Lileks: You can't escape the phone books

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2012 - 4:45 PM

Two early signs that winter is not eternal: Girl Scout Cookies, and the arrival of the massive, unrequested, unwanted pulp-dump called "The Phone Books." You can stuff the phone books in your pants to see what it'll feel like when you're done with the Girl Scout cookies.

Everyone likes the cookies. No one wants the phone books. Last year I believe we got 27 of them.

There's the White Pages, a massive alphabetical compendium of people you will never speak to in your life; the Yellow Pages, which most people consult about as often as the pope consults a deck of tarot cards; and the Other Enormous Duplicate Yellow Pages, which could be completely blank except for the number of the taxi company printed on the side, because that's all anyone ever uses it for.

OK, some people love the phone book. When the new one comes out, I like seeing who tried to be first this year -- how A-A-A-A Fonzie Impersonators Inc. was beat by AAAAAAA Dental. The last entry used to be the Zzyzzeriffic Funline, which played monologues of a blind guy who described his daily life into a tape recorder. This was so compelling they invented the Internet to spread the idea around.

But once we had the Internet, phone books were obsolete. Hence my delight to see on my doorknob a card from Dex with this message: Call this number to cancel.

You could do it online, but you know what that means: login! Forgot your password? Click here! Not a member? Sign up! It's like getting married just so you can get a divorce. The phone was answered by an actual human, and I was removed from the list.

Thanks, but really: You should have to call if you want them, not to stop them from coming. Imagine a company that left a dead cow on your doorstep once a year without asking. Wouldn't you prefer the opt-in approach?

I told my wife about the card on the door, how I canceled the books. "Why didn't you take the card off the knob?" she asked.

Eh? I had. Went to the front door, and they'd delivered another one in just the last two hours.

Perhaps that's the one I use to cancel the duplicate set.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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