WHEN THE PHONE WAS A FRIEND.

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What a shame we have to live dreading the sound of the telephone. Time was when the phone was something that brought friends and family together. Alberta Government Telephones, bought by Telus in 1996, once had an ad campaign promoting dialing long distance. “Your Voice is a Visit” was their catch phrase and it certainly resonated with people.

Then businesses began bugging us for their custom and charities for donations. I remember back in the eighties when I’d pick up the receiver and instead of a friend or family member, a local sales person tried to sell me subscriptions to a newspaper or get me to donate to some charity.  The occasional polling company would call for my opinion but I usually received sales calls.

Scammers caught on and offered supposedly incredible deals. I was burned by one of those in 1987 when an investment firm called Principal Group offered twenty percent returns on investments. Established financial institutions only offered three to five percent, depending on the risk involved. Fortunately for me, I only put in fifty dollars and was repaid twenty-six dollars when the firm was taken to court. Now I realize it was a Ponzi scheme. If something seems too good to be true, it almost always is.

Now we have phone robots being used by political groups and scammers alike. It’s rather hard to tell which is which. Thanks to my talking caller ID, I can hear if it’s a friend or a fiend calling me.

I regret that I was also using my telephone for less-than-honorable business purposes. The promise of riches by prosperous Amway distributors drove me to call every contact in my address book. When I evaded people’s questions about what I was asking them to come to my house and see, I lost almost every friend. I persisted with Amway for another five years before giving up.

Though I plan on getting a cell phone, I much prefer e-mail replies. I can compose my ideas much better with it. Answering calls puts a person on the spot and usually interrupts something which the recipient of the call is deeply involved in. With me, the phone seems to ring when I’m in the bathroom. It’s usually a friend too. When I’m waiting for a call, that’s when the scammers and phone robots appear to bombard me.

I wrote about losing all my friends on account of Amway in my new book. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. My previous paperbacks are featured at Bruce Atchison’s books.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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