News story: "Hiker lost for 24 hours ignored calls from rescuers because of unknown number."

This seems understandable. Nowadays, when the phone rings we expect it is someone attempting to contact us about our car warranty. It is unlikely that they would send a helicopter to the woods to help us when we get lost, but who knows? We never give them the chance.

"Press 2 if you wish to be added to our do-not-call list," the robocalls say. Right. That'll work. What you want is "Press 2 if you wish to send a painful electrical charge into the back molars of the person behind this operation, liquefying his fillings." But this option is never tendered.

Sometimes I answer the calls. "What?" you say. "No! Then they know the number's good, and you'll get more calls!" Eh. So I get 10 a day instead of eight. It can be cathartic to play with them, depending on the scam. Now and then I get someone who tells me my Windows Computer is expiring because of viruses. I have a Mac. I like to waste their time.

"Hello, this is Mike, from the Windows."

"Mike? As in Mike Rosoft?"

"Yes. How are you? Can you hear me?"

The cardinal rule of talking to these thieves is never to say "yes," because they can snip that word and pretend you gave them permission to do something.

So you say: "My auditory canal is unblocked and your sound waves are striking my eardrum, translating the input into electrical impulses that my brain decodes as speech, so affirmative."

They plow along, reading from the script, until I get bored and stab the 2 key and wait for the yipe of shock and discomfort. Oh, right, that doesn't work.

The calls are announced in two ways on my phone: One says "Telemarketer," which is honest, and the other is SPAM RISK. I got a SPAM RISK call from Austin Minn., and thought: "Is the Hormel factory about to blow up?" If a couple of far-flung cans come through the window afterwards, I can't say I wasn't warned.

Last week I got six SPAM RISK calls from Lindstrom, Minn. This was unusually persistent. I finally answered.

There was a brief sound of a vast room with lots of people talking, then the line disconnected. Oh, no, my friend, that's not how it works. You don't hang up on me. I called Lindstrom back. A recording said they were trying to get in touch with me about my Medicare problems.

I hung up and called back. A different voice said they were calling me about — get this — my health insurance or car warranty situation. I called a third time, expecting to be told that my Social Security had a virus that would ruin my power steering.

When I ran the number through a reverse directory, it said it did not exist in Lindstrom. So here's what I suggest: The town council of Lindstrom should sue these miserable scum de la scum for besmirching their city. When I see the name I think it's a den of villainous iniquity, even though I know that no one in Lindstrom cares at all about my car warranty.

Anyway, bottom line, don't answer the phone, even if you're lost in the woods. We're all texting now. The telephone had a nice long run, but sorry: Turns out the telegraph is better.

Update: I just got a text from Lindstrom, in Morse code. These people ruin everything. • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks •