Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 90

The Time Mookie Used to Prank Call Everyone In Town

The kids today have access to information and communication in ways I could never have dreamed of when I was a kid. 

  1. If you wanted to know who a particular actor was in a movie, we couldn’t Google that shit - we had to watch the movie and read the credits.
  2. If you had to write a huge paper on the Grand Canyon, we didn’t spend an hour on the Internet and have everything right in front of us – we spent a week in the library pouring over books and encyclopedias. 
  3. If you wanted to communicate with someone – there was no texting/emailing/tweeting - you either went to their house, called them on their land-line phone, or you wrote them a damned letter. 
Today, when you call someone – they INSTANTLY know who is calling. Caller ID is on everything, and if you are still using your 1990’s land-line phone -  you can still “star-69” someone to get the number of the person who called you.  

While people argue that these advancements in technology are a great thing, one thing is for certain:
They have ruined what used to be one of the best forms of entertainment ever:  Prank calls.

When I was a kid, due to the lack of “caller ID” or the “star-69” function technology - you could call ANYONE and they couldn’t do anything about it. Nada, zip, zero.  If you were a bored 12-year old in the 1980’s, this was AWESOME.

One year my parents got me my OWN PHONE for my bedroom.  Granted it wasn’t my own phone line, but still - I had a phone in my room where it didn’t take long for me to begin wreaking havoc on the community I lived in. Much to his dismay, I even recruited my life-long friend “Rick*” into helping me with various pranks. We used to just howl with laughter at the dumb shit we did, and spent (wasted) hours coming up with our shenanigans.

Because I liked to tinker with minor electronics, I even figured out a way to “bug” my own phone so that I could record the phone calls on my stereo sound system. Somewhere in my vast storage of crap at home, I think there is still a cassette tape that contains some of this damning evidence. Of course the NSA probably recorded stuff back then too, so it doesn’t matter whether I have this or destroy it. If they wanted me, they could have gotten me a long time ago.

While I’m sure we thought we were quite the little badasses, most of the prank calls we made were (more or less) harmless. Some of the highlights we can remember:

  • ·         - Opening the phonebook and just calling people and asking if they had any baseball cards they wanted to get rid of. (Rick was good at this one.  It was always old ladies who politely said they didn’t have any.)
  • ·          -Calling various people we knew from school, and impersonating someone while asking the person if they “wanted to go out with” the impersonated party. (This was sort of mean because we’d call gross people and try to line them up with other gross people)
  • ·         -Looking up funny last names in the phonebook and being obnoxious or leaving rude messages. (The last name of “Butts” is a no-brainer. They are just begging to get pranked. My other favorite was the last name “Whitehead.”  I’d ask for Mr. Blackhead, and when they said it was the “Whitehead” residence, I’d say “Oh I’m sorry, wrong zit.”)
  • ·         -We’d call certain businesses and ask them if they provide services that we knew they didn’t. (Our all-time fave call was to call up “Super Dog Grooming”* and ask if they neutered dogs. Hilarity depended on the person who answered.)
  • ·         -Annual phone calls to the Jehovah’s Witness church. (“Merry Christmas to you and yours!”)

We got even more retarded about it, and took the phone-calling fun out into public.  There was a pay-phone down on main street in front of one of the pharmacies - and I got the number. The typical plan would involve me riding my bike downtown and making sure I was in the vicinity of the phone at a certain time.  At the pre-determined time (we “synchronized” our watches) Rick would call the phone and I’d watch as people would walk by looking at the ringing phone – but no one would ever answer it.  Then I would unassumingly walk up, answer the phone and begin to have a conversation with the caller as people strangely looked on. Again – totally retarded but very funny.  This is also an example of things you can’t do – you can’t call payphones anymore either.

So kids, let me tell you.  You don’t know what you are missing out on by having all of this technology at your fingertips.  It is harder today to remain anonymous than it was to get popular 30 years ago. Today, everyone wants everyone to know who they are, and what they are doing via their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/LinkedIn/Snapchat feeds. Because of the Internet and all of its various search tools - it is virtually impossible to have any sort of anonymity with anything we do.

In my day, we could be anonymous – and we liked it.  I kind of miss that.

(*) Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

Miss a previous episode?  Click HERE to see the 

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