions of life. Instead of lying in bed wondering if you were played for the fool or working on a plot to take over the world you can focus on key issues like why cleveland will never win a championship in anything.

But if you are me you have already figured that stuff out so you move on to the great philosophical questions of our time and with laser precision wonder how life without Caller ID was possible. If you are of a certain age you remember a time when few people had answering machines, call waiting didn't exist and conference calling was limited to business.

And now all of those things are commonplace and expected to be part of regular phone service. Heck, long distance telephone calls are think of the past. You don't have MCI, Sprint or Ma Bell trying to convince you that their long distance service is superior any more.

Anyhoo, as those sheep went soaring over my head and across the room I thought about Caller ID and and the famous Star 69/*69 function. You know *69, that is the one that dials the last number to call your phone. I used to hate that one.

You see when I try calling someone I don't always leave a message. Sometimes people dial me back immediately and ask what I wanted. But the truth is that I really didn't want anything special. I was just calling to say hi and when they didn't answer I didn't feel like speaking to the mechanical silence of their greeting.

So every now and then I'll get a call back and we'll go through this silly exercise:

Caller: Did you just call me?
Jack: I did.

Caller: You didn't leave a message
Jack: I know.

Caller: Did you just call me?
Jack: I did.

Caller: Why didn't you leave a message?
Jack: It wasn't that important.

Caller: So why did you call?
Jack: I thought that we might catch up, been a while since we last spoke.

Caller: So why didn't you leave a message?
Jack: I just told you why.

Caller: How are we supposed to catch up if you don't leave a message?
Jack: I don't know, does Western Union still exist.

Caller: I am serious.
Jack: So am I.

Caller: But why didn't you leave a message?
Jack: It is one of the great mysteries of the universe like why would you live with a Dutch muppet.

Caller: That doesn't make any sense.
Jack: This conversation doesn't make any sense.

Caller: Why can't you answer the question?
Jack: For the same reason that I can't stop and ask for directions, because.

Caller: Now I am getting angry, don't be like this. Please answer.
Jack: I did answer, but you didn't like what I said.

Caller: No, you didn't answer.
Jack: How did a simple telephone call turn into a fight.

Caller: If you'd answer the question we wouldn't be fighting.
Jack: And if you had a penis you'd be a man or a wonder of science. I could market you on eBay and we'd be rich.

Caller: Now I am definitely angry
Jack: Don't be, penis envy is really unbecoming. Besides you have no idea about how much trouble these things can be.

Caller: Some people might find that funny, but I don't.
Jack: Have I ever told you that you are the most beautiful woman in the world.

Caller: Many times.
Jack: What an ego.

Caller: You always say that if it is true than it is not bragging.
Jack: Good to see that you listen to some of the things I said. Now how about listening to me now.

Caller: I will, just tell me why you called.
Jack: Fine. I called to say that it has been far too long since have spoken, but you are off doing your thing and I tried to respect that. Since you turned my world upside down I can't figure out how to turn it right side up. But I am not about to beg. You know how to find me. If you miss me, you'll do the right thing. Besides, you are madly in love with me and until you accept that you are going to go off half cocked.

Caller: What the hell does that mean?
Jack: It means that I just accused you of having penis envy again, not to mention said that you are short, illogical and crazy. And I already answered virtually every question you have.

Caller: Sometimes I...
Jack: Not sometimes, all of the time, but I won't hold that against you. Me, I'll hold against you, but that other thing, not so much.

Caller: Don't you understand I...
Jack: I understand it all. I just don't accept nonsensical answers. But let's move beyond that, have I told you how much I dislike the star 69 function.

And from there we progressed into a discussion about Caller ID. I said that I used to dislike it. My fragile male ego didn't like the idea of people screening their calls. What do you mean you don't want to speak to me.

However, over time it has grown on me and now I find that I really like it. This also explains why I need to go to Costco to return the phones I purchased from there. Or actually it offers a partial explanation of why I am going there.

The full explanation is that the Caller ID function on the telephone no longer works. So while twenty years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about who is calling, now I am irritated. Yet another example of how technology has improved my life right into more frustration.

Coming soon, my rant about the Betamax and why the D.H. is an abomination.

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