Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm A Heck Of A Nice Person.

Not only am I nice, but I think that most people are.  Yup.  There's a whole bunch of nice folks wandering around out there in the world.  But, not everyone is nice.  Consider this:

I finished up another fun-filled day of educating the masses in a much less tired state than I've been exhibiting most of this week.  I even stopped by the local department store on the way home to pick up a few odds 'n ends.  And underpants.  I was doing well with that for a while, there.  I hadn't given in to my unquenchable desire to purchase underpants for months, now.  But, then the whole thing came up again on the blog and I got to thinking about underpants and how my new stuffing-enhanced girth might benefit from some fresh elastic waistbands. Besides,  giving in to the Underpants Urges makes me awfully happy...

Whistling a happy little underpants themed tune of my own making, I let myself back into my home and was greeted by my answering machine displaying 5 new messages.  This is unusual.  Normally, this means that it is the day before an election or I have neglected to pay someone some significant amount of money and they are resorting to mildly threatening phone calls in order that I might begin to see the importance of sending them my dollars.  But, I was all happy from the new underpants at that point, so I figured I'd play the messages anyway.  It's not anyone's fault that we live in a democracy or that I sometimes forget to put the checks in with the bills, after all.  

This round of messages was different, though.  It seems that there is a little girl in my town who really, really needs to talk to her friend.  I mean she really, really, really needs to talk to her.  Badly.  Tonight's activities depend upon it.  Lives may be at stake.  So intent was she in her quest to make sure that her friend understood the importance of this conversation, that she spent a great deal of time on these messages.  I now know the following:

1.  Her name
2.  Her friend's name
3.  Where they are going tonight and in what area of the building they will be meeting
4.  What time they will be there
5.  The color and make of the car that will be dropping her off for this meeting
6.  Her phone number
7.  Her address
8.  Directions to her house
9.  She is concerned about her friend's lack of response and would really like to know what is going on..she's maybe even a little distracted by this turn of events.
10.  And, from her voice, I can assume that she is between the ages of ten and twelve


Let's take a minute and think about what one of those not-so-nice people might do with this information.  Are you getting a picture yet?  Are you envisioning the potential for disaster?  Are you maybe starting to wonder just how much information kids give out over the phone without realizing it?  

After several power outages and having to re-record my outgoing message about a billion times, I finally just decided to leave it on the default setting.  Hence, the voice that callers hear is a computerized male.  There is no identifying information about the residence given.  This youngster had no way of knowing that she was dialing the wrong number.  She trusted that this was her friend's house.  Kids are like that.  They "assume."  

Fortunately, I was home for her last attempt at reaching her friend and was able to let her know that she was not calling the right number.  Hopefully, she reached her friend and they were able to confirm their plans for a fun-filled evening.  I know from her calls that she was willing to move heaven and earth to make this an easy process.  There were any number of options given for making the meet-up happen.

I, like most people, am a very nice person.  I do not have any interest in the social schedules of young children.  Nor do I care where they live and how long it will be before they are outside the protection of parental supervision.  I just want to sit around in my jammies tonight and work on my Sort Of Purple Sock That Might Match Something I Own.  I'm a simple girl in addition to being pretty nice.

But not everyone is.  And I'm wondering if that voice in the background on those messages was her mom.  And if she really understands how lucky she is that I am so nice.

SA

22 comments:

mehitabel said...

Yeah. It is a great thing that you are a nice person, and that little girl needs someone to give her a clue. Between the kind of paranoia that requires even a grandparent to give a "password" before a child will go with them, and total laissez-faire, there's got to be a middle ground of caution! Perhaps you could mention this to the Powers That Be at your school/district, just as a little something that might be added to the curriculum. Cause heck, we all know those teachers don't have enough to do (can you FEEL the dripping sarcasm?).

Julie said...

That's really very scary, isn't it?! It really is a good thing that you are a heck of a nice person.

Helen said...

I'm pretty sure that I'd have given in to the urge to call the phone number the child so eagerly supplied, and to tell the person who answered what had transpired. This would a) give the girl a chance to find the right phone number, and b) alert her parents to the fact that she's giving all these details out in a not terribly safe way.
But I'm pushy that way.
Excuse me, I have to go instruct my daughters on the safe use of voicemail now.... cause you KNOW they won't see any correlation between the rules on the internet and the rules on phone machines.

http://shadowdancer.typepad.com

Cindy G said...

Sobering. And well written. Any chance you could submit it as a guest editorial to the nearest major (or even minor) newspaper?

