I received a phone call the other day. The scrappy voice on the other end of the line told me that the caller was still in stage of puberty where the voice is going from that of a kid to an adult. "Uh...this is Dave from...uh...Blockbuster. I'm calling about your...uh...overdue movies," the squeaky voice said.
Aside from the fact Marathon Girl and I don't have a membership at Blockbuster, there was something else that struck me odd about the call. The pubescent voice and the fact that the caller sounded like he was making this up as he went along reminded me of a novice prank phone call.
I decided to play stupid and see where the call would go.
"What overdue movies?" I said.
"You know...uh...those porno movies."
There was snickering sounds in the background.
Yep. Prank phone call.
"Oh THOSE movies," I said. "Has it been a week already? I didn't have a chance to watch 'Saucy in Salt Lake.'"
There was a pause on the other end. It wasn't the response the caller had been expecting.
"Uh...well...be sure to bring back all the gay porn too."
The comment was followed by sounds of muffled laughter.
"I've been meaning to tell you how much appreciate your recommendations in that category," I said.
There was another frustrated pause and more laughter. This time the laughter seemed directed at the voice on the other end.
"Just so you know, I have your phone number." I looked at the number on my caller ID and repeated the number.
"Oh crap," a voice said. It wasn't the caller's voice. It was younger and scared.
"Look, I'm not going to tell your parents." I said. "But you should know it's near impossible to make prank phone calls with all this telephone technology. Next time you might want to try a pay phone."
There was several moments of tense, muffled whispering.
"Sorry. We won't call again." the pubescent voice said and the line went dead.
After I hung up the phone, I realized it's been 10-15 years since I received or made a prank phone call. Caller ID, star 69, and other phone technology has killed prank phone calls. It's no fun making them if the person on the other end can track you down.
I wasn't much of a prank caller. I lacked the ability to be convincing because I would usually ruin it by laughing part way through the call. I wasn't a good prank caller. The few prank calls I did make were usually strange messages left on answering machines with fake numbers for people to call back. Yeah, that's what I did for entertainment when I was bored out of my mind.
It was Caller ID that officially ended the occasional prank call. I think it was my last year in high school when I prank called one of my friends. After I made the call, the phone immediately rang. "Thanks for the prank call," my friend said.
Of course even handedness denied any responsibility.
"I have caller ID," my friend said. "I know it was you."
Caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar, I don't think I ever made a prank phone call again. In fact, I don't remembered receiving many prank after that either. Technology took all the fun out of it.
What was most surprising about the prank phone call was that these kids didn't realize how easily their call could be traced.