In which we revisit and update two of my favorite rant topics, idiot drivers and telemarketers. May there be a special level of hell reserved for the both of them.
Here’s the scene: 101 Freeway, southbound (by which I mean headed due east, but that’s a different rant) through Westlake Village. 55 mph zone and there are a fair number of vehicles filling the four lanes, but we’re moving along at 55 to 60. The #1 and #2 lanes are both pretty well packed, with a couple of late-returning holiday campers blocking my view of the #1 lane. #4 lane is full heading off into the distance. I’m in the #3 lane with cars behind me, but no one ahead of me for quite a ways.
Coming up behind and on my right in the “exit only” offramp (#5) lane is a dude in a fast, hot car. He has apparently cut off into that lane with no intent of exiting, floored it up to about 85 in order to pass a dozen or so cars, then cut back into the #4 lane at the last second before the exit. There’s no place to go in the #4 lane, so he cuts off the guy in back of me to pull in behind me. There’s no place else to go but he can see lots of open road ahead of me, so he honks once and then starts flashing his lights at me.
He’s obviously someone Very Important and he’s driving a Very Hot Car. Who am I to stand in his way? I bow to his Importantness and his car’s Hotness, signal, and move over into the #4 lane. As expected, His Very Important Lead-Footedness floors it and is doing about 90 by the time he gets clear of the campers in the #2 lane.
Oops! I’m sorry. Did he not see the CHP patrol car in the #1 lane on the other side of those campers, “leading” the “parade” of cars doing 55 to 60 in the 55 mph zone? I guess I just assumed that His Very Important Lead-Footedness knew about it and wanted to drive like an idiot anyway.
The Los Angeles Times had an article yesterday about how the FCC is proposing to change the rules to make it much easier for telecommunication companies to identify and block robocalls and telemarketers. (For convenience and brevity, “robocallers and telemarketers” will heretofore to be referred to as “LTWS,” as in “Lower Than Whale Shit”.) Not surprisingly, this is the number one complaint that they get from consumers.
The technology exists. If you get your phone using VOIP, there are programs which will detect the program at the originating end as an LTWS tool and simply ignore it. Apparently the FCC rules as they stand now are ambiguous at best and most telecoms believe that they are not allowed to do the same for POTS & conventional landline phones.
The FCC is changing this, so that soon (please, please let it be SOON) PacBell or AT&T or Verizon or whoever will be able to offer a service (I’m sure we’ll pay for it, but it will be worth it in my book) so that LTWS calls simply never ring through to your phone. It might not be quite that simple – you might have to block callers one by one as they come in, or possibly “whitelist” numbers that you will accept calls from. But the bottom line is that the local phone companies will be able to jump into the battle to block LTWS calls.
I’ve speculated before on the best way to deal with LTWS calls. Ignore them? Simply pick it up and then hang up? Take out your frustrations and practice creative cursing on them? See how long you can keep them on the phone to waste their time? Try to derive some entertainment from simply screwing with their heads?
This last offers some great opportunities for creativity. I always think, “WWRWD?” (What would Robin Williams do?) Pretend to not speak English? Make odd, bodily function-ish noises at them? Parrot back everything they say? Ask them to repeat something more slowly because you’re taking notes for your FBI report and you didn’t catch that part? Lead them along while occasionally tooting your vuvuzela at them? (“Tooting your vuvuzela” is not a euphemism, by the way.) Pick any Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, or Lily Tomlin character and answer their questions in that voice and character? Switch between characters at random? Start asking them pointed questions about their favorite sex toys and alternative uses for them?
The list goes on and on, but yesterday I got a LTWS call right after reading the LA Times article. My brain went into a completely different direction.
“Hello, I’d like to speak to Paul. Is this Paul?”
I respond with a guttural, Neanderthal-like grunt or two.
“Sir, I’d like to talk to you today…”
“The FCC’s coming for you,” I said using my low-pitched, deep “radio voice.” Think Billy Bob Thorton in “Sling Blade.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“The FCC’s coming for you. You’re all going to jail!” Punctuate deep radio voice with high-pitched, maniacal laugh, then back to radio voice with weird, indeterminate accent. “FCC’s gonna gitcha, boy!” Grunt again a couple of times, then work your way into your best evil villain, mad scientist, “Mwwaaaaahahahaha!!” laugh.
When I’m paying PacBell $1.50 a month to block the LTWS calls, there might be days when I actually need a call or two like this to respond to, just to cheer me up. Maybe there will be a service that allows you to let LTWS calls through for the next twelve hours, for use in just such a situation.
For an additional $1.50 a month, no doubt.