It had been occurring over and over again for several days, a strange number that claimed to be from Virginia calling my cell phone constantly. Without fail the number would call once or twice a day, never leaving a message. Such phone calls I usually ignore, but after the tenth time, and in a fit of anger, I answered the phone. The caller claimed to be from an “auto processing center” and assumed I was such a rube that I could be taken in by their clams about my car—which is entirely paid for.
I lost my cool, and I began to yell at the person on the other end of the phone. It was one of those big rant filled sessions, ending with “don't you ever dial this number again!” The downside of digital technology is that you hang up with the touch of a button, you no longer have the great satisfaction of slamming a receiver down on the phone so hard you make the bell ring. Pleased and satisfied, I went on with my day.
As the day progressed, I found myself with babysitting duties for my ten year old cousin. The two of us were spending part of the afternoon doing one of his favorite activities at my house, a two player round of that 90s video game classic “Zombies Ate My Neighbors.” We were at the tense chainsaw level of the game, during which concentration is an absolute must. Right as it seemed that we were finally about to make it through the game's nerve wracking level at long last—my phone rang.
It was the same dreaded number that had been calling me over and over. If there is a direct connection between the hours I spent as a child watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the influence it had on me, it would be that once I have been pushed beyond the point of anger, I too decree “Of course you know this means war!” I had simply had it with the nosy “auto processing center” and their insistence that I be duped into their crap.
My policy to deal with these deeply annoying people was to try to out crazy the crazy, and terrify them into never wanting to call my number again. This time I said “Hello” in a clam and collected voice as I answered my cell phone. I waited for the voice on the other end to start the yammer of being “so and so” from the “auto processing center.” As they began their speech, instead of saying anything else, I began to sing “Weird Al” Yankovic's classic tune “I Lost on Jeopardy.”
The stark silence on the other end of the phone was palpable. One could sense that it was a feeling of terror, confusion, and “they didn't prepare me for this.” What impressed me most is that the person on the other end didn't hang up immediately. Instead I made it all way through the second verse of the song, and was right towards the end of the second chorus when I heard the other person hang up.
I sat my phone down, much to an amused and slightly bewildered look from my cousin, and we returned to our game. I was proud that I scared the hell out of some crazed telemarketing group, and to date that number has yet to have called my phone again. Much like many aspects of life that can seem frustrating or downright annoying—the answer is always “Weird Al.”