It’s official, the subtle art of dodging a phone call has been lost.
Most New Canaanites simply avoid answering the phone anymore, unless of course, it is the Office of Emergency Management calling with timely, critical information. We have all been burned far too many times to think that the person on the end of the line is truly who Caller ID says they are—I am talking to you, Somali Pirate, who has been trying to lure me into a phone conversation for months.
I remember the glorious moment when Caller ID first rolled out and became a standard operating feature. It was the dawn of a new day to gain the inside track on who had dialed. And, even more intoxicating was the power to decide whose call was worthy of picking up. Now, forget it—I am terrified of answering my phone because I am getting trolled by every robo-calling, telemarketing con-artist on planet Earth. I might as well put a live grenade to my ear as take a call from an unknown number.
If you caught a glimpse of my missed calls log, you would think I lead a pretty interesting life for a New Canaan housewife-slash-full-time-volunteer, or is that just my alias? It has been a good cover until now. According to the picture my phone records paint, I am an international woman of mystery, a globetrotting wheeler-dealer, and perhaps, a mafiosa with a man in every port. With frequent incoming calls from Slovenia, Belarus, Burundi and Lithuania, I should be far more intriguing, well-traveled and multilingual. Unfortunately, I am just like everyone else in New Canaan, a victim of ongoing telecommunications harassment from robots, scam artists and the occasional Somali Pirate.
Remember when selectively handing out your cell number was equivalent to a sly wink and a pat on the back to a trusted friend? For a brief time, my mobile phone was the last line of defense, insulating me from unwanted callers (you know who you are). Now, all hell has broken loose and my once “secure line” is a cellular superhighway for charlatans seeking to drive me insane with unprecedented offers, loans, and absolute gibberish in what I can only assume is Klingon.
Recently, and regrettably, I answered what looked like a local New Canaan call, only to find an irate woman from the Boogie-Down-Bronx accusing me of phoning her repeatedly. She refused to believe that I was not the responsible party and that we were both victims in the scam. I felt like I had a really convincing story, since I was actually innocent, but the lady was intent that I was her harasser. Seeing no resolution and realizing that I was dealing with the No-Backing-Down-Bronx, I hung up. I had to block her from calling me repeatedly to continue the argument. How the tables had turned. The combative exchange wore me out so much that I headed to the Verizon store on Elm to discuss the situation and look for answers. Long story short, there is no solution. This is the world we live in today and anarchy shall prevail.
Now that I have become fully conditioned not to pick up my landmine—I mean, landline—or my cell phone, every call must face the firewall of stubbornness that I have put up in defense. Even when caller ID indicates that Saxe Middle School or West Elementary School are ringing, I know better—it’s China calling or that lady from the Bronx who hates me. And, when a true emergency presents itself, like last week’s incident involving that unidentified child wandering at night in a diaper and socks, I am certain that many people let the initial alert and updates go straight into voicemail. I, for one, gave the Caller ID the side-eye when I saw the incoming call from the Office of Emergency Management. Thankfully, hearing Mike Handler’s smooth-talking, ASMR-worthy message shocked me into breaking my avoidance protocol and pick up.
So, if anyone really wants to get in touch with me, please send a text or an email. Or better yet, have the Office of Emergency Management track me down—I’ll take their call any day.