Long, long ago I had a frivolous email address which was widely published and free to me. Right away it began to collect kooks and spam. When I got a serious set with a service provider subscription, I thought long and hard about maintaining security and privacy, so I kept the main account separate, unpublished (a secret known only to me) and set up a family email sub-account for my general service use which was released only to a close group of friends and associates to accept messages which were real or important.
I was about to delete the free account just about the dawn of phishing and around the time the first Nigerian Prince begged me to make his millions mine, when I had the flash of idea to use it as a junk collector when I signed up to register with new, or potentially spammy, services - then, when I was satisfied the new website was legitimate, change my profile e-mail to one I view everyday. Just to complete the thought of looking at the accounts messages only when I needed to register for a new site and treat everything else received through it as a hazard - I set up a six month duration automatic 'vacation response' which stated "Remove us from your list. We know you're a spammer, and you have alerted the authorities and law enforcement…" et cetera, and so forth - then blissfully ignored it for six months. That automated response was well received, only about 1.5% bounced as undeliverable and the rest confirmed me as a valid live-one on their spam suckers-list. 120 days later I needed to sign up for website registration and popped my junk address through. When I visited my nearly forgotten web-mail access to verify my registration "Yep," the confirmation message was right there on top as expected. I viewed the message and clicked the verification and I'm ready and set to go blab on the new bulletin board. I was mildly surprised the confirmation was right there on top of 12,000+ SPAM!
"How effective." I thought as I renewed the vacation response, I had captured a large trend of all the crap circulating out there which became an obscure resource in an out-of-the-way corner of the web I don't visit nor care to. It had become a handy reference to alert me to refrain from clicking on otherwise convincing or enticing subject triggers which creep into my real and important email stream - such as subject lines consisting of my name@address, resemble familiar topics or senders. The spam collection also came in handy to corroborate citizen complaints of fraud and drug trade. Many of the attachments and headers contained enough clues to prosecute offenders and convict them in my day job - which was rapidly expanding to a squad.
An officer who had once been my partner bid on an auction lot of municipal street-side discards to obtain the police and fire call boxes and ended up with obsolete parking meters, which he turned into lamps, and two working payphones in enclosures on pedestals which he sold to me. I pulled them apart with curiosity, cleaned them up and understood what made them work, poured some concrete with permits on Broadway just outside my apartment and dreamed of supplemental income from long distance callers. It turned out they were well suited and ideally positioned to overhear conversations by the nefarious perpetrators who began to receive late-night calls on them. I was curious to hear the other side of the conversation, but wiretapping was out of the question. When Caller-ID was introduced I couldn't get it on my old entrenched wire-loop in my apartment, but it became available for the new lines, so I subscribed on the payphone line and swapped that line for my home phone, which nobody had been calling anyway. Gee, a legal loophole. Perps calling the former payphone number are now silently lighting up my apartment phone and sometimes I answer "Payphone. Hey, you know buddy, you're callin' a payphone right?"
Did you know there are no laws preventing any citizen from listening while they forward their apartment phone to any other phone in the world - such as my own COCOT payphone on the street below my window? Nor are there laws preventing anyone from answering any Customer Owned Coin Operated Telephone "Taj Mahal - a nice place to outsource, but nobody can live there."
I'm not lying to you if I allow you to mislead yourself into believing that you're calling the Taj Mahal, however unlikely a Manhattan prefix is to connect you to a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India - Atlantic City foreign exchange maybe, but my Indian accent impression sounds more like Indiana. Did you know it's illegal to impersonate an officer, yet officers are encouraged to alter their impressions? I'm above the boards in all my off-duty time. And just because I'm swamped with workload, doesn't mean that some of my free-time intelligence I'm mandated to report becomes useful clues to solving mysteries otherwise unfathomable. My testimony might even carry a bit more influence than the ordinary citizen who hasn't sworn such an oath. Half the vicarious voyeurism fun in an otherwise lonely and dreary sleep-cycle because I still only get the half conversation loud enough to reach my window on outgoing payphone calls or incoming robo-calls to the unpublished real payphone number.
The real fun started when I entered my number on the National Do-Not-Call Registry.
Like so many others targeted by gypsy and offshore scammers alike if not the same, suddenly my phone is blinking at all hours with scammers and air-duct/carpet/drapery-cleaning, home improvement/security offers, notification of prizes I have won in sweepstakes I never entered, and computer virus alerts which compel me to download a Trojan-horse-loader and then be complacent that my bank account will be wonky for a while.
Some people get mad, others get even. How does one rap the retail into retaliation? Here is a small collection of the responses to unrequited attentions of unsolicited solicitors ranging from idiomatic to idiotic, sublime to subhuman, profound to profane, and putting the fun in dysfunctional while reminding us all of the unlimited variations imaginable to slam the suck into succeed - like voting Republican.
- Hang up.
- Send to voicemail.
- Give the receiver to a three year-old and tell them Santa Claus called them and wants to listen.
- Ask them "How is the weather?" and then their city, and address, company name and telephone and so forth. Start an office-pool beforehand intersecting call duration with count of answers.
- "Please hold, my biscuits are burning!" then place the phone down near the radio broadcasting the helfire and brimstone of a ranting radical revival reverend. (that worked too well when the FD arrived to extinguish a trashcan fire on the sidewalk.)
- Whispering followed by an air-horn.
- While practicing scream therapy, taunt them with accusations of questionable parentage and sexual orientation so as to make a sailor blush. You'll feel better after wiping away a good dump.
But remember this and always be aware and forewarned.
- NEVER impersonated a phone-sex operator (O.K., my bad experience.)
- Always protect any real or personal information (keep that to yourself.)