GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR. This is the "Original Prankster" episode and my name is Glynn Washington. Now, rare is the prank that is pulled for absolutely no reason. Usually the prankster is looking for some kind of human connection. And listen close now because this is an original radio drama by SNAP JUDGMENT's Stephanie Foo.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Voice acted by Sam Rada) Jenny listened, that's what I liked about her. I liked a lot of things, like how she always tripped going up the stairs, how she ate all the parts of the salad I didn't like, and the way she zipped up her dress. But the best thing of all was when she would ask me...
JENNY: (Voice acted by Lindsey Lee Keel) Hey, honey. How was your day?
MAN: Sometimes I told the truth, most of the time I just made stuff up. I'd invent terrible sales calls and Japanese Fusion lunches when all I'd really had was Burger King. I did it to make her laugh and I did it to fill up the space because as good as Jenny was at listening, she didn't talk about herself much. Whenever I asked how her day went, she just said
MAN: OK good? OK bad? Come on, how was work?
JENNY: Just OK.
MAN: One day she seemed even less OK than usual. I missed her laugh. So all of a sudden, I thought of this prank I used to pull back in high school. I pulled my computer out and said, you ever heard of IP-Relay?
MAN: It's a chat service for deaf people so they can make phone calls. Like, say I can't hear but I want to call my friend Bob. I put in Bob's number and the operator will call him. I type in, hello, Bob, and she'll talk to him for me. She'll say, hello, Bob. And whatever Bob says back, she'll transcribe it and type it back to me. Get it?
MAN: Let me show you. I typed Jenny's number to the IP-Relay site. Her phone rang, she answered it. The woman on the other line said...
PHONE OPERATOR: You are receiving a call from a person who is using a computer and an IP-Relay service. Will you accept this call?
MAN: I typed, how are you today, Jenny?
OPERATOR: How are you today, Jenny?
JENNY: I'm good.
MAN: On my screen, I saw Jenny's words in front of me. I'm good. Not fine, not OK.
OPERATOR: I love you.
JENNY: I love you too.
OPERATOR: What did you do today?
JENNY: I had a fried chicken sandwich for lunch and I wrote copy. And I complained about how my boss never washes her dishes. And I went to the store and bought new lipstick.
MAN: It's crazy, but she'd never said that much about her work life in one go before.
OPERATOR: What color is your lipstick? I want to imagine you wearing it.
JENNY: It's cherry red.
OPERATOR: That sounds nice. I miss you, Jenny. The gap in your teeth fills the void in my heart.
MAN: Jenny looked at me with acid in her eyes, but then the corner of her cherry red mouth turned up.
JENNY: I miss you too. I miss the musky, woodchuck scent of your chest pelt.
OPERATOR: Oh Jenny, I get so excited. Oh how I like it. I try but I can't fight it. Oh you're dancing real close, real, real slow.
JENNY: You're making it hard for me to be apart from you.
OPERATOR: This service is solely for the hearing impaired.
JENNY: The poor woman.
MAN: I think I read somewhere like 90 percent of their calls are prank calls.
JENNY: Oh my God, I feel so bad for her, but not that bad.
OPERATOR: You are receiving a call from a person is using a computer...
MAN: We started doing this all the time, whenever we needed a good laugh. Sometimes I felt like Jenny was talking to the IP-Relay lady more than she was talking to me. It seemed like we always got the same lady. There was no way to be sure, but she always got fed up whenever we couldn't hold it anymore and started cracking up. But even though we torturing her, I started looking forward to hearing IP-Relay lady's voice.
OPERATOR: Baby, if you were a bottle of wine, you'd be in the $15 to $25 range. You remind me of Panda Express because you make my heart go Kung Pao. Hufflepuffs make squishy bottoms, I want you to walk into my wonder palace and eat marshmallows off my bumble boo (ph).
MAN: Jenny broke up with me over text message.
JENNY: I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry, it's over.
MAN: That was it. Concise as always. Then she stopped returning my calls. She even left all of her stuff. I heard from my buddy later that she started dating one of her coworkers. I guess I kind of went nuts for a while. I didn't leave my house for two months and I stopped talking to everybody. Well, except for one person. Late at night, I'd type my own number into IP-Relay.
OPERATOR: You are receiving a call from a person who is using a computer and IP-Relay service. Will you accept this call?
OPERATOR: Hey, honey. How was your day?
MAN: It was great. I had an ahi tuna burrito from that truck again. How was your day?
MAN: I love you.
OPERATOR: I love you too.
WASHINGTON: That piece was written and produced by SNAP JUDGMENT's, Stephanie Foo. Big thanks to our voice actors, Sam Rada and Lindsey Lee Keel for their help. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.