When we first came to the Outpost we were assigned a phone number previously used by ‘honey’, also known as ‘my mother’ (i.e. ‘darling’). We would be rung up by a number of male characters who would sound disoriented at the sound of Jod’s voice and would timidly apologise to me, although many more would just slam the receiver down. Pizza delivery places we phoned up would run reverse searches on our number and give us a woman’s name and an address a long way from here. We had these details corrected a call centre at a time.
Then times changed, although not the number. A couple of years ago, a “public opinion research group” phoned us. I was asked about my favourite crisps and tortilla chips. Since then, they all followed suit. Every time the phone rings and it’s someone we do not know, it is usually someone calling us for an opinion poll, a survey, a market research project and so on. The best was in March 2004.
“Hello, sir, I am from XXX and I would like to take up a few moments of your time.”
“Have you decided how you will vote in the April 24th referendum?”
“No, because I do not vote.”
“Ok then, ‘no’.”
“No, no: it’s not that I have not decided yet, it’s rather that I do not vote.”
“Because I am not a Principality citizen.”
“Ok, but, still, have you decided what you will vote in the referendum?”
“No, because I am not a citizen of the Principality.”
“I am not eligible to vote in the referendum. I cannot vote”
“Ah, ok, thank you very much. Goodbye.”
A few minutes ago I participated in a phone survey on garden furniture. Someone who knows about these things told us I have had my phone number distributed among the local companies for occupying a very particular niche…
Incidentally, a Compatrido newcomer whose surname means ‘Poofster’ in the local lingo (he does not know yet — I cannot bear to tell him) commented that people stare here. They do. We used to comment on this a lot, too, but we have stopped noticing being stared at. Maybe we stare, too.