How easily they give up

I love how ‘Capital Day’ is always fun in The Dominion Post: you can’t believe the mileage I got out of its story implying that I could fix Wellington’s weather earlier this year with a fluxcapacitor. I even think it got me a few votes from people who didn’t see the irony (or the impossibility).
   Today, the story is equally funny, but in a different way. The bit they didn’t tell you is that the newspaper could not reach me on a private number (how they got it, I do not know), and had been advised that its reporters should not call it again if they actually wanted to reach me.
   Apparently, someone called that very number and now it’s a story!
   I have an outgoing message saying something along the lines of: if you aren’t with my campaign, work with me, a close friend, related to me, or my girlfriend, then hang up and don’t leave me a voicemail or SMS. It asks the caller to call me on my actual telephone number, which everyone else on the planet seems capable of dialling and having a conversation with me.
   It’s also true that I take around eight weeks to reply to voicemail messages left on it, usually because I have to find out from Telstra what the mailbox number is. But when you’ve had (probably fewer than) 20 cellphone voicemails in your lifetime to date, the need to remember that number is not a priority.
   When I am in Wellington, I almost never carry a cell, hence the discouragement. (I made more exceptions during the campaign.)
   And why should I? I am either at my office (where I have a telephone), driving (where it is illegal to pick up a cellphone—and I don’t have hands-free for a gadget I hardly use) or in a meeting (where it is bad form to pick up a cellphone). I believe we are in charge of the technology, not the other way around.
   I wrote in 2005, partly in jest, ‘The only reason for a man owning a cellphone is saving money on a vasectomy. Shove a Nokia down your pants and have your testicles irradiated.’
   So when someone calls the private number and then fails to call my regular phone as I helpfully advise, or sends me an email, or just plain acts in a logical fashion, then that is funny.
   I mean, a journalist is meant to be tenacious, right? Fail on one method, try another.
   Not give up on a whimper and turn their own failure into a story.
   Though I don’t think that was the joke they were trying to get at.
   Oh, there is no g in Yan. Three letters. Pretty easy to remember. There are more digits on the Telstra mailbox.
   Now, what was the number for that again?

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2 thoughts on “How easily they give up

  1. I think I understand. My situation is a bit different, but the result is much the same: if I have access to a landline, I use it. Cimmy and I have pay-as-you go cell phones. We cannot afford anything beyond that. The numbers remain between us and a few others (extended family, friends) as the situation demands. Everyone else is instructed to call our landline. We are usually home. With a few exceptions, if someone cannot be bothered to call it and leave a message with the answering machine, then they generally are not anyone we wish to speak to. The exceptions we will go out of our way to call back (as we will figure out who they are from the Caller ID).

    I agree with you, as well, that a journalist should be more tenacious. That sort of putzy behavior is things I’d expect from telemarketers and other such riff-raff. Those sorts usually hang up just as the outgoing message kicks in, or the robo-caller (automated dialer) leaves a message the machine cannot possibly respond to (press 1, 2, 3 for… whatever).

  2. Precisely, Jak. We are masters of the technology, not the other way around. Whether it’s for cost or privacy, we determine how the technology is used and how our private information is used. If someone expresses that they do not welcome a call on a particular number—and yet has fairly and openly provided another where they can be reached—the normal thing to do would be to call the number given (especially as I was at that number all week).
       I also agree that if they cannot be bothered leaving a message on a conventional answerphone, then they obviously don’t need to speak to me or the matter is unimportant.

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