Back in the last century, around 1997 or so, a couple of friends and I decided to try our hands at the internet startup thing. It didn’t work out, but we learned a lot and moved on. There were many fun times In the couple of years that we had the business.
In 1997, if you wanted remote access to your computer systems, you needed to dial in. VPNs weren’t commonplace yet. So, we had a server with four modems set up for remote access.
One day, Dan and I were sitting in the office and a modem line starts ringing. Nothing out of the ordinary until we hear a voice through the modem’s speaker. “Hello? Hello?…. Is anybody there?” I reset the modem, disconnecting the call.
Then it starts happening a lot. One of the guys brings in a phone from home so we can answer the calls. Like clockwork, the calls start rolling in at 9 am. I answer the first call. The guy on the other end is looking for the Citrus County Courthouse. Sorry, wrong number pal. He reads the number back to me and it is the number of our modem line. A couple more calls come in and they are all looking for the Citrus County Courthouse. It seems that our number was printed erroneously on a document that Citrus County was sending out to people. We start getting 10 to 12 calls a day on the line.
That’s when we get the brilliant idea to mess with the callers.
“Pizza Palace, take out or delivery?”
“Uh, is this the Citrus County Courthouse?”
“No, it’s Pizza Palace. You going to order or what?”
Then we laugh ourselves silly for a few minutes.
We quickly found out that most people do not pay attention on the phone. It rapidly spirals out of control and becomes a competition to see how much we can get away with. We start using names like Heywood Jablomey and Howie Feltersnatch.
“County Morgue, this is Howie, how many I help you?”
“Uh, yeah, I’m trying to get a hold of (insert random bureaucrat here)”
“Hang on, I need to go to the freezer to check the toe tags”
At this point, the phone gets set down for a few minutes.
“Sorry sir, we don’t have anyone with that name.”
“But I have this letter”
“Yes, it says I need to contact so and so at the courthouse.”
“Sir, this is the morgue, not the courthouse”
“You should be, I just had to rummage through 28 dead bodies looking for somebody when you had the wrong number.”
“You heard me. If you had paid attention, I wouldn’t have had to go into that God awful freezer and search toe tags.”
“County morgue. You stab em, we slab em.”
Much laughter ensues.
It goes on for a few days with these little short calls. Then Dan decides to take it up a notch. My friend Dan is one of those guys with a wicked and warped sense of humor with perfect timing. He can work a one liner or smart ass comment into a conversation so naturally and perfectly that 2 minutes later you think to yourself, “Wait, hold on, did he really just say that?”.
The phone rings and it’s Dan’s turn. I swear, I am not making this up.
“Citrus County Whorehouse.”
“Yes, I need to speak with so and so.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, I believe he’s in a session with Cinnamon right now. Can I help you?”
“I need to talk to somebody about this bill.”
“Sorry ma’am, billing issues are something you’ll have to talk to my boss about. His name is Richard Burns. Hang on a minute.”
He sits the phone down for a few minutes.
“Dick Burns here.”
“Mr Burns, I need to talk to someone about this bill.”
“Ma’am, all bills are final here. We can’t exactly give refunds if you know what I mean.”
“Yes, but I still need to…”
At this point, Dan slams a drawer on the desk as hard as he can and lets out a blood curdling scream.
“WHAT JUST HAPPENED??”
“Sorry ma’am, I just slammed my penis in the desk drawer.”
At this point, I’m about to wet my pants. There’s no way this person is going to stay on the line after that. She’s got to know he’s jerking her chain by now.
“…OK, well can we take a look at this bill.”
Holy Crap! She’s still there. The only thing I can think of is that she thought he didn’t really say what she thought he said. At this point, Dan goes for broke.
“Ma’am, I can’t really do anything at the moment. Could you call back in about three hours, I should be done masturbating by then.”
At this point, we are laughing so hard, we can’t see. We’re howling like a couple of lunatics. That was the best! She had to have been playing along, right? Nobody is that clueless, right?
Three hours later, the phone rings.
“Citrus County Whorehouse”
“Yes, I need to speak with Dick Burns…”