Below is a high school English essay that Jammie wrote in 1999 and recently stumbled across. We can only assume that this paper helped her retain her 4.0 average. At the end you’ll notice she credits phoneloser.org. Yes, phonelosers.org could actually be accessed via phoneloser.org for a short time in the late 90’s. Today you’ll find that phoneloser.org is still held by a domain squatter.
by Jammie B.
Go Away PLA!
Just who the hell is ROY anyway??
What child or adolescent hasn’t, at one time or another, made or been tempted to make a prank phone call? The reactions of the victims are priceless. People get a kick out of hearing the frustrations of others and laughing at their stupidity. It is sick humor, but god is it funny.
I know I began prank calling when I was nine. A few friends of mine were sitting around, bored, and decided to just call random numbers from the telephone book and say things like “Is your refrigerator running? You should go get it!” and hang up, often to nervous to stay on the line and hear their response, but laughing just the same. This fun ended though when a few days later a man did a *69 and my father picked up. Needless to say, I was almost deaf from the screaming when my father was done with me.
I fondly remembered my prank calling days, but I was only able to relive them when I met a group called the PLA (The Phone Losers of America) on the internet. Not only were they hilarious with their over the phone antics, but they also knew how to screw over the telephone company and make it so that they would never get caught. It was a dream come true for me. From then on, my friend Zak would give me a call and then three-way it to a prank call, or I would go on illegal (meaning free!!) party lines with my friends and harass telephone operators. It was the best.
It then came to a point where I felt the need to see why I got such a kick out of this. I as having all this fun, but I’m a nice person! I noticed that all the PLA guys were really sweet and not the delinquents that they portrayed in their phone calls. Why were we so rotton?
Then I realized what a power trip it was. There Zak and I were, two 16 year old kids having the power to control the emotions of unsuspecting adults and people we didn’t like. I remember at one point we called my French neighbor who lives 4 houses away from me and had Zak scream “Viva la Revolucion!!” until she said, “Szhoo ahhre vaary seeke people!!” and hung up on us. We died laughing. This was a lady that no more than a few minutes beforehand had been my elder, a woman I was forced to respect. Now she was my prey. I had control over her temper. It was an ego boost.
For years, kids like Zak and I are told that we should obey our parents, respect others, and follow the rules. The teenage years are often very confusing for adolescents because they are trapped in this world where they are still too young to be considered adults and too old to be considered children. We are told to “act our age,” but yet our age doesn’t have a way to act. We are the in between-ers. Should we go hang out with our friends or get a job? There are all these decisions that teenagers are faced with that still will not let society call them adults or children. Prank calling was a way for Zak and I to let out these frustrations. We took matters into our own hands and decided to have the power to drive adults insane in a very childish, but complex manner.
The PLA wasn’t like my nine-year old days when a simple *69 could destroy my cover. Screwing over the telephone company and harassing people without getting caught actually took a lot of work. It required a lot of knowledge about phone, the way the telephone company is set up, and what precautions should be taken so that we wouldn’t get caught. It makes one feel almost superior when they can figure out how to rip off a major phone company or long distance carrier. RedBoxChilliPepper, at that time the president of the PLA, wrote issues and issues of e-zines citing hundreds of different ways to get one over on the phone companies and drive people crazy without getting in trouble for it. I learned how to use a red box (A device that imitates the noises made by pay phone when money is inserted. This makes the pay phone think that it is being given money, hence, free calls!!) and for a time even got my own free 1-800 number. I was saving money and was sneaky enough not to get busted.
I also felt important being part of a group that did this. I was never in the PLA, but since I was friends with almost all of them, they would include me in a lot of their pranks, or give me useable credit card or phone card numbers to call them. It really brought a group like us together. We were all nice kids, just a little bit odd. We were the nerds and computer geeks (especially if you consider that we met over the computer) that could get together and get back at all the people and establishments that pissed us off. It was a bonding experience.
Before I found the PLA in a chat room of mine that got taken over by them, I was a lonely kid. I was “different” and not accepted into the “cool” crowd because of the way I was. I wasn’t into my looks or materialistic like many of my peers were. When the PLA came into my life, it was almost like a calling. These were my people. They were quirky and not quite liked in their towns either. Alone, we were nobodies, but united, we were practically unstoppable. With all our free time alone, we learned how to do things that the average snotty teenager would never dream of. I finally belonged somewhere. I was not alone. Despite what we did, I felt good knowing that I was a part of something. This feeling was the basis for the PLA.
