Friday, September 14, 2012

"Code Identification Number, Please"

The interesting little cartoon shown here to the left is circulating the Internet. I've seen it several times on Facebook.

When I first saw it, it reminded me of the slow-motion days of dial-up access. Remember how great we thought it was to get a 28k modem? I was infected by the Internet bug early, and enough so that my wife tired of the telephone line being tied up when she tried to dial home. We agreed to make changes, and luckily, I won. We went to the telephone company for a second line. It was cheap in those days, maybe $12 a month, and by some quirk of administration, it wasn't listed in the telephone book.

Like another friend's primary home line, though, it was one digit different than a local pizza outlet. My friend solved her problem of having to repeatedly explain wrong numbers -- Well, what is the number of Pizza Palace anyway? -- by simply accepting the order. I suppose she assumed anyone who could look up the correct number to order dinner didn't need to eat anyway.

On the other hand, we kept a handset on both telephone lines at our house, even the one meant for modem-use only. It often rang, that line. Since I could tell the difference between the sound of its ringer and that on the main line, I didn't rush to answer it.

On occasion, however, I would be sitting at the desk reading or writing, not on-line, and the line would ring. I would answer, mostly out of curiosity, and it was invariably, We'd like a super supreme, large, and some breadsticks, or some such order. Usually, I'd simply say, "Sorry, this isn't the pizza restaurant."

One day, though, perhaps I was in the middle of the latest Tom Clancy, I whimsically decided to answer a ring differently. 

"Identification number," I said, in a quick, sharp tone.

"What, umm, what'd you say?"

"I cannot proceed without identification number."

"What? Is this the Pizza Palace?" 

"No names. Secure line. Identification number mandatory."

"I just want to order a ... "

"You're violating protocol. I must have identification number to proceed."

"But ... "

"I must have identification number or the call will be terminated."

"What are you ... what's goin' on?"

"Call is being terminated."

And then I hung up the phone. The woman didn't call back. Maybe she looked up the correct number. Maybe she thought she had reached the CIA or a secret agency of some sort and tried to explain it to her husband. I would have liked to have heard that.

I did that four or five times over the period we had two lines, before DSL came to our neighborhood.

It was more entertaining and far less expensive fun than the time my wife wanted to call her mother via our AT&T phone card and accidentally misdialed "1 + area code" and ended up talking to a woman in Switzerland.

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