A log on my phone lists missed calls from Dagsboro, Delaware, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and Nampa, Idaho.
While I’m convinced that lovely people live in all these communities, I do not know any of them. I missed the calls because I didn’t answer them.
These callers sometimes leave a message, and they seem gravely concerned that I have not taken steps to reorganize my student loan debt.
My undergraduate days recall a time and place when you could exchange livestock for tuition. So I don’t have student loan debt.
What I have is a phone number, and that qualifies me for the complete catalog of scammers, hucksters, robo-callers and time-wasters who want to engage me wherever I happen to be standing and transfer money from my wallet to their own.
America remains the land of the free, but it can cost you without taking proper care.
The Federal Trade Commission proves a repository for this swamp of nuisance calls. It fields a lot of them.
On Thursday, for example, the government agency got 21,168 complaints about unwanted calls, according to the exhaustive FTC record-keeping. That’s a complaint about every four seconds of the day.
Some of them came from Missouri to Missourians. A number of them originated in the 816 area code.
Phone customers can sign up for a “Do Not Call” registry, and some prosecutions result from violations. But the number of unwanted calls I get grows rather than decreases.
I thought of this the other night while watching the Democratic presidential debate, a hootenanny of a political event and more crowded than a big-box storefront on Black Friday.
Amid the tumult, some candidates felt the spray of question after question while others looked consigned to the notch just above “stage furnishing.”
Marianne Williamson fell into this latter category.
The Californian has not taken a typical route to this presidential race. She is an author of best-selling books about spiritual growth, and she offers her candidacy as a tonic to “cultural malignancy.”
That said, the current president elevated his celebrity on a reality show with the catchphrase, “You’re fired!” With Williamson or anyone else, why not?
Though not called upon for much speech, she had a memorable line when asked about her first action as president.
“My first call is to the prime minster of New Zealand,” Williamson said.
None of the other candidates thought of this. Perhaps that’s because the United States, population 329 million, might not have much in common with New Zealand, population 4.8 million, or about 79 percent the number of residents in Missouri.
Williamson, who says no higher art exists than “living a beautiful life, intended a little trash talk with the leader of a country said to be the best place in the world for the raising of children.
“I will tell her, ‘Girlfriend, you are so on, because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up,’” the candidate said.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, might have been pleased or alarmed by this shout-out, perhaps both.
Ardern’s previous experience with President Trump – punctuating some good-natured ribbing by telling him, “You know, no one marched (in protest) when I was elected” – might mean their phone numbers have been mutually blocked anyway.
Williamson insisted on Thursday night that she will “harness love” to chase the incumbent from the White House. When it comes to staying “on brand,” she had a pretty good night.
I’ve never gotten a nuisance call from Auckland, but who knows what a new week will bring? I might answer with the salutation, “Girlfriend, you are so on,” just to see if I can harness that love.