Everything is a mess; this is common knowledge. Here is my Exhibit A … of Part 422, Section XVII, Subsection 3: Telephones.
A few months ago, I started getting more telemarketer phone calls than usual, most looking for a woman named Joann who it appears was on the verge of getting Medicare, thus needing Part B supplement insurance. (Non-Americans: Don’t ask. It’s really stupid, as is the rest of our health system.) I did a web search and found that at least one company that aggregates personal information had connected my cell phone number with a Joann someone-or-other. How, I do not know. Was there a way to correct this? I don’t think so. Maybe the website that showed this error had a correction feature, but how do you prove a negative? Especially, how do you prove a negative without getting sucked into the clutches of the data aggregators?
I don’t know how anyone trusts any of the data from these services, to be honest. For several years, I could find my half-sister and her husband in them, happily ensconced in their Romulus home with a phone and everything … until I did a search in Ancestry.com and found them there, which meant they were DEAD. My half-sister passed in 1988, and her husband followed her in 1991. (We, um, had not been close.) I guess if you’re skip-tracing or whatever, you’ll take any leads you find, and resign yourself that most of the leads will be useless. But how do you have personal information in a database in the 21st century on people who didn’t make it out of the 20th? I know how, as a former database editor, and the answer is “incompetence.” Anyway.
Now we’re at the crux of the story, which I have titled “Why I picked up a call from a ‘Restricted’ number.”
Well, see, I know better than to do that, but I’m expecting a call from my CPAP supplier, and they have at least one person who calls from a number that comes up in Caller ID as restricted. I have no idea why, but there it is. Today, I got a call and Caller ID says “Restricted,” and I picked it up anyway, in case it was that person.
Unfortunately, I heard the usual telemarketer clicks and realized that I have made A Grave Mistake. It was a woman calling for “Joann.” I said they had the wrong number, but she goes on “Well maybe you can help me.” I said I was busy, She said she’d be brief. She went into a spiel about the Police Officers Association of Michigan, and how they want to send me a donation packet so they can continue their work to strengthen laws against criminals and support police.
At that point, annoyedly, I said, “I don’t want stronger laws. I want reform.”
She tried to say that this is what they’ll do, but I know their idea of reform is not my idea of reform, and I said so. Then I followed that angrily with “And I have to get back to my job” before I got into how I want black people to not be victimized by the police, and I want just drug laws, and so on. She pretty much said “whatever” and hung up.
Coworkers heard this. (Coworkers can hear you blink in this cubicle farm.) They were all supportive, if dismayed that I picked up a “restricted” number (until I explained why I did). They even overlooked the F-bomb I threw. I have great coworkers.
But now I’ve made the fatal error, because the paid solicitor who called knows this phone number will reach someone, and soon I will end up with calls from the Police Sergeants of Michigan and the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Dogs Beneficient Society and Donut Bakers For Michigan’s Officers and whatever other cockamamie outfit that tries to give a softer face to the creeping fascism planting its boot on our necks.
And I STILL haven’t gotten the call from the CPAP place that I need so I can get the new mask that I was going to get in JUNE. I am so, so very unhappy.
Telephone service in 2018 is just so stupid. I hate the people who think you can just grab any phone number and match it up with any person and call it good. I hate the specific private company that makes calls for the POAM. I hate that I can’t really use my phone for its purpose because so many companies around the world have decided telephones are for inconveniencing individuals if not outright ripping them off. It’s not the same category of evil as, say, looking the other way when a despot has a journalist killed and dismembered in an EMBASSY, of all places, but it’s a banal, everyday sort of evil that grinds one down nonetheless.
If I could go back in time, I would go visit Alexander Graham Bell as a youngster and convince him to go into painting and not telephone inventing.