Hang­ing on for a smart tele­phone

Friday - - HUMOUR -

Icame rush­ing out of the bath this morn­ing. No, the house wasn’t on fire. It was some­thing worse. It was the phone, and a voice urg­ing me to buy a plot of land. It sounded sus­pi­ciously like the voice that last week urged me with equal pas­sion to in­vest in in­sur­ance. Maybe the voices had gone to the same school for pro­fes­sion­als. Maybe it was the same voice moon­light­ing dur­ing out-of-work hours.

It is pos­si­ble that word had got around that I had never bought any­thing as the re­sult of a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion, and I was now the tar­get for new­com­ers seek­ing to make a mark in the in­dus­try.

“You get that guy to buy in­sur­ance, take a trip abroad, sign up for a plot of land, or­der the En­cy­clo­pe­dia Bri­tan­nica, or pick up the lat­est mo­bile phone, and your fu­ture is as­sured. You could even take over my job,” I can imag­ine the voice’s boss telling her. Just the kind of chal­lenge that in­spires young­sters who would like to skip a few rungs on the lad­der in the race to the top.

On sec­ond thoughts, I would like to buy a mo­bile phone though. One that an­swers such calls on its own with­out my hav­ing to jump out of the bath. Or cut short my lunch. Or pause in the midst of whis­per­ing sweet noth­ings.

I have a few ideas for the kind of stuff the phone should come pre­loaded with. Here are some: “Press 2 if you think you are speak­ing to a sucker who will spend a for­tune on buy­ing a plot of land on the ba­sis of an anony­mous tele­phone call,” it can say, adding, “Press 4 if you are will­ing to hold on for the rest of the day while the owner of this phone plays a round of golf, at­tends a cou­ple of meet­ings, vis­its the theatre, spends time at a birth­day bash and re­turns home in about, say, 14 hours.”

‘Press 3, and keep on press­ing un­til all the ice in the north­ern hemi­sphere melts’

Or: “You have reached my house. Now please hang up and I will not call the cops.”

Or: “Please pay at­ten­tion while I re­cite the com­plete works of Tol­stoy.”

Or: “Press 3, and keep press­ing it un­til all the ice in the north­ern hemi­sphere melts, and af­ter that press 5.”

Or: “I have been in­structed to ad­vise you that any­thing you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, on the equa­tor or on any planet that be­gins with the let­ter M.”

Or: “Yaeeeeeee…” (a high-pitched whis­tle that re­ar­ranges the cells in a caller).

I recog­nise that call­ers have to earn their liv­ing. But what about my fun­da­men­tal right to an undis­turbed, re­lax­ing bath?

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