Became The Butt-Dial Of This Joke

, , , , , , | Working | August 2, 2019

Our office has an intercom system that has literally never been used except when it’s being tested. To broadcast over the intercom, you dial a phone number, and when you speak into the phone on your end, your voice comes out over the speaker.

When I get back from vacation, I hear this story: Out of nowhere, everyone could hear outdoor background noises, footsteps, and a woman’s faint voice coming from all around them. It was coming from the intercom, and it was the unmistakable combination of sounds you hear when someone butt dials you without realizing it. Somewhere on the planet Earth, an English-speaking woman butt dialed the intercom number and went about her day with her phone in her pocket or purse, not realizing what had happened.

While my coworkers tried to find someone in IT who actually knew how to disconnect this thing or find out where the call was coming from, they spent the day listening to this woman — wearing very loud clippity-clop high heels — chat with friends, shop for clothes — including trying them on — get lunch — quesadillas, yum! — etc. She was most likely in a city, since her heels were apparently hitting pavement as she went between shops.

After listening to her lunch, my supervisor said, “If she goes to the bathroom, I’m outta here!” No points for guessing what everyone heard almost immediately after that. My supervisor did indeed take a walk as soon as it was obvious what was coming, but from what others told me, that section took a very long time…

Nobody was able to tell me how it eventually ended — many of them finished for the day and went home before it did! — either by someone in IT finally cutting it off, or by the unknown radio star finally needing to use her phone. Even if she saw her phone had accidentally dialed a number, she would have no way of knowing it connected to an intercom and not another phone, so she will never know that an office of strangers listened to everything she did one afternoon, and we will never know who it was.

When I heard about it, I suggested that it might have been a prank, but even though others agreed with me, I decided not because a prankster would’ve made them listen to even more uncomfortable things, like the sounds of stopping for a quickie with hubby or something. The stuff was too mundane, if briefly gross, for it to be anything but unintentional, I think.

Regardless, we can learn two important things from this incident. One, for everyone: be mindful of your phone and what it’s doing behind your back. Two, for our IT and telecommunications department: rethink the intercom design.

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What The *BEEP* Are You Talking About?

, , , , | Friendly | July 25, 2019

(This is back in the days of landlines and touch-tone phones. For those of you unfamiliar with this technology, in our area of the US at least, after initiating a call, you could press the number buttons on a landline and the corresponding would sound in the earpiece of the person on the other end. Also, the longer you pressed, the longer the tone. I call my best friend and his sister answers. We’re all around the age of 14. I’m known for messing with my friend’s siblings…)

Friend’s Sister: *answers phone* “Hello?”

Me: *BEEP*

Friend’s Sister: “[My Name]?”

Me: *affirmative BEEP*

Friend’s Sister: “[Friend] isn’t here right now.”

Me: *sad BEEP*

Friend’s Sister: “I’ll have him call you when he gets back.”

Me: *happy BEEP*

Friend’s Sister: “Bye.”

Me: *BEEP*

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If That Was Really Him You’d Be Over The Moon

, , , , | Related | July 23, 2019

(My dad is a teenager, watching live news coverage of the moon landing. The coverage then shows a split screen with President Nixon in the Oval Office picking up his phone to call the astronauts. At the exact moment, his home phone rings. As he goes to pick it up, my grandma yells:)

Grandma: “Tell them that this isn’t the moon!”

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Stephanie Is The Victim In All This

, , , , | Right | July 22, 2019

(After moving into our home, we receive occasional phone calls asking to set up a hair-styling appointment. A little online research shows that our new phone number once belonged to a local hair salon. The salon went out of business many years ago, but some online business directories still have the listing. For almost all the callers, telling them that they’ve reached a private residence is enough; they apologize and hang up. One caller refuses to accept that:)

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Yeah, uh, this is [Caller], and I need to make an appointment.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but this is a private residence. We’re not a hair salon.”

Caller: “But I need to get my hair done.”

Me: “Wish I could help, but that salon is out of business. We just got their phone number.”

Caller: *apparently referring to their computer* “But this says you’re open! I need to get my hair done next Thursday.”

Me: *giving up* “Okay, fine. What time next Thursday?”

Caller: “Between 10:00 and 11:00, but I’d like Stephanie. Does she still work there?”

Me: *just making stuff up now* “Yes, she does, and you’re in luck; Stephanie has an opening at 10:30.”

Caller: “Okay, that’ll work.”

Me: “See you then!”

(I am curious where the caller went that day, but I never heard from her again.)

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Getting The 411 On The Situation

, , , | Working | July 6, 2019

(This happened in the 1980s, at which time phone numbers were only available through phone books or through directory assistance — 411. By this time, 411 calls were no longer completely free. Instead, one got maybe five free 411 calls per month, and could request two phone number on each call. After that, you were charged for each 411 call. I was trying to arrange certain outdoor activities, and was, therefore, seeking the phone numbers of various facilities, such as state parks, YMCA camps, etc. When one looks at a street map — as this was well before the likes of Google Maps — one can’t necessarily tell what town such a facility is located in. The typical 411 calls went something like so:)

Operator: “Directory Assistance. For what town, please?

Me: “I need the phone number of [Facility] which is near [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “Sir, I will need the name of the town that is in.”

Me: “I don’t know the town, but the closest town on the map to it is [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “Sir, I cannot look up the phone number without the name of the town.”

Me: “Don’t be silly. Directories in this state are by county, not town. [Nearest Town] is in [County] County, and that’s all you need to look it up.”

Operator: “Sir, I need the exact name of the town it’s in!”

Me: “Fine. Give me the phone number of [Facility] which is in [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “That number is [phone number].”

(Then, the operator HANGS UP without letting me ask another phone number! After a few such calls, all pretty much with the same conversation, I get pissed because I am going to have to PAY for 411 calls when I should get two numbers on each call. So, I contacted the Board of Public Utilities with FULL details of what has transpired on these calls. It turns out my state has a very effective BPU. Within a few days, I get a phone call from a phone company manager that goes something like this:)

Manager: “Hello, Mr. [My Name]?

Me: “Yes?”

Manager: “I’m calling about your recent complaint to the BPU. I’ve investigated your claims and found you to be completely correct. The same thing happened to me several times when I called Directory Assistance and tried getting such phone numbers. I will reverse any 411 charges to your account and [Phone Company] will be retraining our directory assistance operators so this doesn’t happen again!”

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