Mia said...

Oh NOOOOO. Not MORE underpants Sheepie. This is bad. This is very, very bad.

Kath said...

Oh gawd - it's that sort of thing that makes me glad I only have the kind of children with fur and paws. And they have not learned how to use the phone. (Yet.)

But I am all for the buying of underpants! More underpants = less time spent doing laundry + a reduced chance of the need to go commando. And that's really the critical point!

Lazuli said...

Oh gosh. I'm not so sure you do think the rest of the world is nice; it sounds like you think they're more likely to take advantage of innocent youngsters. Which is probably right, but I might not have thought about the possible ramifications. It's indeed a good thing she accidentally called you!

Marianne said...

eeeyikes! I hope this young girl has learned something.. or perhaps she'll relate the conversation she had with you to her mom...and learn something.... yikes!

Beth said...

You've made a very good point. I've talked to E about not giving out information over the phone, but we've never talked about leaving info on answering machines...until right now. Thanks!

trek said...

Very scary.

But I'm sure you've had to sign forms at the doctor's office saying that it is okay for them to leave messages on your machine - privacy laws being what they are these days - *some people* realize that answering machines are not secure. Just not little children.

In a way, I am happy that thte child is so innocent and carefree. Too bad she can't stay that way. :o(

Anonymous said...

She's lucky it was your answering machine she got.
And you're lucky to have new underpants!!
Karen
http://nothingbutknit.blog-city.com/

Deb said...

** Mental note ** - tell 11-year daughter old not to leave messages at friend's house beyond "call me back".

Susan Pandorf said...

It's sad when we lose our innocence, isn't it?

I would tell the parents also. In fact I once followed a teenage driver home, got his address from the mailbox, asked a friend who lived in the same subdivision for the phone number, and let the parents know I watched him charge right around a stopped school bus.

I also called a neighbor after her daughter careened right out into the street in front of my car on her new rollerblades.

In both cases, the parent was glad to know. Safety trumps discretion (in my humble opinion.)

Bountiful bloomer blessings!

Yarnhog said...

Okay, I've got the shivers running up and down my spine so badly I need another cup of coffee and my children are never using the phone again.

Bobbi said...

wow! You know I get regular wrong messages from grown ups in my voice mail and mine clearly says "hi this is Bobbi" and it never fails that some message starts with "hi George I'm just calling to ...."

Knitting Linguist said...

Wow. Note to self: tell children not to leave detailed messages on voicemail, especially if it involves an unidentified voice. Why did I not think of that? Thanks...

Enjoy the undies -- it's the sort of small thing that just makes the day brighter.

KnitKicky said...

THANK YOU for being good and 'spaining to the child. First, very good point--must review with my girls the proper leaving of messages (being sure you have the right phone first). Second--I always feel horrible when I get those kind of frantic vm's on my cell--and have no way to call the person to tell them they have the wrong number. It was nice of you to do that too because, god knows, when you are 12your social life is EVERYTHING!

Cursing Mama said...

I am sick to my stomach now - wondering what my little "darlings" have given out without my knowing.....sick...sick...sick....

knitseashore said...

My housemates are only furry and four-pawed as well, but I think your post is important for adults too. Sometimes when you call someone and their voice mail doesn't have their name or phone number, you don't know if you have the right house or not. Best to say, like Deb, "call me back."

I also want to know why, when you move, you are always assigned a phone number from someone who has Mysteriously Skipped Town, and has creditors or other associates after him/her. Home Depot has been desperately trying to get in touch with the guy who had my work phone before me. But that's a different topic for a different day.

kmkat said...

Yes, add a little 10-minute tutorial into your school's curriculum and write up something for your newspaper. You can do it in the time you will not spend washing your underwear. (Wait, that didn't come out right. You know what I mean, though, I'm sure.)

Lorraine said...

Oh my, how scary. Scarier than zombies - really!

Hey, panties are less fattening than the chocolate I'm buying in an obsessive manner this holiday season. Maybe a trip to the dainties store is in order.

catsmum said...

good point , well said - my phone message, that I share with the other umpty gazillion people who use the same provider I do, gives no identifying details other than the number dialled so one is never sure if one has indeed rung the right number.
I've been here 3 years this week and I still get at least a couple of calls a week for the woman who had this number. As it was a shop number, I not only get people wanting to show me this season's range,[ although most of THEM have got the message by now ] I also get all those charities wanting to sell me raffle tickets, etc.