There is nothing more irritating than sitting down to dinner and being harassed by a robo-call. You know, those annoying sales calls that are pre-recorded and don’t even have a human at the other end of the phone. At first, you think you are talking to a person until you try to interrupt their sales pitch and they don’t stop talking. In disgust, you slam down the receiver and return to your cold dinner. I guess I could just not answer the phone during dinner, but I am a worrier and always fear that it might be one of my kids calling with a dire emergency. Therefore, when the phone rings, I jump over furniture and perform other amazing feats trying to get to the phone before the fifth ring, which is when it rolls over to voicemail.

A few weeks ago I was getting dinner on the table, which is always a chaotic time at my house. I must have a bit of June Cleaver in me as I refuse to eat until everyone is taken care of. At last, everyone had their plates and I had mine in hand when the phone rang. I glanced around but couldn’t find the phone. It rang again. Where was that blasted phone? Ring number three . . . I was running out of time! I spotted the phone clear across the room sitting on the couch. I made a mad dash for it and accidentally knocked over my large ceramic olive oil dispenser sitting on the kitchen counter, freshly filled to the brim with expensive, garlic-flavored olive oil. It crashed to the floor, red ceramic pieces flew everywhere and floated about on a sea of oil. The fifth ring was coming, the mess would have to wait! Diving toward the couch, I grabbed the phone just in time. I expected to hear one of my kids’ voices on the other end, but no.

“Hi, this is Stan, your local air duct cleaning man. I’ll be in your area this week…” I stood there turning a deep, crimson red. My head throbbed with anger. I hated Stan. The mess on my kitchen floor was going to take at least half an hour to clean up. Was Stan going to pay for my shattered oil dispenser? Or the oil? I decided to call Stan and give him a piece of my mind, but when I dialed the number on my caller I.D. it was disconnected. Needless to say, dinner was over for me.

I keep a whistle by the phone specifically for the most tenacious of telemarketers. You may be familiar with the group of scammers that are supposedly with Windows support. In a language that is almost unintelligible they inform you that your computer is broken and they will fix it, for a fee. The phone connection is horrible and sounds like they are calling from another planet. I let them ramble for a few seconds and then I grab my whistle and blow it as long and as hard as I can into the receiver. HA! They can't hang up fast enough. But now that sales calls are all going robotic, my whistle trick doesn’t work because recordings don’t have ears.

I was so frustrated by the incident with Stan that I began investigating how I could stop these calls without changing my phone number. To my surprise, I found the answer. It’s called “nomorobo”. It’s a free service that works with your phone carrier. Land line or cell, you can stop those robo-calls. You simply go to www.nomorobo.com and the website will instruct you how to quickly divert robocalls to a message that informs the caller that you do not accept unsolicited calls. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. Now if my phone rings once and then stops, I know that "nomorobo" has intercepted a pesky telemarketer. If it rings more than once, I know it is actually someone I want to talk to. On occasion, a charity call will slip through, but overall this great service has reduced those unwanted calls by 95%

I will still keep my whistle by the phone just in case the fake Windows support scammers manage to get through, but mostly I am hoping that one day I will finally talk to Stan in person. He’s going to need some new eardrums . . .

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