‘Twas Not Rachel, Bridgette or Carman

Yesterday, I blogged about the robocalling robo-women, Rachel, Bridgette and Carmen… told how the persistence of these scammers… their flat out refusal to take my “no” for an answer… has ruined my life… has gotten me to the point where I actually dread answering my landline phone.

My true story, in this day’s post, points out why we must never permit these vile entities to sour our view of our world…

‘Twas in the waning days of December ‘15, when my phone rang. Glancing over at the clock… it was still well before 9 p.m…. so… the window of opportunity for more robocall abuse was still wide open. I had even considered letting my answering machine field the call… but…

Just before the fourth ring I picked up the handset… time seemed to freeze. Palpable was that moment of hesitation, both the caller’s and mine. Then I heard a female voice. No, not that damned robovoice… this was an actual, living, breathing person and she softly, tentatively, was asking to speak to someone.

It had been a dozen years since I had last heard my 89-year-old, late mother speak and the caller’s inflection was so close to hers that… if I hadn’t known better…

Well… suffice to say… I knew she was on in years. I hadn’t quite heard her all that well so I asked her to repeat the name of who she was trying to reach. I then informed her she had reached the wrong number.

Normally, I’d have simply hung up at that point … yet something told me not to. She went on to tell her story… how she had so wished to chat with a dear friend of hers that holiday season… and now… she’d not be able to.

Hearing that tugged at one of my heartstrings.

It hadn’t been all that long ago that I had been there for my aging and ailing parents. In keeping with that same spirit, I told her that I had a phonebook… that, together, we might be able to figure out what was wrong.

I asked her to spell out the first and last name, provide the address and city, etc. Turns out her friend now resided in my lifelong, small hometown and, oddly enough, even lived on the very same street where I had dwelled the first seven years of my life.

There went that second heartstring tug.

Leafing through to the correct page, my first try was to no avail. When I told her I was coming up blank, she sounded more dispirited than before. That’s when I spotted another, far less conventional phonebook on my shelf… this one listed residents by the streets they lived on. I told her I was not ready to give up.

Lo and behold I had located the person she had tried to call. It turns out she had transposed a couple of numbers in the street address and, as for the phone number, itself? While the last four digits were identical to mine, she had an incorrect three digit prefix.

As I read all the valid information to her, she muttered that her pen wasn’t working too well. I told her to take her time and then slowly repeated everything. She was profuse with her thanks and we wound up warmly wishing each other, “Happy Holidays!”

I had no sooner hung up than the deeper significance to what had just happened started to sink in.

I had made friends with a complete stranger…

And had her to thank for restoring my belief that… in spite of all the robocall abuse I had been experiencing (and still am experiencing)… the telephone still plays a vital role in creating a vibrant, close-knit global community.

Consider for a moment the social isolation, which Rachel, Bridgette and Carmen have caused. Undoubtedly… their harassing robocalls have forced us to view our telephones as something evil.

Personally, I cannot help but wonder how many genuine calls I may’ve missed when… in my efforts to avoid robocalls… I had totally stopped answering my phone for over one month.

The robocall has also become one of many reasons why people are cutting the cord to their landlines and relying on cellphones.

Cellphones, which are usually turned off… have unlisted numbers… cut us off and isolate us even further from our world… extinguish our, for the common good, spirit.

“Peace on Earth and goodwill to (wo)men!”

That is the spirit, which should run high… not only during the December holidays… not only in one’s hometown… but on each and every day in every corner of our world.

The robots, Rachel, Bridgette and Carmen are trying to take all of that away from us… and we cannot… MUST NOT… ever allow that to happen.



Rachel, Bridgette & Carmen

In the beginning… the phone caller, Rachel, had seemed innocuous enough… her robo-message first offering a lower credit card interest rate and, next, presenting the options of pressing #1 to talk to a live operator OR pressing #3 to be removed from her calling list.

Since I generally do my damnedest not to carry a credit card balance, I knew I’d not likely qualify for that rate reduction. So… logically… I pressed the #3.

