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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Encounters with the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade [20091125|14:22]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Over the past three days, my work colleague & I have received phone calls on our shared office phone from a chap who is becoming increasingly weird. He will only identify himself as "James", which he tells us is not his real name (?!) and he refuses to give us his number.

During the first call, he pestered my work colleague to give him the contact information of an ex-colleague. My work colleague refused, partly because we don't actually have contact information for him other than a personal mobile number, which we certainly weren't going to give to someone who refused to give us a real name.

During the second call, he asked if it were possible to beam information directly into someone's brain using a laser. He informed us that he believed someone was doing this to him. My work colleague assured him it was not possible to do this without him noticing (e.g. being put inside a CAT scanner).

I answered the third call, confusing "James". He tried to ask for my work colleague but he couldn't remember his name ("Foreign chap. Maybe Eastern European." Said colleague is Dutch.) and I wasn't about to help him. He asked me if the college had any sort of device for measuring microwave radiation. Yes, I said, it does. He asked if he could borrow it or buy it from us. No, I said, you can't. Why? he asked, becoming belligerent. Because it's purpose-built and it's not for sale, I answered.

"Look, can I talk to the guy I spoke to before?" he asked.
"No, there's no one else here right now. If you leave a number and a message, I can figure out who it is and ask him to phone you back," I answered in my brightest breeziest American.
"I don't have a number," he grumbled.
"Well, that's a shame," I said.
"I'll try again later," he growled.

If he calls again, I'm going to tell him that the next transmission from the laser will erase our phone number from his brain.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 20:05 (UTC)
Don't worry. If he does phone again, I'll just ask him to stop calling as politely as possible.
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[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2009-11-25 20:04 (UTC)
My department periodically gets emails with this crazy, who on the one hand admits they know nothing about linguistics and on the other hand thinks they have discovered some kind of Unified Theory of Language Via "Real" Phonetics and all of the rest of us are confused/oppressing people.

They are usually the highlight of my day when they show up. They're crazy and I love them.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 20:06 (UTC)
Why is it that such people always feel the need to emphasize random words with ALL CAPS? If it's not that, it's web pages with neon pink text and animated dancing unicorn backgrounds.
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[User Picture]From: becala
2009-11-25 20:14 (UTC)
Oh boy, it's always hard to take calls like that/deal with folks like that. I had a special friend when I worked in the computer center who was paranoid schizophrenic, and I had to take Official Steps to get him to stop harassing me.

I hope this person finds some help instead of calling your laboratory again.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:27 (UTC)
No calls today. I think he might now be afraid of speaking to me instead of my work colleague. I believe I was a lot less tolerant of his bizarre requests.
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[User Picture]From: minirth
2009-11-25 20:46 (UTC)
If he calls again, I'm going to tell him that the next transmission from the laser will erase our phone number from his brain.

That is FANTASTIC!!!

Because it's purpose-built and it's not for sale, I answered.

You guys should build a fake device and sell it to him for a ridiculous amount of money!!!
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From: alice_mccoy
2009-11-25 21:06 (UTC)
Ahh yes we used to get a call a month from a young sounding man who always asked if we were wearing brown knickers.

After months of following protocol for wierdo calls my colleague in her poshest voice said "For goodness sake no one with any taste wears brown" and hung up. He never called back.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:43 (UTC)
What a lovely ending to the story. You could even view the repetition of calls as beneficial, since they provided ample thinking time for witty retorts.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:59 (UTC)
You have to be a bit loony to want to fork over money for an item that the person who built it has just told you won't do what you want it to do. Sheesh.

Edited at 2009-11-26 08:00 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2009-11-25 22:15 (UTC)
When I was doing my PhD the lab I worked in was listed in the phone book as the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Lab. Obviously the cyclotron part jumped out at people and we got a few calls accusing us of refining various sorts of nuclear material.

I was a young serious person and it always confused me, but I wish now that I had thought of having some fun with them.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:24 (UTC)
It's difficult to think of witty remarks under pressure. I always think of them much too late.
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2009-11-26 20:42 (UTC)
My problem is actually usually the reverse.
I think of and say a "witty" remark only to find that while it is funny it is also invariably quite insulting.

Recently regarding a work colleague who broke up the marriage of the then now ex-CEO another workmate said.

"I think she is avoiding [workmate Y] because he has been hassling her about not doing anything at work. He tends to call a spade a spade"
To which I without missing a beat said
"I don't know, I think if you had to call her a garden implement it wouldn't be a spade"

(Yes that is a bad ho/hoe "joke")

I have now had several people come and congratulate me on the joke, which I am very embarrassed about actually making.

Awkard.

Congrats on the Leave to Remain stuff. Britain apparently does know what is good for it.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:21 (UTC)
I won't. I always answer the phone very formally.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-26 19:21 (UTC)
That's the most stylish tin foil hat I've ever seen.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2009-11-27 14:25 (UTC)
*lol*

My supervisor, Lyndsay, used to get weird people calling. One guy called her and asked if it would be possible to see cosmic ray flashes in a bucket of cleaning fluid. He explained that he as sitting on the floor in his burnt out kitchen watching a bucket of cleaning fluid under the sink and thought he saw a flash...

I feel kind of sorry for that guy.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-11-29 15:33 (UTC)
Sounds like he needed a bit more excitement in his life. Perhaps she should suggest he take up skydiving. You know, to see if he could catch up with a few more of those cosmic rays.
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