Vexations and Conundrums – November 2022


A long time ago, in the 1970s, people did not have cellphones. A very few people had boxy “mobile” phones, but those were rare. Most people had one telephone number, and never knew who was calling.

If one was single, as I was then, the phone was essential to one’s social life, as dates were often made via telecommunication. When the phone rang, I waited a few rings, so as not to appear too eager, then answered in as sweet and inviting a voice as possible. Usually this yielded the desired effect if the caller was the latest target of my affection.

There was one dark side to this situation. Occasionally, odd, anonymous callers would somehow target women. Heavy breathers, nasty talkers, or the occasional threatening person might land at the other end of the line.

For a while, I would receive an early Saturday morning call, early enough to awaken me. Groggily I would answer, “hello,” wondering why I had to wake up from my deep slumber.

“Hey! Did I wake you? You still in bed?”

“Who is this?”

“Oh, it’s Bob.” (Very friendly tone)

“Bob who?” (We all know Bobs.)

“I just wanted to see how you’re doing. I haven’t heard your voice in a while.”

“What’s your last name?!” (I’m grumpy when my sleep is interrupted.)

“Oh, come on. You know me.” (I did not.)

“If you don’t give me your full name, I’m hanging up.”

These calls usually ended with me slamming down the receiver and ignoring the next incoming call as I tried to go back to sleep.

The calls were sporadic, not frequent enough to take any action, but annoying.

Enter special features. One could dial a code and a phone number and have calls routed to a different location. I had this feature. I was going on a weekend getaway and persuaded a friend to keep a log of any calls that came in while I was gone. I returned on a Monday and asked if I had received many calls.

“Oh, you had two calls. I really enjoyed talking to one of the guys. He was a real charmer.” my friend informed me.

“Who was that?”

“Bob,” she replied enthusiastically.

I froze. I had forgotten about this caller. “What did you talk about?” I asked.

“Oh, work, how we work together. Office things. How we met…We must have talked for a half hour.”

“I’m sorry to tell you this. He’s a pervert. He calls on Saturday mornings occasionally. It’s my fault I didn’t warn you.”

At least he was not the type of caller that had you checking the locks on your door and closing the curtains. Later, caller ID made the irritation of these callers a nonissue as one could see who was calling. Then we all moved on to cellphones. A new category of nuisance came now: The sex text message.

I have no clue how my number was targeted, but I suddenly started to receive numerous group texts a day with sex connotations. I never clicked the sites, but I saw people responding. “How do I get off this list?!” was a common text reply. I searched the internet for escape advice but blocking one text would only lead to a text from a new number.

I started listing them, just because they were so weird. Here is a small sample of sex texts I received:,,,

My list grew long. There were repeated tries from some numbers.

One day my visiting stepson was in the kitchen, and I saw him looking at my list. His face clouded and his brow furrowed. I could only imagine what he thought I was up to. He looked like he had discovered me seeking an affair. I quickly explained that I was receiving these anonymous texts on a regular basis, hoping he knew this was a thing.

Eventually, I was able to block enough of the numbers that the texts ceased.

Now I wonder, how is Bob, and how did he ever get my number?

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Katina Pontikes
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