Tag Archives: superheroes

Eloise Calls the Robo Callers©

“Ring.”  When Eloise Simplekins picked up her phone, a robot voice said: “Hello. This is Jan.  Congratulations! You qualify for ….  Please press ‘one’ now to speak to a customer representative. Press ‘nine’ now if you wish to be removed from the qualification list.”

“Fiddlesticks!” said Eloise, and clicked her phone off.   It was the sixth robo call this week.  She had tried hanging up, she had tried pressing “nine,” but a salesperson always came on the line anyway.  She had pressed “one” and told the person who answered to take her off their list.  The person didn’t answer Eloise’s request.  All Eloise heard was a  click and a dial tone.

Eloise Simpelkins is plain—beginning with her name and continuing with her squat chunky figure, her thick unruly hair, her flat face, her squinty eyes, and her pug nose.  But she is very smart.

Years ago Eloise became a pre-cleaning lady for the women of La Mancha, that rich part of town where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  It embarrassed the women of La Mancha to have their cleaning ladies see poopy toilets in their husbands’ bathrooms, so Eloise became their pre-cleaning lady. But she became much more.  These women ached to reveal their foibles to someone.  Eloise was there every week and seemed discreet. She became their confidant, and the women rewarded her handsomely.  She invested wisely and became a wealthy woman.

Robot phone calls irked Eloise, and after she became rich they irked her even more.  When she couldn’t convince the “you qualify for…” robot voice organizations to quit calling her, Eloise turned to Hadley Wilkins for help.

Readers will remember Hadley “Cyberman” Wilkins. He’s the electronic engineer who helped develop cell phone technology.

“Hadley,” she said. “I need your help.”

“Say on, oh Wise One.”

“I get six to eight robot calls a week,” she said.  “If I hang up, they just call back.   I press the button and talk to a live operator but they still won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  Hadley, I want you seek out the private phone numbers of the executives who run these robo-call outfits.   I’m going to give them a taste of their own medicine.”

“On it,” said Hadley.

Randall Egregious, the vice-president for operations at Techaly Communications, Inc., was relaxing in his den when the unlisted number on his cell phone rang.  The screen said “Mara Belle.”  Mara Belle Function was a Techaly  executive.  Egregious clicked on.

“Are you being pestered by robot telephone calls?” a robot voice asked.  “If you get robot calls seven days a week, please press one.  If you get robot calls…”  Egregious clicked the phone off, but the robo- voice continued talking: “If you get five or fewer robot calls a week, please press two,  if you get fewer than three  robot calls a week, please press star.  To repeat this message, please spell out “help,” on your keypad. ” Egregious hurled the phone across the room.  It slammed into the brick fire place and fell to the floor.  The robot voice continued to speak:  “If you are angry and frustrated and want to destroy your cell phone, please press the “tone” button.”  Egregious picked up the cell phone, ran outside, and threw it as far as he could.

He came back inside and turned on the television.  Instead of his favorite channel, the screen showed a television test pattern.  From the television speaker the robot voice intoned the same message.

Egregious ran to his car and sped to his office.  He called the company’s technology director at his home.

“George, this is Randall Egregious. I’m at the office.  How do I shut down the robot-call apparatus?”

“You can’t.  Don’t you remember?  You ordered us to create closed-circuit hardware and software that would, in your own words, ‘make robot calls forever.’”

Egregious clicked off and ran down the hall to the fire safety cabinet.  He yanked it open, grabbed a fire ax, ran back and smashed all the robot-call machines.

Then he scribbled, “I quit, Randall,” on a scrap of paper and taped it to the CEO’s office door.

-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia,  is available on Amazon. You can also visit his website at www.daydreaming.co

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Hadley Hacks A Hacker

Hackers cause all kinds of grief for cell phone users.

Hadley Wilkins was an electronic engineer who had helped develop cell phone technology. He hated hackers, so he decided to go after Henry “the Hulk” Histoid, the meanest, most intrusive hacker in the business.

But he decided to do his work not as mild mannered Hadley Wilkins, but as Cyberman, defender of the cell phone innocent and the digitally clueless.

Using his own genius software, Hadley lurked on the Hulk’s cell phone circuit. He watched and listened for a week as the Hulk did his dirty work on other people’s cell phones—listening to, and sometimes interrupting, their conversations. He also messed with their private cell phone files.

Hadley hacked into the Hulk’s file of personal phone numbers. There were lots of them. Hadley collected the Hulk’s personal data and credit card information. He already knew a lot about the Hulk’s buying patterns and e-the mail addresses of the companies he bought from. Hadley knew he could order all kinds of merchandise from online companies and catalog stores. He could even mimick the Hulk’s voice if the companies recorded the sales calls for verification.

When everything was ready, Hadley punched in the cell phone number that only the Hulk’s friends and close associates knew. The Hulk’s cell phone screen said the call was coming from “Amber.”

“Amber. Baby! Long time no talk,” said the Hulk.

Amber’s voice came on the line, and Amber’s face appeared on the Hulk’s cell phone screen, but the message was Hadley’s.

“I just called to say I never want to hear from you again, you jerk.” Click.

The Hulk dialed Amber’s number. He got a “caller blocked” message.

Panicked, the Hulk dialed his best friend Torgel.

“Torgel” answered the call with a happy voice: “Hulk, thanks for the hundred smackers, man.”

“What hundred smackers?” asked the Hulk.

“From your bank, Dude! They called me yesterday and said you’d gifted me a hundred dollars for my birthday. My birthday isn’t until next month. You’re the Dude, dude!” Then “Torgel” hung up. Torgel’s number rang unanswered when the Hulk tried to call back.

The same pattern was repeated for every friend and associate that the Hulk tried to contact: anger and denunciation for supposed insults, or warm appreciation for the Hulk’s generosity.

The Hulk called his bank and demanded that it replace the funds withdrawn. The cashier explained that the bank had the Hulk’s voice on a recording asking for the payments and declined to replace the funds. The cashier bumped the Hulk’s call up to the assistant manager who gave the Hulk the same message and bumped the call up to the bank manager who gave the Hulk the same response using the exact words the cashier had used. Then the incoming calls began.

“Mr. Henry. This is Art Larsen, World Wide Travel calling to confirm your trip day after tomorrow to Estonia. We expedited the visa process by paying the large surcharge that you authorized. Just give the airline your name and show your passport when you check in.”

“Mr. Henry. This is Ollie Olsen, from Peterburg Outdoor Outfitters. You can pick up your new all-terrain vehicle and your camping equipment anytime at our Southside facility.”

Panicked and distraught, Henry Histoid ran to his car, put his cell phone on the cement in front of a tire and ran over it. Then he went back inside and sat down with his head in his hands. A phone rang. It was the Hulk’s land line. He never used that line. In fact he had forgotten he had a land line. The phone kept ringing. Hulk finally picked up. “Hello?”

“Have you learned your lesson about the pain hacking causes?” asked the voice on the phone.

A crestfallen Hulk responded “Yes. Yes I have.”

“Good,” said the voice. “You are lucky this time. All those calls were as fake as the hack calls you’ve been making. The next time you hack a phone that stuff will happen for real.”

“Who is this?”

An announcer’s voice from a bygone era intoned:

“It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s CYBERMAN!” Click.

-30-

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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