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Don't Call Me and I Won't Call You. Asshole.
September 25, 2003 - 10:16 p.m.
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I once had a client in a custody case who told me that her husband, from whom she had separated, kept harassing her by constantly calling her. I told her that there's really not much she could do about him calling her, but she insisted that the phone calls were a serious disruption to her life. So I said alright, keep track of how much he calls you. Quite honestly, I was attributing her claim to a little bit of hyperbole, and I thought that asking her to keep track of it would be enough work for her that she'd forget about it.
The next appointment I had with her was about a month later. I asked her if she'd kept track of her husband's phone calls, and to my surprise, she had. She handed me a sheet of notebook paper, and I glanced at it. It had about thirty entries of times that he had called, but there were no dates.
I said that I didn't see any dates, and asked her if this was all the times he had called her the past month.
No, she told me. That sheet of paper, with about thirty phone calls, was just for one day. Then she proceeded to show me a stack of notebook paper with records for every day of the past month.
Every now and then, when I was representing domestic violence victims, where I a client would tell me something that made me think, I just can't comprehend how you can survive that situation. The record of the phone calls gave me one of those moments.
I think of her now because I've been getting closer and closer to understanding how awful the constant calls must have been for her. Because I'm experiencing something similar now. I'm not getting thirty calls a day- but I am getting about one per hour. And they don't come from an ex spouse.
But the phone rings, and I interrupt my work or my thesis, get up to answer the phone, and it's a damn telemarketer. And I hang up, and soon it happens again. And again. And I'm not a person with a temper problem, but by the afternoon I am so upset and frustrated that I'm slamming the phone down, swearing, kicking the wall, and just stewing for a long time after each call interrupts my life.
Whenever I hear a phone ring, I have a conditioned response that causes me to jump, and I feel my pulse speed up and I feel immediate loathing for answering the phone. When I watch television, and a phone rings on television, it does the same damn thing to me.
And I can't do anything about it. I have two phones to answer. One I use for business, I can't just ignore it when the phone rings. The other is my parents' home phone, and one or the other of my parents may try to call me from work. And especially with the health problems both of my parents have been having lately, I really can't risk missing an important phone call.
I had been hopeful that this new Do-Not-Call phone registry would be the blessing that prevented me from picking up a gun and going down to the local phone company for a good old-fashioned berserk killing spree. But now two federal courts have blocked the registery. I was inspired to write about how pissed off this makes me.
But then I remembered that I already wrote about the federal decisions this week. Except that I wrote about those decisions two months ago. For those of you who doubt my prophetic ability, read my prediction of the litigation and its outcome.
The first ruling came from a federal court in Oklahoma that ruled that the FTC did not have clear legislative authority to make the list. I haven't been able to read the opinion to see whether it's a good opinion or not, but either way it's a correctable problem. And Congress did something right for a change, and immediately, today, passed a new law that spells out the FTC's authority on a sixth grade reading level- clear enough that even a federal judge can understand it.
Then, also today, right after Congress passed the new law, a federal court in Denver ruled it to be a violation of the First Amendment. And this one is a maddening ruling because it appears to be correct. The reason it violates the First Amendment is because the do-not-call list doesn't apply to all telemarketers. For example, charities are exempt.
Of course, the answer to this is easy enough, but probably easier said than done. Congress needs to do the right thing, amend the law, and make it apply to everyone, even charities. But the problem there is that congressmen will be crossing core special interests that support them, and they are likely to give up.
Make them stop calling me! I don't want telemarketers to call me. I don't want charities to call me. It's not that I'm against giving, it's that I know that a heck of a lot of fraudulent charities use telemarketing and I prefer to give to those with which I am familiar. I am tired of getting up and interrupting my work at least ten times a day to answer these damn telemarketing calls.
I can't even yell at anyone on most of the calls, because they are on auto-dialers with recorded messages.
If I called strangers at random, criminal charges would be brought against me. Where's the justice?
And in a related bitch, does anyone else get 150+ unsoliticed e-mails a day? If I let more than 24 hours go without checking my e-mail, my e-mail box fills up, and inevitability after it fills someone who actually knows me will try to e-mail me and it won't get through.