About a month ago I was having a quiet weekend when my phone rang. The caller i.d. read, "unknown number" so I didn't answer it. The ringing stopped and the most frightening noise known to man (well, at least to me sounded): a voicemail.
I tell people to NEVER leave me a voicemail. I have never heard a voicemail that gave good news. If someone wants to deliver good news then they usually want to hear the reaction. A voicemail is reserved for things that aren't good. Therefore, any voicemail is, for me, the end of the world.
I slowly picked up the phone and began to shake. Was one of my parents killed in an accident? I always figure that an "unknown caller or number" is law enforcement. I was fearing that my world, as I knew it, was over.
The number dialed and the most fearsome sentence came on, "You have one new message; first unheard message:. What happened after that left me speechless.
Nobody in my family was dead, but this stern sounding man was on the line informing me that some recording artist's group was coming after me for something in excess of $600,000 for illegal music downloads. I began to shake and I hung up the phone in terror. Pure terror.
I began to ponder how on Earth I would repay that money. I was plotting my escape to an unknown island in the Pacific when it occurred to me that I shouldn't be wanted for illegal downloads because I'm not guilty of any.
I became confused and reflective as I tried to ponder why I was being called. Was I a victim of identity theft? I replayed the voicemail over in my head and it sounded legit so I started doing some research.
Internet research typically comes easy for me, but on this day I was shaking and scared and in tears. Many years ago, and this story is in my book, a person threatened me over the phone and it took several years to not be deathly afraid of the phone. Right now I'm just afraid, back then I was DEATHLY afraid. That may not sound like progress, but any time the word "deathly" can be removed from a sentence that is progress in my book!
It took an hour of repetitive talk on my part to finally make some headway on what was going on. My friends on Xbox said that something like that couldn't possibly be true because "why would they alert you ahead of time?" I didn't have an answer as all I knew was that I was on the hook for 600k.
My big break in my investigation came when I found a website that had the same voicemail I had heard. Beside the recording box it read, "send a funny message, input someone's phone number here for laughs and listen to the recording afterwards!" I was in shock. Someone had taken the time to send me this message, but who?
I don't have many enemies, if any, so I had no idea. I broke it down and came to the conclusion that I have no chance to win the lottery, but when it came time for the random phone number to be placed in the box I won (or would it be "lost" in this case?)
It had been a month since this occurred and I had all but forgotten it. One thing that helped was the lack of reminders and voicemails, but a certain someone today had a slip of the tongue. Yes, I found out who the culprit was and I was in shock.
I wanted to be angry, I really did, but for some reason after having three great presentations in the past two days I simply couldn't get the anger sensation. I was in shock and disappointed, but I wasn't angry (maybe at a later time).
The reason I post this is that people on the spectrum can make for some easy targets of cruel jokes. Since we take things literally and if told we're on the hook for 600k we may believe it because it makes no sense to be told one thing if it isn't true. I don't believe everything I hear, but if there's no holes in speech and it sounds legit I will believe it.
In the long run this phone prank won't be a big deal. Had I not found the site that it was from I'm sure this would've turned out much differently with the end results being to the level of catastrophic for me. Truly catastrophic as I was slipping into a place that I did not care about life or anything else except the concept of six-hundred thousand dollars (the amount was typed out for dramatic effect).
Perhaps this post relates to my complete lack of understanding of April Fools Day. I truly despise that day if you missed that post, but perhaps it is so because a prank like this is truly believed by me. Thinking back on how I felt when I first heard that man on the phone with that message saddens me because I know I will be there again. I know I will fall for something like that and will have a hard time deciphering if it is the truth or not.
As I said, I am not angry at this person. I am disappointed beyond words though. They owe me big! You know who you are! Maybe they already have paid because in this article they've been made a villain. I've only had one other villain and that was the "usher" from my NHL experience.
I hope in the future this person, and all others, use better judgement on pranks of this nature. This is autism awareness month and awareness is more than awareness that autism IS. Awareness, in my mind, is about raising the level of knowledge of people that don't have it, and from this villainous act I hope awareness was raised.