Remember when Jerry Brown ran against Bill Clinton in 1992 for the Democratic presidential nomination? If not, that's okay ... but if you'd like more information on our future POTUS, you can still call his 1-800 number. It still works.
There are photos of Brown holding his 800 hotline number while campaigning, because at the time it was state of the art. Yes, 800 numbers are still popular and will most likely always be in demand, but back in 1992 it was a huge deal to be able to reach a candidate free of charge.
There's no denying that websites can get outdated; you're probably embarrassed about that old MySpace (News - Alert) account. Basically, everything online can get buried by improved search engine optimization (SEO). However, it's been more than 20 years since Brown introduced us to his 800 number, and it's still alive and kicking.
You can give it a call to hear his hotline message, which is still full of all kinds of nomination-laced political correctness while working on taking down Clinton's campaigns.
Image via Shutterstock
Talk about a throwback
The message states, "Hello, you have reached the political office for Governor Jerry Brown. If you are calling for his office in Sacramento, please hang up and dial area code 916-445-2841. Again, if you have questions for Gov. Jerry Brown, please call his capitol office in Sacramento at 916-445-2841. Thanks for the call."
One reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub, decided to have a little fun of his own and left a message for Brown.
"Hello, this is Peter Hartlaub. I'm a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm working on a story related to the Jerry Brown 1-800 number. I was wondering who is assigned to pick up messages for the 1-800 number, how many messages you get per month, and where the call center is currently located. My direct number is 510-XXX-XXXX. Thank you and have a great day."
Hartlaub isn't holding his breath for a return call, but he's guessing there must be a reason the line is still active. Maybe it's for people who were in a coma for two decades, or time travelers.
What this really means
The fact that Brown's hotline still works is funny and kooky, but it also says a lot about the staying power of the 800 number.
You can imagine how surprised Hartlaub was when Brown's office actually did call him back and left the following voicemail: "We get about one call a day (high estimate) which is usually a mis-dial of United Airlines Group Reservations (800-426-1122). The number was featured in the Real World San Francisco. MTV recently re-ran the show and we got about 15 colorful voicemails (the episode with the number ran late at night). Messages are picked up by volunteers."
Brown didn't win the nomination, but his supporters are still going strong. "He's so gloriously old school," says Hartlaub. However, 800 numbers are hardly old school and they'll likely never go out of style.
Critics say there's no need for them since nearly everyone has smartphones that can make long distance calls free of charge. So why are 800 numbers still active (excepting Brown's, of course, which doesn't get many calls these days)?
People call 800 numbers from their office landlines where there's no cell phone reception. They remember the numbers because they often contain catchy messages (like 1-800-PHONICS), and because what difference does it make if you dial an 800 first or not?
Many people have positive memories of 800 numbers, because they're tied to the word "free." You probably scan websites and brochures for that 800 beacon, inevitably drawn toward it more than a regular old phone number.
As for Brown? Perhaps he's preparing a comeback. Has anyone checked his Twitter (News - Alert) feed lately or know what he's up to?
Edited by Blaise McNamee