Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spam Callers: the Middle Child Dilemma

     I am a prime target for spam callers. I see a number I don’t recognize pop up on my phone, and I start to get anxious. “Don’t pick it up,” I tell myself. “It’s spam. You know it’s spam,” I remind me. And I totally know I’m right. It’s probably that cheery lady who scares the shit out of me every time she calls when she says she’s from my credit card company, but then assures me everything is okay however “time is running out to take advantage of these great rates.” Or it’s likely that guy from some mysterious tech company who creepily claims to know “there’s something seriously wrong with your computer.” I hope it’s not the guy who greets me with a “Hi!” so lifelike and with just the right amount of pause built in before he says anything else that I actually say hello back and then feel totally demoralized when I realize I’m conversing with a machine. They’re the worst. Or it could be that woman who keeps calling me from Belarus. I know it’s one of them, or someone else I have absolutely no need to speak with. So I’m not going to take the call. Not gonna do it.
     But then my Middle Child insecurity kicks in. What if it’s not credit card lady, computer dude, that really friendly robot, or my Slavic sweetheart? What if this number I’ve never seen before is someone I actually do know? Maybe they got a new number and the very reason they’re calling me is to let me know that if I see this number, I should know it’s them, and not some spammer. Or maybe it’s someone I used to know. Maybe it’s an old childhood friend who has spent hours upon hours and tracked me down after all these years and desperately wants to reconnect. I’m just going to ignore their call after all the hard work they went through to find me? That’s messed up! How would I feel if someone did that to me? As you might have guessed, pretty terrible. With each ring, the doubt builds and temptation grows until it’s too much for me to resist. And that’s how they get me. Every. Single. Time.
     It’s quite pathetic, but totally understandable. It’s also nothing new. This goes all the way back to when I was a child -- before cell phones were even a thing and were just some crazy idea on “The Jetsons” or “Get Smart.” Back then, I was obsessed about getting mail. I wrote in a previous post about how I was always writing letters to politicians, tourism departments, television networks -- even NASA -- just so I could be assured of receiving a daily dose of postal attention in return. I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could check the mail. There were even days when I pretended to be sick just so I could be home when the mail arrived. So is it really any wonder that I have a hard time not answering when my phone rings, even though I know there’s no reason to?
     If I’m being totally honest, I actually look forward to those calls. I like engaging my new spam-calling buddies. “Where are you calling from?” I’ll inquire. “What time is it there? How’s the weather? Can you hold on a sec while I finish eating dinner?” If they offer to call back at a more convenient time, I’ll insist it’s no bother while chewing loudly into the phone. One time, my imaginary meal got caught in my throat and I had a raging faux choking attack. That was fun.
     I particularly enjoy flipping the script on my newfound phone friends. After answering questions about everything from how many cars I own to how many TVs are in my house, I asked one curious caller if he would now answer a few questions, then I proceeded to inquire about his TV viewing habits, home ownership, airline preference, and more. He actually was answering my questions, until he got so frustrated he told me -- wait for it -- “I don’t have time for this!” And he hung up on me. I thought that was particularly ironic.
     While most people happily sign up for the “DO NOT CALL” list, I'll pass. Instead, telemarketers will probably place me on their own “DON'T BOTHER CALLING THIS GUY ” registry. But I hope not.

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Middle Children need to be heard!