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 beginning to feel like somewhat of a car crash magnet. I've totaled three cars in three years, thankfully with no one seriously injured in any of the incidents. I was not at fault in the first two wrecks, but a couple days ago, I caused the third crash.
I was coming home with the kiddos from my grandma's house in Mt. Vernon. Traveling on Route 3 is quite the roller coaster ride. Lots of hills and twists. But I've traveled that road so often, it's become familiar. I was cresting a hill, and there were two cars waiting to turn left in front of me. I didn't notice that they were completely stopped until it was too late. I slammed on the brakes, and tried to slide into the large gravel driveway on the left (the one the two cars ahead of me were headed to), but the first car started turning as I was crossing the other lane and I hit the back left side of her car, most likely at about 50 mph.
My kids were taking their much needed nap in their car seats when we collided. They woke with wails and tears, not understanding what they had just been through. For about 10 seconds after the crash, my brain was kind of fuzzy and I tried to gather myself. Trying to take in the reality around me without becoming overwhelmed at the possibilities that may have been caused by it. Trying to decide what the next best step was. My arms were spotted with an orange dust from the air bag. I noticed the familiar tingle of a seat belt burn on the left side of my chest as I had the same feeling three years before in my first crash. I wiggled the key out of the ignition as I looked over the rest of my body with relief. I dug my phone out from under the rubble it had slid under at the foot of the passenger's seat, unclicked my seat belt, and rushed to check out my little ones.
I got the kids out of the car, hoping that being able to snuggle me would help calm them down. They didn't have any signs of injury except some red irritations where their harnesses had been. At this point, people from other cars were already out asking if they could help and if we were ok. We sat down on the bank in front of a farm house, the only house I could see. The rest of the scenery was fields and woods. I explained to Noah and Hope what had happened and asked them if they were hurting anywhere. Just as they were starting to calm down, a light breeze came through and Hope yelled, "I'm Coooold!", clambered onto my lap and sobbed into my neck. Noah was just staring at our broken car in front of us, trying to take it all in.