#82 Hello?

November 17, 2016

Alex and PJ take calls from anyone, about anything, for 48 hours straight.

Thank yous

Adam Quinn (for setting up our phone system)
Peter Nelson (for his excellent horn playing)
The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder (for going above and beyond this week)
Matt Farley
Jorge Just
Austin Thompson
Build Buildings
Everyone who called

 

Show transcript

PJ VOGT: From Gimlet, this is Reply All. I’m PJ Vogt.

If you’re a regular listener to the show, you may have heard of Matt Farley. Matt’s a musician, but not a typical musician. Rather than being a guy who, you know, sits down every day and tries to write one big hit song that everybody in the world is gonna love, Matt sits down every day and writes between 20 and 100 songs. His idea is rather than trying to write a hit song, he just writes so many songs that people will just end up listening to each one maybe once or twice, and he’ll make a few cents off of each of them, and that way he will find a way to make a living as a songwriter.

Matt has written over 18,000 songs. He’s got happy birthday songs for pretty much every name you could come up with. He’s written songs praising every city in a state. He’s done 7 albums that were basically all about cleaning his toilet.

But recently I’ve been thinking about Matt because of this other unusual thing Matt does, which is that in a lot of these 18,000 songs scattered across the internet, Matt puts his actual cell phone number in them. So if someone hears it, and they call that number, they will call him. And Matt picks up those calls. Matt says that for the last 4 years, he’s gotten at least a call a day. He estimates in total he’s gotten about 1500 calls. His wife makes him silence his phone before he goes to sleep, but if he misses a call overnight he’ll text an apology in the morning and tell the person to call back. He gets calls from jerks, he gets sent dick pics. But Matt says that the bad stuff is rare. He says on the whole, he’s just met more wonderful, strange, sweet people than a lot of us meet in a lifetime.

We wanted to find out what it would be like to do that. Just try to be totally open to random human connection for a little while. So last month we performed an experiment. We broadcast a phone number to the world. And for 48 hours, whenever somebody called that phone, it rang on both my personal cell phone and Alex’s personal cell phone, and we’d pick up. We’d talk about whatever they wanted to talk about.

ALEX: I just want to test it right now and see if it works.

PJ: If Alex accidentally hangs up, or doesn’t pick up the phone …

We started at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 10th. We ended up getting 105,000 calls, and answered as many as we could.


ALEX GOLDMAN: (singing) Check check check check. [feedback] Whoops, sorry! What? That’s dumb.

PJ: Here’s what happened.

ALEX: Check check check! (singing) I’m recording my voice, I’m recording my voice!

DAMIANO MARCHETTI: It’s way too hot.

ALEX: (singing) I’m recording my voice, but it’s way too hot. Do you like to have friends?

DAMIANO: (laughs)

ALEX: There we go. Alright, are we ready?

PJ: Yeah, you ready?

ALEX: Here we go.

PJ: Do you have any predictions about what this is going to be like?

ALEX: I don’t think I’m gonna sleep. I think it’s just gonna be, like, hanging out.

[phone rings]

ALEX: (inhales) Alright, here we go.

AUTOMATED MALE VOICE: Welcome to the conference. It is Monday, October 11th 10 a.m. You are being recorded.

[Phone picks up]

ALEX: Hello?

PJ: Hello?

WOMAN: Hi! I’m — I’m gonna be super honest up front, I have never heard of your show until yesterday.

ALEX & PJ: Nice!

PJ: Who are you?

WOMAN: Claudia, from Virginia.

PJ: Hi Claudia.

ALEX: So is there anything that we can help you with? Do you have questions for us, or … ?

CLAUDIA: Oh, yeah. Umm … uh, oh … oh shoot! (laughs) What … is … something in history that makes you laugh?

ALEX: Something in history that makes me laugh?

CLAUDIA: Yeah, I’m cringing at myself right now, but go ahead.

PJ: Uh, I feel like everything in history’s like a big tragedy. It’s like, what? Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, like what’s the funny historical event?

CLAUDIA: Well, that’s actually a really funny historical event.

PJ: How?

ALEX: Wait, why?

