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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

CraP LA: I'm not a Phone Phreak, Sir

Not real good last time, but I'll try again. At the good ol' Hollywood Radio Shack today, picking up a few items that I hoped would make my noon meeting at 3 a touch easier. 1/8" squid, crap headphones, volume limiter just in case.

While inside, an older gentleman comes in and approaches the ever-helpful clerk. He asks the clerk about those phones they have these days that have computer screens on them, the ones that can tell you who is calling before you pick up the phone - they just light up and tell you who it is, in case you don't want to talk to someone. The clerk knows just the feature, and has a number of phones that support Caller ID that he would be happy to sell, but alas, the gentleman already has such a phone.

Is the clerk aware that the phone company charges $5 a month to use this feature? Or that it doesn't cost the phone company a dime? Or what the hell is going on in Sacramento that the phone companies can just buy off these politicians and [name I've forgotten] won't be getting the good gentleman's vote a second time after letting this happen? Yes, yes, and no, it turns out.

It seems that the customer would like a device that will allow him to use the caller ID function that his phone clearly already has, without having to pay extra to 'those bastards.' Unfortunately, the clerk doesn't have one for sale. Can the clerk just make him something, since this is Radio Shack after all, and that's where they do that? No, the clerk explains that he doesn't have any experience hacking phones, except for a couple of cellphones, but not the network. The gentleman is sure that the clerk is supposed to say that, but come on, can't the clerk help?

"I'm sorry, I am not a phone 'phreak,' sir." "I didn't call you a freak, I'm just asking for some help here buddy."

Apparently people come in regularly expecting the Radio Shack of decades past, but they sell more in the way of cheap plastic crap than baggies of capacitors and resistors these days.