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Ring-a-Ding-Ding #coldcalls #junkcalls #ringtones » Jolana Malkston
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Aug 032018

These days, we all are on the receiving end of more telephone calls than we would like. The most annoying are the political calls, fund raisers, and cold calls—junk calls for the most part.

I can screen calls on our land line using Caller ID and an answering system. Unfortunately, I cannot stop the phone from ringing and driving me nuts while I am writing—or trying to write, as it were.The constant calls play havoc with my ability to concentrate on my work in progress. MG insists I check and answer the ones I’m not sure of just in case it might be an important call. Only once has that occurred. All the rest were unwanted intrusions. Seriously enraging are the junk calls that come up on Caller ID with my local area code but are actually from out of area. Surely the phone companies can do something to combat that.

It takes every ounce of will power to keep from yanking the phone cable from its terminal and throwing the phone against the wall each time my train of thought is derailed by an unwelcome caller. The only card I have to play is to report the offenders and their phone numbers to the Do Not Call Registry website. I can report cold callers, such as the credit card “customer service” people for whom I am not a customer. They promise they will reduce my fee rates, etc. If I press a number on my phone, they then promise to take me off their list. They never do, of course. They keep right on calling, and always from a different phone number. May Alexander Graham Bell taunt them with incessant cold calls in the afterlife.

What is extremely unfortunate is that one cannot report political calls. Legislators conveniently exempted themselves from the Do Not Call Registry. To cover their obviously self-serving hind quarters, they threw in an exemption for certain 501c charitable organizations in an attempt to put political parties on a par with charities. The ruse fooled no one and aggravated legions.

Not long ago, junk calls began polluting our cellphones as well. That is especially annoying when I’m driving because I have the calls set to come through Majel’s Ford Sync system—hands free. Driving with the maniacs on the road is frustrating enough. Having to deal with junk calls in addition is too much of a distraction.

Fortunately, yes, fortunately, my iPhone 8Plus is smart enough to help me out. There is a setting that prevents calls, messages, and alerts from coming through to annoy me while I’m driving if I enable that setting. I definitely enable that setting.

I have devised a helpful plan to screen calls and messages on my smart phone when I’m at home writing as well. I found an app titled RoboKiller that intercepts and answers junk calls and calls from people or groups not in my Contacts. The app’s recorded answers are hilarious and designed to keep the caller stuck on the phone wasting lots of time to discourage them from ever calling again. I haven’t received a junk call on my iPhone since installing that app. That means fewer interruptions of my writing time. Yay!

In addition, my iPhone 8Plus allows me to assign specific tones for calls or text messages to individuals in my Contacts so I may recognize their identities should I choose to answer. I went ahead and assigned tones to my family and close friends. I treated them as I would characters in a novel when I made my choices. I analyzed them and selected their specific tones based on the personality traits, likes, and activities that defined them. Clever, wasn’t I? For example:

My Firstborn is an Eagle Scout and Cub Scout Cub Master. He does a lot of hiking and hill climbing with the Scouts. He is also a computer geek who works in the IT field. As his ringtone, I chose Summit. For his text message tone, I selected Electronic.

His Little Brother is a former jock and a fun-loving, laid back, good ole boy. His other favorite pastime is writing hilarious rants on Facebook. I chose Playtime for his ringtone and Input for his text tone.

MG was a piece of cake. He has been a car fanatic his entire life, buying and restoring classic cars and collecting model cars. He loves to snack between meals, and his very favorite snack of all is buttered popcorn. Can you guess the tones I selected? Yes, I thought you’d guess them. I chose Old Car Horn for his ringtone and Popcorn for his text tone.

I thought the Old Car Horn tone was cute, just like the car horns in the old-time cartoons. Ooga-ooga, ooga-ooga. The sound is so funny.

Well, I thought it was funny until the first time MG called me while I was out grocery shopping. Every shopper’s head turned in my direction when my iPhone blared like an old Model T’s horn in the frozen food aisle. I couldn’t answer it fast enough. I mean, I literally couldn’t answer it fast enough. It was buried deep down in the outside pocket of my shoulder bag. I couldn’t pull the dang thing loose right away so I could make it stop its embarrassing ooga-ooga, ooga-ooga racket.

Sometimes a writer can be a little too clever for her own good.

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