CLAUDIA: (laughs slightly) I’ve written … I’ve written a few articles about this. Um, OK, so did you ever hear about one of the assassins, Lewis Powell?

PJ: I didn’t even know there was more than one assassin.

CLAUDIA: Oh yeah, no, it was a whole group. Actually, part of the group was a woman, who was the first … woman executed by the federal government in this country.

PJ: Really?


CLAUDIA: That’s not funny though. Yeah, that’s not the funny part.

PJ: OK, wait, tell me the punchline in the Lincoln assassination.

CLAUDIA: OK, um … so one of the assassins, who’s Lewis Powell, and you’ve probably seen his picture because a lot of people think he’s – think he’s hot. Um, (laughs) it was so fu- his job was to kill the secretary of state, William H. Seward.

Uh, he was just the worst assassin ever. He went to Seward’s house and Seward had just been injured in a carriage accident, so he’s in a body cast or whatever, you know, in bed, super easy target. Uh, Powell goes in, stabs everybody. There’s like seven other people in the house, he stabs everybody, he gets to the Secretary of State, stabs the Secretary of State like 20 times, stabs a telegraph messenger on the way out — nobody dies!

PJ: (laughs)

CLAUDIA: And then the telegraph messenger, not even supposed to be there, right? Paralyzed for life.

PJ: Oh that’s sad. That’s not funny.

CLAUDIA: That’s less fun — OK wait, hold on, Lewis Powell, though, after he does all his stabbing? Gets lost for three days.

PJ: Wait, gets lost for three days?

CLAUDIA: Yeah, he — he had never been to DC before and he just gets lost.

PJ: So he’s just, like, wandering around, having committed an attempted assassination, and not only is he lost but, like, there’s not, like, a manhunt that finds him?

CLAUDIA: (laughs) Not for three days. They finally found him, like, hiding under a bridge.

PJ: That’s insane!

CLAUDIA: Yeah. The call quality – quality is really good. I don’t know what I expected, but I – I think I expected something … much different. I don’t know.

ALEX: Yeah, I don’t know what you expected either. Because you’ve never heard the show before.

CLAUDIA: (laughs) I never — I really, yeah, this was really fun. Awesome.

ALEX: Take care!

CLAUDIA: Alright, bye.

PJ: Have a good one.

ALEX: Bye.

[call hang-up tone]

[phone pick-up tone]

WOMAN: Hi.

ALEX: Hello? [pause] Hey, this is Alex.

WOMAN: [indistinct] gave me this number to call about a podcast.

ALEX: (laughs) I’m sorry, who — who’s on the phone right now?

JEAN COCO: This is Jean Coco. Um, my daughter works The Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill, she gave me this phone number … to use to comment on a podcast. Do you know anything about this? Maybe she gave me the wrong number.

ALEX: No, no no no, you’ve got the right number. Um … but this is Alex Goldman, I’m the host of, uh, Reply All, what can I do for you?

JEAN: OK?

ALEX: (quietly laughs)

JEAN: Well, she sent me — my daughter sent me this phone number and said, “Call this number to comment on our podcast.” So do you know anything about this, I-85 podcast?

ALEX: Nooo … uh, I do host a podcast, but not … the I-85 podcast.

JEAN: OK. I’m gonna have to regroup with her, I’m sorry to have bothered you.

ALEX: (laughs) No problem, take care.

JEAN: OK, alright, bye.

PJ: Bye.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Monday, 11 a.m. Hour one.

[phone hang-up tone, phone pick-up tone]

MAN 1: Hello?

MAN 2: Hello?

ALEX: Hello?

MAN 1: Hi, can you hear me?

ALEX: Yes I can. There’s two people on the line!

PJ: It’s pandemonium!

ALEX: Yeah, we’re ha- we’re having some technical difficulties — there’s two callers.

MILES: Oh, we — I’m Miles.

ALEX: Who else is on there?

DEVIN: I’m Devin.

ALEX: Hi, Miles and Devin.

PJ: Woah, this is not supposed to be possible. You guys like … you guys, like, stepped through a time travel portal. It’s like The Fly, even though I haven’t seen that.

MILES: Devin where are you from?

DEVIN: Uh, I’m from Los Angeles. Santa Monica.

MILES: Oh shit, I’m — I’m from Brooklyn —

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: Alright, well you guys just do the interview, we’re just gonna hang back and just see what happens.

[phone rings]

ALEX: Hello?

PJ: Hey who’s calling?

MATT FARLEY: Matt Farley.

ALEX: Matt Farley?!

PJ: Hey Matt! You were on Jimmy Fallon recently?

MATT: Yeah, wasn’t that great? (laughs)

ALEX: How did that happen?

MATT: I just, uh — they called me out of the blue and they said, uh, “Hi. We’re from The Tonight Show, and we were wondering if you would —” And before they even finished the sentence, I said, “Yes!”

ALEX & PJ: (laugh)

PJ: And how was it?

MATT: It was fantastic! Had the time of my life. Um, the piano was nice, I felt comfortable. I felt … I felt like I belonged there, gosh darnit. I had fun fighting with the people who wrote negative things about me on YouTube.

ALEX: (laughs) What did people say about you?

MATT: Uh, “ This guy — ” “This is a cringe-worthy song,” “I could write 20 songs a day if they were as dumb as this,” etcetera, etcetera.

PJ: What’d you say to them?

MATT: I – I – I gave them a link to my song called “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.”

ALEX & PJ: (laugh)

ALEX: You know, Matt, um, I feel like m- me and PJ have learned a lot about how to handle criticism from you.

MATT: Nice! Yeah, well, I mean w- I got a lot from the — the TLDR.

PJ: Of criticism?

MATT: Yeah! Well, it was mixed, but I mean, there — I was definitely a l- you know, a lot of people [indistinct, wind sound] When people hear that I do so much music, then … they kind of want to poke holes in it, sort of. For some reason. Or just, like, find a way to prove that … um, I don’t have talent, you know?

PJ: Like, where do you think that comes from?

MATT: People have this false, uh, myth of the – the tortured artist who wanders the field and is struck by inspiration after suffering. You know, they have to suffer, and they – they gotta be a drug addict, and – and – and just be sad and miserable and, uh, heartbroken, and then be struck by magical inspiration. And they don’t want to know the truth — the truth is that you just got to work every day. And you make stuff, and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. And it — so, you know, I’m kind of crushing that myth for them.

PJ: Do you think that if you said that you were suffering they would be … happy?

MATT: Yes! Yes and I think most tortured artists are faking it —

PJ: (laughs)

MATT: — dating back as far as Van Gogh.

PJ: (laughs)

MATT: Who met with a marketer … who said, “You know, look, Vince. Cut a little bit —”

PJ: (laughing)

MATT: “— of your ear off, and people will start talking and the price of your – your pictures is gonna skyrocket.” It’s all — everything’s a sham. Every artist is as jolly and happy as I am —

PJ: (laughing, quietly in background)

MATT: — but they got the memo, like, act depressed … and people will respect you. But I’m – I’m fighting back, gosh darnit. Well hey guys, I’ll let you get to, uh, to the listeners — but this is cool. I like what you’re doing. If the baby wakes up at three in the morning, maybe I’ll call again.

ALEX: Yes! Sounds good.

PJ: Please do.

MATT: (slight laugh) Alright, peace.

ALEX: Take care.

PJ: Bye, Matt.

[Phone hangs up]

[phone rings]

PJ: Hold on a sec, don’t pick that up just yet.

CHLOE PRASINOS: What time is it?

ALEX: It’s 12:15.

PJ: OK, before you do the next one, I’m gonna go mobile.

[stands, chair creaks]

[phone rings]

PJ: Or you take it, I’ll jump on the next one.

DAMIANO: Where are you going?

[phone ringing]

PJ: Anywhere.

[phone ringing]

ALEX: Hello?

[barely audible voice on other end of line]

ALEX: Hi, who am I talking with? Yes.

[barely audible voice on other end of line]

[clicking sounds, door opening and closing]

ALEX: (yelling) That is a cool name for a ship!

PJ: 1, 2, 3.

[rustling, car door opening and closing, car ignition dinging, car starting]

PJ: (whispering) OK. (clears throat, coughs) OK it is 12:44.

