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caller identification

August 10, 2009

I am all for advances in technology.  Heck, I am in love with video chatting since it allows me to see my sister while she is recovering thousands of miles away.  But there are some aspects of technology that I’m not very happy with right now, namely caller ID.

I fully see the advantages of being able to see who is calling before answering a personal call.  I appreciate being able to screen my calls when necessary, but a part of me misses the mystery that was once present when answering the phone.  Gone is the excitement of trying to figure out who the voice on the other end of the phone belongs to.

Plus, people rarely announce who they are anymore.  Instead, they immediately dive into a conversation, assuming the answering party is aware of who the caller is, without giving said  party a chance to gather their thoughts.  There is a beauty in the old-fashioned etiquette and the exchange of pleasantries that is lacking in the ultra-casual of the current times.  I’m not saying every single telephone conversation needs to be formal, but allow the level of friendship to dictate what is proper.

But those reasons above are not why I currently loathe caller ID.  You see, I work as a receptionist at a very busy office in my hometown.  I enjoy my job, but lately people have been making it difficult to remain patient.  I have the following conversation countless times a day:

Operator: Good morning/afternoon.  (Name of business).  Where may I direct your call?

Caller: I don’t know.  Someone just called me from that number, so I’m calling back.  Do you know who called me?

Operator: I’m sorry I don’t know.  We have about a hundred people in this office.  Did they leave a message?

[Here the conversation can go one of two ways]


Caller: I think they did.  I didn’t listen to it yet.

Operator: I’m sorry I have no way of knowing who called you.  Perhaps if you listen to the message, you can find out who it was.

Caller: Ok.  I’ll call you back.


Caller: They didn’t.  Where did I call?

Operator: (Repeat Name of business with description of type of business).  If they didn’t leave a message, it was probably a wrong number.

Caller: Oh, I don’t know why anyone would be calling me from there.  Do you know?

Operator: Like I said, we have about a hundred people here at the office.  I have no way of know who called you.  It was most likely a wrong number.

Caller: Well what should I do?  I don’t know why someone from there would have called me.

[Note: the other phone lines are ringing off the hook during this exchange]

Operator: If they didn’t leave a message, it was probably a w-r-o-n-g number.  If someone really needs to contact you, I’m sure they will call again.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

I try to be as polite as possible, but usually at this point, I hang up before they can ask any more questions.  I don’t understand why people have to know who called them.  I get strange numbers that pop up on my “missed call” list that don’t leave messages.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to call them!  Why do people have to call random numbers and harass the person who answers?  What if it was a private number?  A person mis-dials a number, hangs up once they realize it, only to have the wrong number call them back and give them a hard time!

Last week was a long week of wrong numbers.  Today wasn’t any better.  Hopefully tomorrow will be.  If it’s not, I’m at least praying the operator will find a reserve supply of patience.

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