I have a new best friend whose name is Heather. Heather calls me a lot. I’m not sure how she got my cell number, but I’m pretty sure she’s had me on speed dial for the last several months. It’s unclear where Heather lives. At first, I thought California. But sometimes she calls from Michigan or New York or Alabama.
It’s hard to know where Heather’s really from, because she has no trace of an accent. Michigan sounds like New York, which sounds like Alabama. Which we all know isn’t true in the real world, despite the fact that some of us these days talk more like the TV weatherman than like our grandparents. Heather’s voice is a lot like Siri’s, who is also one of my closest friends. But that’s a subject for a column all its own.
Heather desperately wants to help lower the interest rate on my credit card or extend my car warranty or, because I’m a senior citizen who lives in a high crime area, install a home security system at no cost to me. The problem is that when I try to tell Heather I don’t have a credit card or car warranty and that–although I’m old enough by some measures to be called a “senior”–I don’t live in a high crime area, she won’t listen. She makes me jump through all kinds of hoops, sometimes in more than one language, to try and remove my name from her list.
When that’s finally done, I feel better. But the relief is short-lived. Within a few minutes, she’s calling again, this time from another location.
Last week, I’d finally had enough. Heather called twice while I was pedaling my bicycle up a steep hill. Then she called while I was sitting at my desk in the quiet, try to write a column. The final straw was when she woke me up from the rare luxury of a Saturday afternoon nap. I immediately googled DO NOT CALL—CELL PHONES. Here’s what I learned. The “Do Not Call” Registry is operated by the Federal Trade Commission. You call the same number (888-382-1222) for both cell phone and land lines. You must call from the phone number you wish to register. If you’d rather register online (donotcall.gov), you’ll have to respond to a confirmation e-mail. Once registered, your phone number stays on the list until you cancel the request or until the number is disconnected.
Yep, except that it can take a month to go into effect. The good news is that, in the few days my number’s been on the list, Heather hasn’t called even once. The bad news is that I now have a new best friend. Her name is Amy and she lives in New Hampshire. Amy wants to help me overcome my addiction. To what, I’m not sure. I hang up before she gets to that part.
(March 5, 2017)