[rustling]

PJ: I am —

[rustling]

[phone rings]

PJ: Hello?

Alex: Hello.

MAN: Whoa, it worked! Hello!

ALEX: Hi, this is Alex.

MAN: Can you hear me?

ALEX: Yes I can.

MAN: Hi Alex, how’s it going?

ALEX: Good, what can I do for ya?

MAN: What are you guys doing? You guys are crazy! You’re not going to get any sleep!

ALEX: Yeah, probably not, honestly.

MAN: (laughs) Are you excited? I think this a cool idea though.

ALEX: Um, I was excited until we started, and now it’s been, like —

MAN: Uh-huh.

ALEX: — not quite th- three hours and I’m really, really tired. It’s hard to talk to people for three hours straight, and I’ve got forty … -five hours to go!

MAN: Do you have Throat Coat tea with you?

ALEX: Uh, no.

MAN: That stuff has saved me before when I’m on set too long, man. It’s crazy. Oh my god, I will be keeping you guys in my thoughts for 48 hours, except when I’m asleep. How are you guys gonna be sleeping? Are you gonna, like, take shifts? You know what, I’m gonna tell you — and it’s gonna sound crazy — have you ever heard of, um … Nichiren Buddhism?

PJ: No.

MAN: In Nichiren Buddhism, we chant, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” repeatedly. Um, so, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, nam-myoho-renge-kyo, nam-myo,” so, every morning and evening … um, I chant. And I’m gonna add you guys to … to, um, my list, because you guys are gonna need this energy. I’m gonna be —

PJ: Thank you!

MAN: — I’m gonna be chanting to get you guys through this. OK.

ALEX: OK.

PJ: Alright, thanks man.

ALEX: Take care.

ROSS: Thanks guys, bye.

[phone hangs up]

PJ: Alex, you still there?

ALEX: Yes.

PJ: So we —

ALEX: Yeah, I’m s —

PJ: — can stay in this, like, chat room-y thing.

ALEX: Yes, we can.

PJ: Cool. Um, I’m — I got my car and I’m driving.

ALEX: Where are you going?

PJ: I don’t know – I – there’s something about being … in motion that feels good.

ALEX: Alright, I’m hanging up.

PJ: Uhhh … OK, cool. Alright, I’ll talk to you in … mere moments.

ALEX: Bye!

PJ: Bye.

[phone hang-up tone]

[phone rings]

WOMAN: Hello?

ALEX: Hello?

MAN: Hello. Is PJ around?

PJ: Yes, this is PJ, I’m in the car.

WOMAN: (laughs)

WOMAN AND ALEX AND PJ: Hello?

WOMAN: I think there’re more than one person on this call. (laughs)

MAN: Oh, really —

ALEX: Yeah, there’s —

PJ: Four people on this call!

MAN: PJ?

PJ: Yeah!

MAN: PJ, it’s Lola’s – Lola’s dad, just wishing you a happy anniversary and all that stuff —

PJ: Hey, (laughing) Bobby! How’s it going?

BOBBY: Everything’s great, man, you know, it’s uh … Somebody told me that I wouldn’t be able to get through, but I just pressed once and … it just opened up for me, so. I felt very lucky.

PJ: Alex, this is my girlfriend’s dad.

ALEX: Hi! Uh, this is Alex, nice to meet you.

BOBBY: Nice to meet you all.

PJ: Alex is my partner on the podcast, Bobby.

BOBBY: Yup. Ah, that’s great. It’s, uh, alright. Well, it’s, uh — I should get off and let more people enjoy, but. So is this truly without sleep, is that – was that the run? Or is, uh —

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: So far we’ve started at nine — or 10 o’clock this morning. We’ve been —

BOBBY: Right.

PJ: — going —

ALEX: It’s been f —

PJ: — since then. We’re going until 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. Without sleep.

BOBBY: Alright, well.

ALEX: 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, PJ.

BOBBY: Y- you’ve done —

PJ: Oh.

BOBBY: — harder things, physically.

PJ: 10 o’clock Wednesday morning.

BOBBY: Oh, Wednesday morning. Y- you’ve done harder things. Physically.

