One ringy dingy, two ringy dingys….

Some of you are far too young to remember Lily Tomlin as Ernestine, the telephone operator, on the TV show Laugh In. Ernestine spent her shift sticking chords in a huge switchboard to connect calls to each other with caustic snarky quips. One of her classic lines was: We’re the telephone company, and we don’t care.

For years mischievous kids delighted in making prank calls or worse. My elderly grandmother once received an obscene phone call. The male caller explicitly told her how he was going to ravage her body. My grandmother shouted into her phone: What? What did you say? I can’t hear you. Of course, the sleaze hung up on her.

Though we’ve come a long way from the antique switchboard and cell phones revolutionized the phone industry, telecommunications morphed into a new era of annoyance. Caller ID is more sophisticated; both my house and cell phone announce who is calling, but why should/would I answer a call from Anonymous, Unidentified, Private, or Unknown? Let alone some random place like Kodak, WV. Every once in a while, a message is left–usually, I’m going to jail for non-payment of income tax, my credit card has been compromised, or my computer needs updated. All scams. In the last several months, my cell phone has been receiving the car warranty expiration bull shit. I was so aggravated I decided to play along. “Oh, my car warranty is expiring? Which one?”

“You know, ma’am, your car.”

“No, I don’t know. Which car? I have over a hundred on my car lot right now, so which one?” He promptly hung up.

Unfortunately, some people fall victim to these scams, or why would we continue to get these calls? I know of one case where the mother of one of my friends received a call her grandson had been badly injured in a car accident in Mexico. Without cash, the life-saving surgery could not be performed. Sadly, Grandma wired $5,000 to the requested address. The next day, she called her daughter to check on Billy. “He’s right here, Mom. Do you want to talk to him?”

Hold on a minute, someone’s leaving a message on the answering machine…. Hallelujah! My mortgage has been approved! What mortgage? I didn’t apply for one. And secondly, no one lends money to an unemployed, old broad on Social Security. Mortgages must be the new scam.

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