Caller ID is key to dating

Jennifer Niemela

All Stu D. Lee wanted was one date for Saturday night.
Instead, after giving his phone number to an estimated 50 women at Ladies’ Night at BW-3 in Dinkytown, Lee received a barrage of phone calls from more than 30 of the infatuated lovelies.
Lee’s solution: Caller ID, the three-year-old phone service that allows customers to see the name and phone number of the person calling before they pick up the phone. The $6-per-month service comes with a slick little gray box the customer gets to keep.
“It was becoming obnoxious,” said Lee. “The phone was ringing every five minutes and the worst part was talking to the women who, let’s just say, didn’t pass the sobriety test.”
After two days of enduring tedious conversation and ferocious headaches from the constant ringing, Lee called the phone company to change his number. But when he explained the problem to the operator, she suggested Caller ID as a solution.
More convenient than constantly changing one’s number to avoid unseemly romantic situations and cheaper than the archaic “star-six-nine” method of screening one’s calls, Caller ID gives the phone customer the ultimate power tool: affordable omniscience.
“College students have been some of the best customers we have,” said A.G. Bell, chairman of the little-known but very cheap phone company LD Free. “I’m not saying they necessarily pay their bills on time, and we occasionally have to shut down their connections because of late payments, but, gosh, they love that Caller ID.”
Bell said he is frankly baffled that a service which was originally marketed to high school teachers, journalists and other people who frequently receive crank calls has caught on so quickly with college students.
“I guess when you think you know it all, you really need to know it all,” he said.
However, some people don’t think Caller ID is as wonderful as most college students do. Credit card companies have suffered from the screening techniques now so easily employed by debt-ridden students.
I.M. Eville, chairman of VICE credit card, said his company has lost thousands of dollars in accounts that are automatically closed because over-drawn students are unreachable by telephone. Eville, who blames Caller ID for his company’s financial woes, tried to have the company’s number show up as “anonymous” or “unavailable,” but he said too many students got the automatic anonymity screener on their accounts.
“Dag nab it, those meddling kids,” Eville said. “We would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for them.”
Tenth-year College of Liberal Arts senior P.A. Latte said that while she’s used Caller ID quite often to avoid credit card companies, her main use for the service is to avoid annoying calls from parents who want to know when she’s graduating.
“Like it matters to them,” Latte said. “I haven’t spoken to my parents since I got Caller ID three years ago. As long as the rent checks keep coming in, I plan to extend my streak as long as possible.”
For Lee, getting Caller ID was the best thing to happen to his love life. He is currently dating one of the women to whom he proffered his phone number that fateful night at BW-3.
While he still gets the occasional annoying call from a woman who “looked a lot better through the bottom of a beer mug than with the morning light shining on her face,” Lee now knows the drill.
“Some people run for the phone when it rings; I run for the Caller ID,” Lee said. “If the news is good, I push talk’ on the cordless. If it’s bad, I push delete’ on the box.”