PJ: (uncertain) Yeah.

BOBBY: But emotionally, I’m not — but emotionally I’m not so sure. Let’s see how this (laughs) goes. You’ll be fine.

PJ: Do you have any advice for us?

BOBBY: (laughs) The advice?

PJ: Yeah.

BOBBY: The advice is just to, uh … you know, just presume that everybody loves you. Because at one point or another, they – they might. So. And then keep plugging.

PJ: That’s very good (laughing) advice.

BOBBY: (laughs)

ALEX: Yeah, that’s not terrible advice.

BOBBY: (laughing) No, it’s not terrible advice, thank you for that.

ALL: (laugh)

BOBBY: Alright, talk —

PJ: Take care.

BOBBY: — to you soon. Ciao.

PJ: Bye.

[phone hangs up]

WOMAN: Hi (laughs), I’m still h- (laughing) I’m still here. But now I feel like my question is weird if, suddenly, like, someone’s (laughing) relative is gonna show up.

ALEX: No, no other relatives are going to shut up — show up, and no questions are weird.

PJ: Relatives may show up, you definitely can’t promise that.

WOMAN: That’s true.

ALEX: Yeah, I guess that’s true.

PJ: But — any question is OK.

WOMAN: OK, I have a – OK, I have a question, and it’s a question that I have, for a long time, wanted to ask someone male that I don’t know (slight laugh).

PJ: OK!

WOMAN: So … um, here’s my question. My question is that … I have two little kids — I have two sons — that are three and six, and —

ALEX: Mhm.

WOMAN: — I’ve been thinking for a long time and now, more, for obvious reasons, about … like, what our conversation is gonna look like then when they’re older and we have to talk to them about, like, consent … with —

PJ: Oh, wow.

WOMAN: — partners? And … what I can’t figure out is that I feel like this conversation that my husband is probably gonna have with them for a variety of reasons … but my concern is that my husband’s conversation is going to be like, “I’m a guy, and what I know is that you should have consent.”

[high-pitched beep]

WOMAN: And not understand, like … what that’s like from a woman’s perspective. And I’m going back and forth between … do I … have a long talk with him about, like, all of my experiences with this, or lack of it in my life? Because then he knows stuff that I don’t really want to tell him. I think that if what I had to say about what had happened to me was like, “There was a dark alley and a stranger,” I would have said that 10 years ago. But that’s not —

PJ: Yeah.

WOMAN: — what I have to say. What I have to say is, like, a nice person that … is a nice a person, that everyone liked, that blah blah blah, like, did these things that … you know, in retrospect, were bad. And like, that’s actually the fear I have for my kids. I don’t think they’re going —

PJ: W —

WOMAN: — to be monsters. I just —

PJ: I think —

WOMAN: — don’t want them … to be the people I [indistinct] —

PJ: To go hurt somebody. I think that —

ALEX: W —

PJ: — you gotta … I think, like, it’s probably a thing where can’t … you’d add a level of difficulty … by trying to find a way to talk to them … without talking to him. And if — one —

WOMAN: Yeah.

PJ: — of the things that I’ve seen people do to me … that has helped me — and that I didn’t know before was an option in, like, talking with people you love — is to say like, “I’m gonna tell you about a thing. I need you to not do this or this. Like, it might upset you, I need you to not get angry. You might — like, I need you to not ask … these kinds of questions right now. I, like, literally, I need you to … I’m gonna tell you, you’re gonna listen, at the end of it you’re going to say ‘I love you’ and you’re gonna hug me. And we can talk about it again in two months or whatever,” but, like, I think sometimes it’s helpful to … actually be prescriptive with people when you’re giving them information that’s like … all of the sudden they —

WOMAN: [indistinct]

PJ: — might, like … fumble it.

WOMAN: Mhm.

PJ: Fumble the ball and … do you — I don’t know, maybe that sounds insane.

ALEX: W- like, what is your worst fear about w- his reaction? If you were to be frank about things that (inhales) that – th- the things that you’re worried that you can’t unsay and, like, put out there?

