US Tour Summer 2009 – The Downside of Recycling

NB.  I’ve had some previously unpublished blogs from the US tour this summer that I’ve decided to release into the wild. They’ll be appearing here over the next couple of days. Hope you enjoy!

A few years ago, a pen-friend – or the modern email equivalent – from the US tried to explain how her life was being ruined by calls to her phone looking for some lady of ill-repute.  I struggled to understand exactly what was involved (and failed) until recently.

Over here, in the US, the phone companies recycle telephone numbers.  Seems sensible, doesn’t it?  Especially when you consider the massive population, and the natural limits of phone numbers that fit the current format.  (Since writing this I’ve seen The Wire, and understand even more how disposable phone numbers are!)

The Grotto have one of these recycled numbers.  They’ve been receiving calls for a few months now looking for a Bob Jones [not real name!], let’s say.  Most of the calls are from pharmaceutical companies calling Bob and urging him to refill his prescription.  This seems like a bit of an annoyance, but survivable right?  Wrong.  In the US, phone companies charge you not only for the calls you make, but also for the calls you receive!  So every wrong number or unsolicited call ends up costing YOU, the victim.

Kev and Mick had filled me in on this insane situation, and we just hoped that eventually people would stop calling.  We had no evidence to back this hope up, but we thought it best to be positive.

One day, the guys receive a call from a store leaving a voice message for Bob, that he should pick up a package left in the store for him.  The guys finally have a link.  They seize the opportunity and call him back to explain the situation.  They ask the shopkeeper to ask Bob to call them back if he comes in to collect his package.  Not five minutes later the famous elusive mysterious Bob is on the phone.  He walked into that shop just after the guys had phoned.

In a way we’re all a bit star-struck.  These strange connections that you can make in the 21st Century.  I should note that at this point we’re in a cabin in the woods of Ohio, near Kent University.  (The CSNY song “Ohio” was about the shooting of four students at an anti-Vietnam protest by the National Guard at Kent University.)

Bob explains that he got rid of the number because he was getting incessant calls from pharmaceutical companies, and no matter what he tried, he couldn’t get off their databases.  Kev and Bob discuss life and the music business, and make arrangements to meet in New Jersey at the Red Bank show.  We sit in wide-eyed “incroyable” disbelief after that phonecall for the remainder of the evening.

2 thoughts on “US Tour Summer 2009 – The Downside of Recycling

  1. you only get charged for calls you make and receive when you are on a “No Contract” plan, i believe. Like pay as you go etc.

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