Silly me! I had naïvely taken at face value that businesses believe that time is money… i.e., they don’t want to waste time dealing with folks who don’t want to do biz with them. One of the biggest mistakes I had every made in my life! Unbeknownst to me…

I had just signed the death warrant to my peace of mind.

You see, the way this all works is pressing #3 will NEVER remove anyone’s phone number from their list… it merely confirms that they’ve reached someone who they can hound to death… till death do us part!

I’ve even tried pressing the #1 to calmly explain to these live, brain-dead, scammer operators that I have no balance… to plead with them to delete my phone number from their list.

Most of them just hang up. However… there was this one operator who, amidst her wicked laughter, snottily assured me that I’d now be getting even more calls! And, while it is her biz to scam and lie… in this one and only case… she was not lying…

They’ve now stepped up their barrage to the point where I am getting up to three calls per day, every business day and sometimes even on Saturdays. By my calculation that amounts to approximately 500 times per annum… all of this needlessly, pointlessly wearing out both my nerves and answering machine.

Of course, Rachel has been retired for sometime now… BUT… her “sisters” Bridgette and Carmen have both been all gung-ho about filling in her robo-shoes.

Which all begs the questions…

1. WHY are they doing this to hundreds of thousands of us who will never do biz with them?

2. WHAT part of our collective, monosyllabic, two letter word, NO, do they not understand?

3. HOW could our hanging up hundreds of times per year NOT clue them in that it’s time to stop calling?

4. HOW can they ever expect to do biz with anyone who loathes them? I cannot speak for all… but I never patronize any establishment which flat-out disrespects me.

5. WHAT the hell else could possibly be in it for them… other than their being sadists who get off on inflicting psychological torture?

Folks, I used to work in the service industry. I had met customers on a daily basis for three decades. In all that time, no superior of mine (and I’ve had many) had ever needed to explain to me that no one can ever successfully force customers into buying.

And even if a salesperson, somehow, ever did manage to force the sale, there’s always a high price tag attached. Eventually, customers will resent you to the point of either returning ISO a refund or never coming back to buy from you again.

Getting back to the here and now… since directly dealing with these robocallers has not stopped their harassing calls…

I’ve taken the following steps…

I’ve confirmed that I am still up to date on the U.S. Government Do Not Call Registry. Of course, that is meaningless to any robocaller, who is barely operating within the law in the first place.

I’ve complained to my phone company. They’ve tried some call blocking technology… all to no avail.

My phone service provider has offered to change my phone number… but I’ve opted out. I asked them how that could even work when these callers have automated tech that, in a short time, can dial every possible permutation of the 0 – 9 digits? I mean… sooner or later Rachel, Bridgette and Carmen would find me all over again.

I’ve considered cutting the cord on my landline and sticking with my cell… but even get these calls on that device. Furthermore, cell service is not as reliable. I think back to the summer of 2003 when the power-grid crashed blacking out most of the eastern U.S.… and that, of course, had taken out the cell towers, too.

I tried passive resistance by shutting down my answering machine and not picking up my phone… for over one month. At first the phone would ring a dozen or more times, each call. Well… eventually… my phone’s ringer and I did get some much-needed relief and rest.

But… I had no sooner concluded that they had given up on me… no sooner declared victory re my own private war against these telephonic terrorists when… within the very first hour after reengaging my answering machine… the very first recorded message was from them.

Folks, I’ve reached the point of frustration and desperation…

…going so far as to, in one instance, pressing the #1 to swear at the scammer! And guess what? That bastard gleefully stayed afloat in my “sea of blue”.

And so… Bridgette and Carmen continue to “feel” their relentless, fatal attraction to me. These days… I don’t even say “hello” anymore when I pick up my phone’s handset. As soon as I hear one of their names… I hang up.

To get real, here, about the only things about that damned landline (which are still mine) are the monthly bills… which means I am actually paying for my own torture…

And that… folks… has thoroughly nasty ring to it.