WOMAN: Maybe that he would be like, “Oh, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. I don’t know why you would be upset about that now.” Or, like, that it’s like, “That doesn’t seem that bad.” Like, “Why are — ” like … it’s not like he’s not unaware that there are ramifications of things, like, in our marriage to this day, and I think once I told him exactly what it was, I think I would be worried that he’d be like, “That doesn’t seem that bad, why are you acting crazy?” If we didn’t have two sons, I would … there’s a whole, like, there’s a whole bunch of stuff I would never talk to him about.

PJ: I just — I’ve dated people who’ve had … sexually traumatic experiences where they were really able to talk about it, and I’ve dated people who have, basically all they’ve been able to say is like, “There’s something in this area,” you know, and, like, “ and I want you to know that and I don’t want to talk about it past that.” And, like, I’ve never felt like, “Oh, you could tell me more!” Or, like, “I don’t —”

WOMAN: Right.

PJ: “— trust you,” or … And it – it’s helped — like, it’ll help … your husband to know, like … he’s probably like, “I don’t know why, like, it’s such a big deal,” like, it’ll give him, actually, context, which … is almost always better … understanding the people who … you love. You know, like where they come from and why things are important to them.

WOMAN: Yeah.

PJ: It’s hard, too, and it’s OK that it’s hard.

WOMAN: Thank you, guys. I feel like that was (laughs) probably heavier than you were expecting, but I actually feel a lot better. I feel like this has been, like, an ongoing discussion in my own head for, like, a year, and it’s nice to actually just … say it to someone who I won’t see.

ALEX: (laughs softly)

WOMAN: Hope the rest of your 48 hours goes well.

PJ: Thank you.

ALEX: [distantly] Thank you.

PJ: Good luck.

ALEX: Bye.

WOMAN: Bye.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Monday, 3 p.m., hour 5.

WOMAN: Um, we probably all sound very similar because we’re, um, we’re triplets.

PJ: Oh wow!

WOMAN: Yeah.

WOMAN 2: Yeah.

PJ: It must be strange to have somebody who looks just like you. It must be so strange to have two people who look just like you.

WOMAN: Oh, um … y- well, I — it’s not like I’ve ever been not a triplet, so —

WOMAN 2: Yeah.

WOMAN: — I don’t really know what that’s like.

PJ: Right. I could tell you about it. Um —

WOMAN 1-3: (laugh)

PJ: But I don’t know which parts would be —

WOMAN: What is it like to be a single?

PJ: Uh, I think, sometimes, it’s probably lonely.

WOMAN 1-3: Awww.

MAN: Hi there.

MAN 2: Who’s this?

MAN: This is Alex Goldman. This isn’t the actual Alex Goldman, this is another Alex Goldman. I don’t know what’s really going on here.

PJ: Wait, what? You’re not the Alex Goldman who plays paintball, are you? ‘Cause that Alex Goldman is more famous than Alex and always shows up first in his search results.

OTHER ALEX: Oh, really? No, that’s not me.

PJ: You’re not the Alex Goldman who’s a chef, are you? ‘Cause that Alex Goldman also, honestly, usually shows up before Alex in his search results.

OTHER ALEX: No, I haven’t done a lot of, uh, self-opti- -optimization. I’m Alex Goldman —

ALEX: You’re not —

PJ: (laughs)

OTHER ALEX: — the, as-of-yet, unsuccessful entrepreneur.

ALEX: You’re not the Alex Goldman who has been indicted for smuggling cigars, are you?

OTHER ALEX: No, I never got caught.

WOMAN: The cop that’s — that searching my tent, he yells out, “Whose tent is this?” And I say, “It’s mine.” And he says, “Can you come here for a second?” And, uh … so I get up, and I walk over, and I try to stay calm, and he opens the door and shines a flashlight in and he says, “Can you tell me what that is?” And I look in and it’s my vibrator th- (laughs) so I say, “That’s my vibrator!” He turns into Hank Hill, like, he gets so, like, flustered and embarrassed. He zips my — the door to my tent back shut and moves on to the next one.

PJ: That’s, like, a real win for sex-negativity.

WOMAN: (laughs) I know! (laughing)

PJ: (laughs)

WOMAN: My vibrator … possibly saved my life.

