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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 01.22.03

RICKY BLUE

Trapped in Bell Hell

One day last week I was waiting for a Sears serviceman to call. Now, I screen most of my calls through my answering machine. If I don't recognize the number, it filters it out.

I call it 'The Tomb of the Unknown Caller.'

My phone rang. I picked up.

"May I speak to Mr. or Mrs. Blue?" the voice said. I instinctively said "No," and hung up, figuring a greeting like that could only mean one thing: Sales. Then I looked down at the call display. It said: "Sears."

Oh my God. That must be the call I was waiting for. I punched call display. It dialed that number. A computer voice told me that the number I wanted was busy, but if I punched pound, Bell telephone would call me as soon as it was available. I did. Then I waited.

But I soon panicked, realizing that if that had been the Sears service department things were already being set in motion that would be irreversible. So I called the number again manually. I could hear someone dialing out.

"Hello, Mr. Brunet?"

"No, this is Mr. Blue. You just called me."

"No."

"Your number is on my display."

"Well sir, I call whatever number comes up."

"Can I talk to your supervisor?"

I waited, getting suspicious. The supervisor came on.

"Are you trying to sell me something?" I asked.

"Not exactly, sir. We offer you a free inspection of your heating ducts. Would you like an appointment?

"No thanks!" I hang up. This is the very reason I let my answering machine screen my calls. But at least I didn't blow the appointment with the Sears serviceman.

The telephone rang. It was the Bell computer.

"The number you wanted is still busy," it said. Two minutes later it rang again: "The number you wanted is still busy." Then another voice answered: "system code, please." It was my house alarm system, programmed to answer my phone for instructions if it gets two consecutive calls from the same number. My phone rang again. I heard: "The number is still busy." Then: "System code."

I picked up the phone. "Stop!" I yelled.

Suddenly I had two computers talking to each other, in a kind of computer perpetual motion. Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey flashed across my mind: "Open the pod bay door, Hal." "I can't do that, Dave."

"Stop, Bell!" "I can't do that, Rick." I pressed zero to get an operator. Today, though, zero gets you nothing. So I called 411. I said "English" for English. I said "Montreal" for what city? I said "Blah, blah, blah" for what name? The operator finally spoke. I explained that I just needed her to stop the Bell computer from calling me.

"Oh, you have to call 611, sir."

I called 611. I pressed one for English. I had five options. I listened. When I heard the first one that remotely sounded like I might get a human being I pressed it. I had four options. I sincerely hope there is a circle in hell reserved for the idiot who invented the telephone menu. I pressed the one that would get me a human being.

"Please help me stop your computer from phoning me," I gasped.

"Press star 86 to cancel all special functions. Oh, and press star 89 just to be sure," she laughed.

Now I ask you: Are computers really making life easier?
 

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