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<   No. 1259   2006-07-08   >

Comic #1259

1 Ishmael: Since I'm here, can I just check my messages?
1 Martian 1: Sure.
2 [sound]: click {Ishmael presses a button on his answering machine}
3 Answering Machine: You have ... one ... new message. From 555-5555.
3 Ishmael: My mother's number.
4 Answering Machine: "Call me, Ishmael!"
4 Ishmael: Why does she always say that?!
4 Martian 1: You should call her...

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Many American films and TV shows use fake telephone numbers beginning with 555 when a phone number is mentioned, to avoid the possibility of using a real phone number and potentially causing grief to the owner when idiots try calling the number mentioned.

Firstly, I find that this practice is one that inevitably breaks my suspension of disbelief when watching such a production, because it's so blatantly obvious that what is happening is a fiction.

Secondly, it's sad that there are so many people so unutterably stupid as to make this a real concern.

On the gripping hand, if you haven't called your mother for a while, give her a call. Let her know you were prompted to do so by one of those "crazy Internet things".


2015-12-15 Rerun commentary: I remember when I first learnt this fact about American TV shows. At first I couldn't believe they would actually go to the trouble of using a verifiably fake phone number, because who in their right mind would be so silly as to actually try phoning a number recited on a TV show??

I mean seriously, why would anyone waste their time doing such a thing? It was actually beyond my naïve comprehension that anyone would do this. And therefore beyond my comprehension that TV show producers would bother using verified non-real numbers, rather than just making up whatever number first came into their heads.

It was only with the fullness of time, personal growth of maturity and wisdom, and exposure to the raw humanity of the Internet, that I realised that there is always someone stupid enough to try anything, no matter how ridiculous.

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