Friday, December 19, 2014

Dude, Randy Must Be A Dick.

It turns out that phone books can hurt you even when all you do is pick them up off your step, curse quietly, and recycle them, never to see them again, until some hapless time traveler prints a new edition because surely you need it

But here's the thing: we have booster seats for children, and they invented door stops a while back, and it's rare that all of the Internet breaks down at once, so unless you have just a driving need for kindling, no one needs a phone book anymore. We have Google, and iPhones, and we don't need to look up local businesses or neighbors in the yellow pages anymore. That whole process actually sounds painfully outdated just writing about it. 

Phone books are useless and don't need to exist anymore, is what I'm saying. 

But they do, and when a new tri-county phone book showed up on my deck the other day, sad and full of the knowledge of its own purposelessness, I didn't think anything of it, other than that the printer had handed me several thousand tissue-thin pages and cried, "YOU recycle these!" rather than just doing it themselves. I tossed it in the bin and moved on. 

Then my phone - my cell phone, because landlines are for old people or people who...don't have cell phones? Do those people exist? - rang, late one night, in those beyond-witching-hours when people with day jobs need to be sleeping in order to avoid hate-murdering anyone in their office the next day. Since my ringtone is an incredibly loud rendition of the Thundercats themesong, I spun and thrashed around in my blankets as I woke up enough to answer. 

"Rrrmngffello?" I slurred into the phone. 
"RANDY?" a loud, violent, incredibly loud voice shouted back at me. 
"Ow. What? No." I answered back, holding the phone at arm's length. 
"IS THIS RANDY?" The lady was really, really angry at Randy, and I think she thought I was protecting him somehow, like maybe I was gonna stall her here on the phone while Randy booked it to Mexico. 
"No, there is no Randy here," I said again. 
"FUCKIN' RANDY?!" She was determined that if Randy wasn't there in the dark with me at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, that I should somehow become him. 
"Listen, no, there is no one named Randy here." I tried to sound reasonable. I felt like I was talking someone down off a ledge, or out of a loaded, cocked shotgun aimed at some poor dude named Randy. 
"IS THIS 719-???" She proceeded to recite my phone number to be, correctly, and then waited, huffing pissed-offedly into the phone. 
"Yeah, but there's no Randy here," I said again, increasingly confused, and still kind of asleep. 
"Oh." Suddenly, she was quiet. She sounded disappointed, like a lion that had been cheated out of some tasty gazelle by some asshat named Randy. "Okay," she concluded, and hung up.

I stared at my phone for a moment like it had become a foreign object, and then I put it in sleep mode, so nothing but my alarm could rudely jerk me from sleep again that night. 

The next morning, I had two missed calls, one from the same woman who so desperately wanted to talk to/viciously murder Randy, and one from another number I didn't recognize. 

Now, I used to teach 7th grade, and my classroom didn't have a phone in it, so many students had my personal number in order to reach me for homework help, or in emergencies, or whatever. Some of these kids have not, in years past, been above the odd late-night prank call. Last summer, some kids called me about six times in a single night asking me really, really cliched crank call questions, like, "Is your refrigerator running?" except they shout them really fast and giggly because they're thirteen and bad at conversations. After a handful of calls, angry sleep Avalon shouted into the phone, "Unless you little heathens are on fire and I am the only person in the whole world who can help you right now, fucking stop calling." Which was admittedly not the most awesome thing to say to someone who was probably one of my former students, but I was working a summer job where I was on-call round-the-clock, and I couldn't silence my phone in case there was an emergency I needed to respond to, and I really wanted to sleep. 

So at first, I thought the late-night Randy lady was just one of my kids who had planned out a really elaborate prank call, and that I had derailed it somehow from its intended path. 

But the calls kept coming. Every other day or so, I'd get weird calls from numbers I didn't recognize, and while I let most run to voicemail, only a few left messages, all confused-sounding and looking for someone named Randy, who seems to be a universally reprehensible person, and who people seem to need to reach fairly desperately. After about three weeks, I stopped answering my phone for callers I didn't know, and just checked the first three seconds or so of voicemails to see if they were actually for me. If I got through the first moment without an angrily shouted, "RANDY-," I kept listening. Then I got the most interesting call of all. 

Beep. "Hello, Ms. Manly, my name is Joleen, and I'm from Echo Pages. There was a printing error in a recent edition of the phone book, and your number was mistakenly printed as the number for Patriot Bail Bonds. We'd like to talk to you about changing your voice mail to redirect callers to the correct number, and perhaps purchase your phone number. Give us a call." 

So that explained a lot. 

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