Aug 102016

I’m not very good at communicating verbally.  I tend to speak quickly, not think before I speak (unlike the extensive thought I put in before typing these sure to be award winning posts), and I have a tendency not to give a Norwegian rodents posterior if what I say offends somebody.  Hint:  It usually does.  I can say a lot more in a few paragraphs on this here blog than I can speaking to somebody, so as a result, I tend to be a bit quiet when I’m out and about.

Some people perceive my quietness the wrong way.   Some think I’m shy…ok, a little.  Others think I’m standoffish…yeah, I could agree there.  Even others perceive it as being subservient or lacking in confidence.  Wrong on those two counts!   The fact is, I hate talking to people.  At least verbally.  People have a nasty habit of taking what you say the wrong way.  They miss the point of something.  Or don’t understand the humor.  Nothing like the whooshing sound a joke makes when it goes over somebody’s head.

Anyways, I prefer to communicate the non verbal way.  Email, text, snarky posts on Facebook or Twitter, and of course here on the Fritter where I can let loose and not worry about insulting anyone.  So, as you may well guess, I don’t like talking on the phone.

I guess I learned to hate the phone from years of sitting behind a parts counter and having to answer said phone all fucking day, every day.  Nothing was worse then trying to pry some usable information out of some clueless idiot on the other line who could not verbally communicate exactly what they wanted.  When I was working in the motorcycle industry, it was even worse because it was so busy and no matter what I was doing, no matter how important (important as perceived by the management.  I could give a shit.), I had to stop and answer the damn phones.  Usually said calls involved pissed off customers, angry customers, customers who were not happy, and the clueless.

Once, whilst working in a scuba diving shop, someone called and asked, totally serious, if we repaired diving boards.  “No,” I said, “Not that kind of diving.”  Another called and asked, again, totally serious, if I had the answers to the Florida State Driving Test.  I do now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, but back then?  No.  Remember, I was working in a SCUBA DIVING shop.  You know, snorkels, fins, underwater.  As you may well guess, I drank heavily back then.  Fact Pulled Out Of My Ass:  Most hardcore drunks you see in bars work retail.  If you are contemplating a career in retail, be prepared to drink a lot.

And it’s not limited to just customers and the clueless.  During one stint in a motorcycle shop I got to be the screener for all personal calls as well as business calls.  One coworker was having an ongoing feud with his girlfriend, whom would call repeatedly and hang up, just to piss us off.  It did.  I finally told said coworker to get her under control or his wife would be getting said calls forwarded.

So now, I rarely use the phone.  If I can somehow communicate by the wonders of the internet, rather than have to make a call, wait on the answering machine, go through the damn menu options because they recently changed, and avoid actual human to human verbal responses, I do so.

I’ve managed to eliminate most if not all phone calls except for immediate family and a very select group of friends.  I posted about this recently when I finally dropped Sprint and went to a pure wifi iPhone.  I obtained a Skype number for way less money, bought a few minutes, and so far it has been working out great.  I wasn’t getting many phone calls to begin with, but now, I get hardly any.  Most corporations are also realizing talking to people is a waste of time when one can say a lot more in a quick email or text.  Except for the robo calls which are especially prevalent now thanks to some election going on.

The place where I am staying is apparently on every call list in the world because the damn phone won’t stop ringing all day long.  Most of the calls are spam or robo calls advertising worthless shit or asking for you to vote for some worthless shit.  I added the number to the do not call registry but it’s a waste of time.  Most of these companies don’t care or they are based out of the country so they don’t have to follow the laws.  It’s all programmed into a computer so the human element is taken out.  You don’t dare answer to bitch, moan, whine, nor snivel, because it just tells the computer there is a live person on the other end and the phone number is active.  So, more calls will ensue.  The best one can do is just ignore the incessant ringing and move on.

As I said though, the Skype number is working out more better.  Less money, fewer calls, but, a minor problem has come up.  Many companies and government entities are tightening the security to access their websites and your accounts.  It used to be a password was sufficient to keep things secure.  But people, being people, have trouble remembering passwords so they use easy to remember passwords like 123456 or ‘password’.  Brilliant.  Hackers have gotten real good at said hacking so more layers of security have been added.  Captchas, those irritating little letters and numbers one must copy exactly, or answer your three personal questions.  Favorite car, place of birth, name of the first ex girlfriend you buried in an unmarked grave, you know, things you can remember easily.  Still the hackers get in.

Now the popular method of security is called the multi factor security.  When you log in you still have to enter your login and passcode, but the website now sends you a text with a special code which you must copy and paste to get into your account.  It works pretty good provided of course you can accept said text message.  As it happens, a Skype number cannot accept text messages.  Despite all the advances in technology, Skype has chosen not to have this feature with the phone number you have purchased.  So, the day I got locked out of an important account, because I was unable to receive the magic code via text, I started doing some internet and this is what I found.

There are other places where one can purchase an online phone number besides Skype, and they have said numbers which are capable of receiving and sending text messages.  I looked at several and the one I am currently playing with is this…Pinger Text Free Web.  Pinger Text Free Web allows you to get a phone number and accept and send texts.  They have a nice and handy app which you can download onto your phone so you have the ability to text at will.  Did I mention it was free?  Yeah, it’s free.  Unless you want to add some features.  You can text off your free number but not make verbal calls.  A win/win situation as far as I’m concerned.  You can buy minutes so you can talk if you wish.  I have not as of yet, preferring to use the Skype number.  And, you can pick the area code you want.  Add in whatever zip code you desire and Pinger gives you a list of numbers with said area code to choose from.  Downside, I now have two phone numbers but it kinda sorta works out for now.  I list one number as my home, the other as business, switching back and forth between the two just to mess with people.  I’ve had Pinger for a few weeks and it seems to work just fine.  I can get the needed text to get into the accounts which employ multi factor security, and all is right with the world.  There were other options similar to Pinger but it seems to work best for my needs.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Would it not have been more better to just keep the Sprint account and use the cell phone?  Yes, probably, but, I now spend nothing every month for a phone I hardly use.  (I still use the iPhone heavily, just not the telephone feature).  The Skype number costs $60 a year, buy a $10 block of minutes now and then, and nothing else.  I was spending over $90 a month with Sprint for the same service.  Big savings in money.  For someone like me who rarely talks on the phone, it’s an ideal setup.  Less cost, fewer phone calls, no big hassles.

All this won’t stop the robo calls where I currently live, but I won’t be living here forever.  I’ve managed to come up with a fairly simple solution and saved myself a ton of money going forward.  Now when the new iPhones come out, I will have saved enough to pay cash for a new one.

Any questions?  Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Capt. Fritter

  2 Responses to “Make The Phones Stop!…”

  1. When I get one of those menu option things I just punch zero. Nine times out of ten that gets me a live person.

    Politicians are exempt from the Do Not Call list. Surprise; surprise! If a call is from someone not on my contacts list, I just don’t answer it. Of course, half the time I don’t even know my phone is vibrating (I turn the ringer off) so I don’t always answer calls from people I DO know. Oops.

    Your current Captcha got easier once I realized it didn’t care if the letters were upper or lower case. No more shifty letters for me.

  2. I didn’t know that about the captcha! thanks linda.

    I spent 20 years in a reservations call center for state parks and resorts.
    one day a lady called totally IRATE and wanted to talk to somebody in charge.
    I was the call center manager.
    she wanted to know WHY we did not put a sign up telling people there were ticks in the woods.
    I kid you not.
    I do not like phone talking either. had my fill of it.