Apparently someone named ‘Carl’ used to have my cell phone number.  The first thing that happened when my ‘pay & talk’ phone was activated was that I already had a message waiting.  I was surprised, because nobody knew my number yet, not even me.  It turns out the message was for Carl.  Of course the person who left it was asking for a call back, and assumed Carl knew his number.  He was the first of many.

Once in a while people do leave a number, and at first I called them all back to inform them that Carl no longer has this number.  It’s been tempting, really, to tell them all sorts of odd things; Carl is now known as Carlotta, Carl has left the country, Carl’s dead…  I tend to be more patient than most, so when the tax agency called and left a number, I called back to tell them they didn’t actually leave a message for Carl, since they called the wrong number.

Recently, I decided these are not really wrong numbers, they’re advertising opportunities.  I call back and tell them about my scifi novel, Been Blued, and the upcoming sequel, Martian Blues.  What are they going to do, hang up?  They called me first, the least they can do is listen.  If they give me time, I tell them to visit my web site,  If you don’t read science fiction yourself, it makes a great gift!

It’s getting to be time to replace my cell phone, it’s showing signs of age.  A few weeks ago, I wasn’t hearing the ring when I called people.  It’s stopped doing that, so now I’m not jumping out of my chair when the people I call actually answer.  I suspect the eagle on my screen would look better in color than the current shades of green and reception might be somewhat improved…but I like this phone.  It’s familiar, with its shape and weight, and the space it takes up in my purse.  I don’t particularly want something that folds in half, that I have to get used to all over again.  I’ve already had to buy a new handheld computer (I worked the old one to death…) and a new laptop.  At least I won’t have to get used to a new phone number.

While we’re on the topic, I for one, deeply appreciate the fact that the phone companies don’t get to switch your number simply because you buy a new cell phone.  It was a huge money maker, I’m sure, for the business card printers…everyone having to get new cards because their number had been changed.  Totally inconvenient for the public, as are many such useless money makers.  (Then people started printing their own cards.)  When I went to upgrade my previous phone, before the numbers ‘belonged’ to the people, my phone company wanted to charge me an extra hundred dollars to keep the same number, in spite of the fact that I would be buying a new phone from them.  It was at that point that I switched phone companies, and bought the phone I’ve got now.  It’s even been worth the Carl callers.  I just can’t figure out why they still leave a message for him when my voice comes on telling them they’ve reached PHYLLIS.  By the way, if you’re reading this, Carl, congrats on the new baby.  It might be time to buy junior a phone.

On a similar note, why do some big companies think they ‘own’ lists of names and addresses?  Says who?  It’s my name and my address and I didn’t sign up for a whack of junk mail from ‘Bonnies’ House of SeaBiscuit Bins.’  Part of the reason I primarily use a cell phone is because I don’t get telemarketing.

(On a side note, a huge thank you and flowers to GOOGLE for trying to reign in excessive internet advertising!  Some stuff a person wants, like my novels, but not the excess that some advertising maniacs try to get out there.  Advertising on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and one’s own site is one thing…)

To the companies that make money selling lists of names and addresses, I’d like to point out that a huge percentage of the resulting snail mail ‘spam’ gets tossed in the garbage, not the recycling bin.  You’re directly responsible for that waste.  If I want a product, I know where to look.  In fact, I’ll give you a call.

Thanks for reading.  🙂

Phyllis K Twombly

About Scifialiens

Author of the Martian Symbiont series: three titles, so far; Been Blued, Martian Blues, Martian Divides. Currently writing screenplays. 'Mating With Humans' can be found on her account. Enjoyed writing from the start. Also a Star Trek and Doctor Who fan. Canadian so far. Paternal grandparents were American. Feels more at home in the States. Loves dogs and most other animals. Loves cats from afar--allergies. Plays flute and saxophone; 'messes with' keyboard and electric guitar. Single so far. Not really looking at the moment. Age: irrelevant. Not to be confused with the fictional comic book character, Phyllis Twombly, who lived for 600 years in the American Midwest.

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