I wasn't going to write this story because I think it was a super crappy thing for me to do and I'm not particularly proud of it. Then I told the story to a friend the other day and cracked up so much that I realized I had to write it.
Many years ago, when I was still in college, I was perhaps even more prone to prankery than I am now. I sat at a friends house, bored, playing with the stupid utilities that came with all Macintosh computers. One of them was the text to speech application. After the obligatory profanities, I got down to business. I called Pizza Hut and tried to type fast enough to carry on a conversation. It wasn't quite doable. The clerk on the other end got frustrated and eventually, with an air of resignation, said, "Ma'am (it was a woman's voice on the program), do you just want a pizza for free?".
I cackled with glee (not synthesized) and gave a phony address. My friends and I laughed and rejoiced until we realized that our trophy was sent to someone else's house. Then we felt cheated.
Several days later I was at another friend's house. I was hungry. My friends and I concocted some handy phrases that we thought we might need in notepad, ready to be copy and pasted. We dialed pizza hut.
"Hello, this is Pizza Hut."
They hung up. Perfect. Redial.
"Hello, this is Pizza Hut."
"You hung up on me," our mechanical voice droned, "please do not discriminate against me."
"Umm. I'm sorry. Can I help you?"
"Due to years of unhealthful smoking of marijuana and nicotine cigarettes my voicebox has failed like a retarded child."
I'm not making this up.
"Oh, ok. I'm sorry."
"I would like to order a pizza"
"Ok, what would you like?"
"A cheese pizza. For free."
"Oh, I'm sorry. We can't do that."
"You hung up on me. My people have suffered long enough"
"I'm sorry about that. I didn't hear you."
"My voicebox has failed... "
"Ok, I'm sorry."
"I will speak with your manager."
Muffled whispers could be heard in the background, trying to discuss the situation.
"Hi. I'm the manager. What can I help you with?"
"Your employee insulted me and hung up on me. It was rude. I demand free pizza."
"Well, I can't really do that..."
"My life is filled with despair and lonliness. Please do not add to my troubles."
"Ok, I'm sorry. I'd be happy to send you a free pizza"
We gave him our address, and then panic set in. This prank was about to move from behind the anonymous cloak of a telephone to a face to face confrontation. We did what any reasonable person would do - we got Orac to answer the door.
I think most groups of friends, especially in college, have that one guy who will do anything. Maybe it's for attention, maybe it's due to insanity, or maybe it's a combination. Orac once bit a chunk out of a stick of deoderant, and on another occasion he drank an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar.
We hid behind couches when the doorbell rang. Orac answered confidently, handed the delivery guy a tip, and took the pizza. No issues. No suspicion.
So we got cocky.
A week later we called Pluckers, a local chicken wing shack. Again, we began our routine.
"My voicebox has failed like a..."
Moving beyond the minor leagues of one pizza, I ordered 100 wings. Stories of our prank had spread and we had an audience to feed. I told them that "years of solitude and a sedentary lifestyle have caused massive weight gain. I must feed."
Feeling rather brassy, I volunteered to answer the door. We waited half an hour and no one showed up. Forty five minutes passed. After an hour we assumed that they were onto us. It's not like we were subtle.
People scurried to their hiding places and I opened the door with a big smile.
My smile vanished when I saw that behind the delivery boy was an older man in a button down shirt. He was the manager.
"What's up with the voice, kid?"
I was scared.
"The robot voice? You think that's funny?"
"OH! I'm so sorry. That's Maria! I'm her caretaker... she lost her voice box after years of smoking, so I get to live here for free to help her with errands and stuff."
There was a long pause. They didn't fully buy it, but then again they didn't know that I was lying.
"I'm sorry about her," I added. "She's a little bit bitter and she can be rude. She should have waited until I got home and had me call."
They were puzzled. Should they confront me or just give me the giant box of wings they held? They submitted.
"It's no problem. We only had 50 wings left. I hope that's ok."
"Of course. I'm sorry again if she was rude."
I handed them a tip and took the bounty inside. We each feasted upon 7 wings.
Hey if i ever see youyr number pop up on my girls phone then i am going to cut ur finger off and shoot you with my pistol bitch i better not ever ever see it blood is rushing blood is rushing
this story sucked. First I dont think anyone would send you a free pizza for any reason. No matter how fat, stupid, or how bad ur voice really sucks. Second this story sucks. If your going to make up a story, make up a good one you fuck face.
Wolfy - thanks! That's a huge compliment because I love Ferris Bueller. Not that I'm important enough to warrant such an ordeal, but I want to write my memoirs in volumes because I think it would be cool to read later volumes and compare them to the earlier ones.
Puzzled: I think it's not so much the fear of lawsuits but the desire to keep the customer satisfied, to a point beyond all reason.
Tynan: I finally figured out who you remind me of: Bueller! You are the real life Ferris Bueller.
Such an awesome story. I can't wait til you're in your late '30s and start writing your complete memoirs.
That's interesting. I believe that something like this can only happen in the US. But maybe I misunderstand these companies' motivation. They're doing that because they're afraid to get sued by crazy people who feel "offended", right?
Mark and I once composed a symphony that insulted his roommate to the tune of "Flight of the Valkyries" using the robot woman! They would be right across from one another on their beds, but still use the electronic voice on their laptops to tell each other things. It was kinda fun, you could speed up or slow down the voice, change it's pitch, and make it talk to a tune... Oh, and you could give it different accents! My, how technology has advanced for the betterment of human kind.
"We need to take this, ok?"
The nighttime receptionist didn't know what to say. I had just grabbed the poinsetta plant from her desk and before she could reply we were already halfway to the door.
"Well, I guess..."
I'm almost Trayvon Martin, maybe. I don't mean in the way that its been being batted around lately. I come from a white suburban upper middle class family, with all of the privileges that come along with it. So what, though, that's my karma. I’m trying to make sense of things, and process my feelings. I just need to get it down on paper.
I’m almost Trayvon Martin, maybe, because I was attacked on the street for no good reason once, too. But I survived, and wasn’t too badly injured. It could have been much worse. But two black kids Martin’s age jumped me, broke my face in a dozen places, and stole eleven bucks and my iPhone. I didn’t used to describe the kids as black, but now that all this racial stuff is being shot all around, it seems pertinent. But you know, before, I didn’t have to say it. People would ask me where it happened, “47th and Baltimore”, and then they would ask, “Were they black?” and I would nod. Or they wouldn’t bother asking, because they kinda knew already. Sometimes I would joke, “Nope, it was two little asian girls.”
I didn’t think a lot of it, and I didn’t cry for justice, or talk about how messed up it was, or make it all about the evils of a society where black people can just run around and smash the faces of white hippie kids and steal their phones. I just figured that was life in the big city, and I should be more careful about when I go to the punk rock coffee shop to get kale smoothies.
So, I laid on my mom’s couch taking as few painkillers as possible, and let the scars from the reconstructive surgery heal, and tried not to think about the medical bills. Something called PA victim’s assistance covered them mostly, but its not the most efficient system, and I still get some really big bills from creditors and some harsh phone calls, and my credit is probably a mess. It also put a strain on my relationship with my mom, but we’ll be ok. My mouth is still kind of numb, and some of my teeth are loose. I hope they don’t fall out, but one or two probably will, in the next twenty years or so. My kissing has been slightly impaired, which sucks, cause I like kissing. But I’ll be fine. First world problems.
But, the thing is, I’m scared of black kids now. I clench my fists when i walk by them on the street, and make the meanest eye contact that my bearded, bespectacled face can make, and hope its enough to keep me safe. I relax a little if the black guy is older, or carrying a pizza or something, but not much.