I’m getting out of bed when a call comes in. I hate morning phone calls. We don’t have a phone in the bedroom, and as it happens I’m in the middle of getting dressed.
The phone number is unfamiliar; it looks like a telemarketer. I need to double-check that our number is still on the do-not-call list, but I suspect it’s not going to matter. Some time ago while scoping out health insurance options, my wife gave some info to a company that was going to get us a quote, only to have it turn out to be a company that gave our info to lots of other companies trying to get us quotes, and they’ve been slamming us ever since with offers for both health and dental insurance. Lately it’s been dental. I am so going to destroy these bait-and-switch spammers someday.
There’s an odd sound on the line when I answer, like a tone, but it doesn’t last very long. For all I know it could just be the connection, but it’s a bad sign. I say “Hello” and no one answers. “Hello?” I say again.
“Hello,” says a woman’s voice—but, I think from the sound quality, not actually a woman. “This is Susanna. How are you today?”
Curious. Are they naming robots now? Or is this actually a real person on a low-quality line? The connection noise could be typical call center stuff. Maybe I can’t rule out that there’s a person at the end of this line. The last dental call was a robocall, and I hung up. I want to at least be somewhat nicer to a person, even a telemarketer, because it’s in my nature. I tell them sorry, we’re not interested, and if they keep yapping then I hang up. I’m polite like that.
But speaking of polite, Susanna seems to be waiting for me to respond.
“Uh, I’m all right,” I say cautiously.
“Great.” The subtle shift in line noise indicates I’m hearing a recording after all. “The reason for my call is that we’re offering low-cost dental—”
When I become a supervillain, I will outlaw almost all robocalls—not just in the here and now, or more accurately the there and then, but retroactively for all time. Transgressors will be allowed to state a case for amnesty. The only exceptions will be automated calls from a service you use like a pharmacy. Special offers, debt collectors, and especially scammers will be sent packing. And the streets will be crunchy with the broken silicon bodies of the autodialers.
And, oh, Susanna? Don’t you frell with me. ‘Cause I’m comin’ ’round your server with a crowbar and a bat.