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My Turn: Elvis has the answer to the modern dilemma of robocalls

The recent news about robocalls takes me back to last November. I was coming in the back door loaded down with “stuff” for Thanksgiving. The phone was ringing, but I told myself, “Let it ring, don’t answer it. Don’t do it — you are going to drop something, you know it."

“Ignore the phone call,” I said aloud to no one, yet I knew I wouldn’t ignore the call.

So I put down the bags — really dropped the bags — and rushed to the phone. That’s another thing: You shouldn’t rush in my house, not with three cats running around.

“But Gina,” I said to myself, “the phone is still ringing. It could be something important. It could be a family member who needs me." Right, yes: Someone needs me.

The little voice of logic, which doesn’t often get a chance, asked what number was calling. I waited, then, for the machine to tell me.

I grabbed the phone and saw the letters and numbers familiar to me past robocalls: V668, etc.

The voice of logic returned: “I told you so."

The bags were now falling like dominoes; you really can’t depend on bags to stand up by themselves.

Don’t answer it I said as I picked up the phone (“you know it’s a robocall”). Then I screamed aloud again, “DON’T ANSWER IT!” (Did I really think screaming aloud would stop me from answering the phone?)

I couldn’t answer it anyway; it stopped before I could press the "Talk" button. And, of course, the caller didn’t leave a message.

Sitting down at the kitchen table with a much-needed cup of coffee, I shook my head.

“Why can’t scientists and people who are smarter than I am stop these?” I said aloud to an audience of cats (for surely they were listening).

And that’s when the song ““Return to Sender” popped into my head. In my mind's eye I saw a tall, handsome man standing in front of me strumming a guitar and singing that song.

It is an older song (1962) and Elvis Presley is the tall, handsome man I was thinking of. (I’m sure ladies from my generation know the look.)

So I sang the song as I put away bags of squashed lettuce and more — thank goodness, no eggs that day.

“Return to Sender.” I picked up the phone to look at it — and like a light bulb, an idea came to me.

“A button. That’s what we need: a button,” I said in my head.

When the calls come in and you know it’s not for you — it’s not for anyone human — you could press the "star" button twice, maybe, and the call goes back. Every single time.

So here’s my question for the technicians and scientists out there: Why can’t this happen? Why can’t we return robocalls to the people who send them? We should be able to.

I can barely carry all the groceries and running with them isn’t an option. (Somehow I have gotten old.)

We would all be so thankful to the technicians and scientists of the world for developing such a technology. And you don’t even need a new name for it. “Return to Sender” would do. I’m sure The King wouldn’t mind.

Regina Phelps,


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