Although rock-n-roll, cheap gas, television, sugar substitutes, and idle hands may well be the tools of the devil, for hands-down, no-contest, pure for-all-intents-and-purposes evil, ya' gotta have a telephone.

As everyone knows, a town of any size has phones, and their purpose is to make people stop whatever wholesome and darnright sensible thing they might be doing and scamper in mad Pavlovian fashion through their domiciles at breakneck speeds (or plunge heedlessly into the depths off their personal towage) to make physical contact with the telephone before, Heaven forbid!, it stops ringing. The sheer number of injuries and property damage caused by these capering scrambles is vastly undocumented, but if you speak with any emergency room doctor, they'll tell you no end of tales about people breaking fingers, arms, legs, hips, and sometimes ending their very lives in their madcap efforts to reach the phone. It's as if our entire culture has been trained to play a gigantic game of musical chairs at the drop of a hat: the music can start at any time, but, of course, we all know the music will end after three, four, five, sometimes even seven rings. And if you haven't found yourself a seat by that moment, you don't have any short at winning Ms. Johnson's home-made peach cobbler; instead, you'll have to take your quarters to a vending machine and settle for some M&Ms. Or, worse, Mentos. Some people would say from that that the Fates are cruel, but that ain't so: they just got other things to worry about.

As we all know, solitary damnation is a terrible thing, but it's somehow better to share one's interminably damned state with others, if only to know that they suffer as much as you do, and you are not alone in being subject to the evil that makes up the universe. And so it came to pass that those bat-winged, sulfphur-scented fiends in charge of the telephone-damned down there in Ring Five invented the Conference Call, whereby many people can be made to simultaneously cartwheel, stumble, sprint, somersault, dive through the air, and alternately climb and descend several floors in order to affirm to each other that, yes, the universe is not fair and the Devil is a cruel taskmaster, but at least they all share the same fate, and the same time, and are subject to the same inane ringing, followed by the same inane patter utterly devoid of content, meaning, and purpose.

But then, the Prince of Flies, Demon of the Underworld, Scourge of Humanity, Castigate of Heaven, Universal Champion Pitchfork-Toter, He of the Red Skin and Cloven Hooves, had a thought. Why should people attempting to negotiate their way through traffic in the United States's most congested metropolitan area be exempt from the agonizing fits of apoplectic agitation induced by the most nefarious of ringing, chiming, and tone-emitting devices? Think of the chaos they could engender! And they're already so well trained and indoctrinated! Why, in a few short years, the damning power of the wretched diabolic device could expand exponentially! Zounds! The howling laughter of Asmodeus and Beezlebub can still be heard echoing through the pipes, sewers, and subways of our great metropolises... in fact, some scholars speculate they're still laughing, because—being for all intents and purposes immortal and thus unrestricted by common laws of physiology—their expressions of merriment need not be interrupted by any requirement to inhale or relieve one's self. And we huddled masses, plebes, mere mortals, grist before the mills of divine and diabolic machinations, can only twitch futilily and race headlong for the next ringing sound we hear, as if our very souls depended on it. Woe is our station; loathing our lot in life; futility our succor; deafness a devoutly wish'd but unfulfillable recourse.

Phone. Hate. Smash. Yes. Grr.

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