Monday, March 10, 2008

Crushed

I know this will sound odd, but I guard my privacy pretty fiercely. Yep, for someone who has a blog and blabs about their personal life to the entire universe, that sounds pretty dumb. But what I mean is that even though I chatter randomly about small stuff that's happening in my corner, I don't discuss my private life - the names or details of those close to me, etc. I have certain boundaries.

If you followed along for awhile, you've heard my rants when I got my credit card hijacked and terrorist groups were using my account to wire money to the Hezbollah. They also tried to use the internet to find out more personal information about me to steal my whole identity. It's a scary world out there. You have to be vigilant and not give out those details that could possibly put you at risk. And at the same time, somehow still be sharing and open and have something to talk about. All business is boring. I'm never interested in just business. It's a lot more fun to hear about other people's experiences, opinions about stuff and different perspectives. So my blog is a mix of personal, business, and well, other stuff.

So when I got "crushed" late Friday night, it was all new to me. Let me explain. For those of you, like me, who don't know about this stuff - there are websites that allow you to sign up and try to meet possible romances online. Not the usual stuff like E-Harmony or Match.com, but much shadier stuff for teens, from what I can tell. I cannot possibly tell how many there are - You Got Crushed, My Secret Crush, Spring Crush, etc. Note the constant word "crush." Maybe they are all run by the same weasels, but they are set up to be different services, and they charge your cell phone monthly, $5.99 to $9.99 per month

It was fairly late on Friday night when suddenly my cell phone started binging. The text message bing. Now I am not a huge cell phone user. I have one for shows and stuff, and only a handful of friends and family have the number. We hardly ever text message unless somebody is travelling out of town, like London, and are in a completely different time zone. So I shuffle around the purse for it, and it's one of those weird "crush" messages, with a web site address listed and a 4-digit code as the sender. I've never had one before. But before I can even ponder what it is, the damn thing went off about 4 more times.

It's getting much later, and still ringing, so I turn off the phone but try to look up what the whole crush thing is. Half the websites are not even funcitonal. But one is, so I called their 800 number, automated of course, and there is an option to quit the service by punching in your phone number. All good. Just to finish it off, I also email them with a hostile note to take me off immediately, because I am paying for these stupid calls.

The next morning, I turn on my phone, and there are more. I'm now wasting time with my cell phone company to find out how to block them. We are creating email filters for those 4-digit codes. But my phone is continuing to ring, 5 more crushes while I'm sitting there. All of them have a different code. It's like they are multiplying like rabbits, and each message is yet another "Crush" site of some variation. I'm going mad. I add each of them to my email blocking, dial the 800 number again, email again.

Saturday night I get more. Sunday I get even more. I've turned off the phone mostly, but each time I turn it on to make a call, there is another 5, 6 or 9 crush messages. I begin to think that a) I'm doomed and need to drop my phone into the ocean, or b) maybe they don't do any updates on the weekend and I should wait until Monday.

Good morning, Monday. I've gotten crushed another 6 times in the middle of the night. I am insane with pissy-ness. At first I tried to look up the new web sites. It seems that whoever dyslexic or horrifically cruel person this is that signed up my cell phone number - they signed me up not just once but to at least a dozen different crush services. I'm so crushed I can't think straight. I log into my account again, and realize that it's at least another 6 numbers to block each day. Crushing blow. I decide to call the support line. They can hear my frantic frustration and give me a few bonus text messages to cover this onslaught so I'm not paying double for these - once to receive them and another time to reply STOP STOP STOP it right NOW! to each of them.

Turns out that with one button, you can block any and all email from arriving to your phone. I was avoiding that, because I still want to receive text messages from time to time, from people I actually know - not crushers. This option is perfect, because it blocks all the crap that comes from the internet mailboxes, but still allows you to receive actual text messages from another phone.

I'm now crush free. I think. If it was an accidental mistake (yeah, right, a dozen mistakes) then maybe they will have to stop the service now and whatever dope started this will have to start over to find true love by text message. And if it's intentional -- but it can't be, can it, nobody knows my number? -- then I need to keep watching my phone for add-on services charged, or possibly deal with future crushing pranks. I still don't really understand what happened. But it was certainly a very crushy weekend.