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Monday, April 12, 2004


Calls for John #1

Once upon a time, I hated cell phones. Then one day I Saw the Light. Why pay $20 for a land line? Standard phones don't allow you to make a call from the backyard, let alone while blocking traffic at a crosswalk. For a few dollars more than boring land line, I can rest assured, should the mood strike, I can place an order for a Rascal (walking is for suckers) while waist-deep in the ocean. These cell phone thingies truly are wonderful...thingies. If you don't like my driving while I'm struggling to change a CD while simultaneously ordering Chinese food that's your problem.

There's just one little thing. My phone number once belonged to a guy named John. When I turned my phone on for the first time, it immediately began ringing. I refused to answer it, fearing some pill-popping prophet would be calling. I later checked the voice mail. A little girl's voice was on the other end, asking questions about a bicycle.

A few surreal weeks later, I was quickly becoming John's answering service. Everyday I would get calls from his daughter, his ex-wife, various girlfriends, creditors and foul-mouthed business associates. After months of this, I finally decided to fight back. I put together a voice mail message of a man with a heavy accent struggling with English while a Nelly song blared in the background. Certainly this strange message would finally convince John's pals that they had the wrong number.

No dice. Despite the message, even more calls were coming in. I've never met this guy but I probably know more about him than his own mother. John is a bicycle and marathon enthusiast and he may or may not have two girlfriends. As the weather improved, I was now getting three calls a day from people asking him to volunteer for charity runs.

I learned to ignore the messages and hung up whenever the words "Is Jon there?" A year later, he still hadn't given out his new number...or so it seemed. Was this a "firewall" number given out to ex-wives, out-of-wedlock brats, coworkers and others he was trying to avoid? Was my phone a garbage dump for people he was trying to toss out? In a last ditch effort to put an end to this, I changed the message for a second time. It now goes a little something like this:

[In a scary hellspawn voice] You have reached the voice mail of BRAN-DON! If you leave a message at the sound of the tone you will most assuredly fill his weak little heart with joy. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH...[sound of coughing and hacking]

Simply put, this is the most annoying voice mail message in the history of annoying voice mail messages. Since only friends and immediate family members have the number, I didn't have to worry about an employer or distant relatives calling me...until yesterday.

I woke up on Easter Sunday with no less than 7 voice mail messages, all recorded between 8:45 and 9:00 PST. The first was from my elderly grandmother who lives in Georgia. The rest were from various aunts and uncles. One aunt, with an accent that sounds like Scarlet O'Hara's, had this to say "What's the matter with him? He sounds like Dracula, laughin' like that."

That does it. This Jon guy and his huge social circle have cost me a good deal of my monthly minutes and now they've alienated me from half of my family, putting a risk who knows how many future birthday checks and Xmas cards. My grandmother is now likely harboring a mental image of a grandson with a pentagram carved in his forehead.

Now I'm the sort of sociopath willing to put forth the effort of stealing John's identity or destroying his credit rating. Instead, I've decided to share with the world a few transcribed messages I've been saving for just such an occasion. I now declare this week Calls for John Week. Every day through Friday Blog will offer up a wayward message. Feel free to mock and/or pick them apart as you see fit.

Today's call is from John-boy's boss.

"Nice message, John. God! Um, this is your employer. (laughs) Here is your assignment, should you chose to accept it. Um, I need to come up with a name for these fender brackets that we have designed and have made in Taiwan. Something along the lines of full wood but, since they're not made out of full wood, we cannot use that. Something with a full little connotation, an inside jokes, but basically what I'd like is something descriptive as possible. It's for a split fender. We could incorporate something like that into the name. Descriptive, but something with a fun, little twist to it. Put your mind to it and, if you can, give me a call. No hurry. We'll see you later."

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