The PLA, much like the chat rooms that we met each other in, also allowed its members to hide under an alias. No one ever used their real name. I was “jammie,” Zak (which is still not even his real name) was “el_jefe,” and there was RedBoxChilliPepper, Colleen Card… and just so many other strange names of the people who were in or associated with the PLA. When we had these names, we were all unidentifiable with the people we were previously. We could be completely different personalities with these names for ourselves. It was a way of letting out our crazy sides. These were the sides of us that we were always told by our peers and elders were “bad” and “wrong.” We were different, and with these new names we were allowed to show it by being someone that the people we knew would not have expected from us. We could even make our name express something about ourselves. My “jammie” name had to do with my passion for Pearl Jam. “El_Jefe” came from Zak’s silly way of saying that he was the boss.
Many of us perhaps wanted a new name to, in a way, take a vacation from our own lives. We were all kids dealing with the usual problems of life, but also having to deal with the fact that many people considered us uncool or different. We were the outcasts. In using our different names, we could be whoever or however we wanted to be, and not have to worry about the people we knew in real life looking down on us for it. In fact, our phone mayhem allowed us to, in some twisted way, take our revenge on the people who would piss us off or treat us badly. Phones were our domain, and god help the person that messed with us. Instead of being deemed unworthy by our peers, with our phone phreaking and new names, we were allowed to deem the people unworthy and drive them crazy because of it.
It was a definite god-like feeling the others and I got when we managed to harass someone to the point of even changing their number. Either RedBox or Zak called up Glen Danzig from the famous band Danzig and said “Sir, you have a collect call from hell. Will you accept the charges?” He changed his number the next day. That is definite power. It is also power when you know enough about phones and getting around the system to shut off a person’s plumbing, electricity, gas, and have them declared legally dead even though they are walking around totally helpless to the things going on around them.
Now, I would feel sorry for the people that were the victims, but most of the time they brought the harassment to themselves. Most of the people that became PLA victims would start off by mistreating one of the PLA members, not knowing what they were capable of. The PLA was pretty much created for the purpose of getting back at these people. Prank calling is a way of getting back at the people that put you down for no reason. In the PLA, the outcasts united and were able to choose their victims from the wide variety of people that insisted on trying to make their lives hell for their own amusement. Because of the PLA, the bullies would get bullied for once.
An example of this would be when the girlfriend of my best internet friend, vel0city, came online and started bad-mouthing me for no reason. She would say that I was obsessed with him, and that she didn’t like me because he would talk to me so much. The PLA took care of me and called up her house. She was almost at the point of tears when they were done because they made her get in trouble with her mother. Still, it didn’t matter what they did. The damage was done. I felt so hurt that she could think these horrible things of me simple because I was a good friend with her boyfriend.
The PLA seem almost nice in comparison to many of its victims. At least the frustration that the PLA would bring to these bullies was harmless. The victims could hang up their phones and forget about it. Unfortunately, the people behind the PLA had to deal with these insults that didn’t go away as easily. Despite the aliases and the power of the organization, the PLA and its friends were all just human beings capable of being hurt.
I can even recall back when I first met the PLA. I thought they were a bunch of mean morons, and told them so. I was kick-banned from my internet channel for days afterward. Eventually I got frustrated and gave up. I decided to try being nice to them for a change. They were mean to me, but not malicious. I actually even found them quite funny. Eventually they saw that I was a nice person and I saw the same in them. I was no longer a target for them once they realized I didn’t deserve it.
It’s sad when one thinks that the only way for the outcasts to defend themselves from society is to do malicious things like the PLA does. It is a lot of fun, but in the end I think we all realize that it does hurt people. I’m sure we all wish that there was no reason to have to start an organization based on revenge. This though, is unfortunately how the world works. If people are different or do not follow the norm, they are ostracized and looked down upon. Teenage years are especially difficult for this reason. We don’t know who we should be or what we should do.
Even so, I must say that my experience as a good friend of the PLA’s has been a lot of fun. It is just easier to sleep at night knowing that if I ever had a serious problem with someone, that they could help me. They are like the big brothers I have never had, and the friends that in this harsh society of materialistic and trendy people, I could never have found anywhere else. I couldn’t have been luckier or had more fun.
3. interviews with “dhate” from #cuervoradio on IRC.