[harshing wind/blowing into mic/static sound]

PJ: Alex?

ALEX: Yeah, I’m still here.

PJ: I’m lying on the floor in my room. I think …I’m beginning my descent.

ALEX: What do you mean?

PJ: Uh … I’m just like, I’m like, there’s truly no way that I can do this for an additional … uh —

ALEX: 42 hours?

PJ: What? Ye- wait, 42?

ALEX: We’ve been doing it for six.

PJ: Oh, you said 32, I thought you said 42, I thought you said —

ALEX: 48 minus 6.

PJ: If you were, like, “Oh, you do — ”

ALEX: No, dude, it is 42.

PJ: Uh, yeah, y —

ALEX: We’ve been doing it for six hours.

PJ: Yeah, there’s truly no way that I can do that.

ALEX: (laughing) So what do you want to do?

PJ: Can … I don’t know. Wh- I mean, what do you think you can do?

ALEX: (blows raspberry) That’s a good question. I mean … we can go in shifts. We can … just go as long as we can and then, uh, give up. We can claim that there was some sort of cafa- catastrophic error and shut the whole (laughing) thing down. It’s kinda up to you, man.

PJ: Well, a wh- d- how do you feel?

ALEX: I’m exhausted. But I – I can keep going.

PJ: For how long?

ALEX: I don’t know. [pause] I mean, what do you want to do?

PJ: Die. Um —

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: I could definitely stop immediately, um —

ALEX: Um … I — look. I’m just glad you’re blaming yourself and not me.

PJ: Oh no, I know this is me – my fault. Oh god.

ALEX: We could go get a beer?

PJ: You want to go to Melody Lanes?

ALEX: Sure.

PJ: OK. I will talk to you soon.

[sounds of getting out of car, closing door, outdoor walking sounds, metal clicking noises, buzz of fluorescent lights, door clicking open, voices]

AUTOMATED VOICE: Monday, 6 p.m. Hour 8.

[phone pick up sound]

ALEX: Hello?

SEAN: Hello?

ALEX: Hi, who am I speaking with?

SEAN: This is Sean, who am I speaking with?

ALEX: This is Alex, how you doin’?

SEAN: Alex?! What?!

ALEX: Yeah.

SEAN: I’m doing well, how are you?

ALEX: Uh, I’m good. Uh, you sound really excited. I think PJ’s on the line too, but PJ’s decided he’s not going to talk for a little while. He needs to re —

SEAN: What?!

ALEX: He needs to re- he needs to recharge. Can you hold on for just a s- can you hold on for just a second?

SEAN: Yes.

ALEX: [to wife Sarah on other line] Hello? I’m just taking phone calls, how are you? Harvey, oh my god, I love him so much. Boy or girl? Oh my god! That’s amazing. Yeah. Does it make you want to have another kid? Uh, what are they, because I have to get back to this poor guy. Yes. Just a guy named Sean. Oh, he’s not, he can’t hear you. I’m just talking to you. No, he can’t hear what I’m saying either. He’s on hold. No, that’s the whole thing! No sleep! OK. Well, yeah – yes, it’s 48. No, I have — we’ve eaten, we’ve taken some breaks, but. Alright.

[kids talking in background]

ALEX: Alright. Good. OK, Alright, I love you very much. Bye. (to caller) Hey, are you still there? I’m really sorry about that, that was my wife. Uh, where were we …

[TV on in background]

BARTENDER: What’s up?

ALEX: Could I get a Bluepoint?

PJ: Could I get a whiskey and a Coke? Whiskey coke?

BARTENDER: Whiskey and Coke?

[phone picks up]

ALEX: Hello.

SARAH: This is Sarah, who’s this?

ALEX: This is Alex.

PJ: And PJ.

SARAH: Oh hi, this is so cool!

ALEX: Uh, so where are you calling from, Sarah?

SARAH: I’m calling from Seattle. Uh, PJ, I saw your tweet about just being exhausted, so I thought I would just call and then put you guys on mute for like five minutes and let you just be in quiet.

PJ: Oh my god, yes!

SARAH: For some time.

PJ: Yes, please!

SARAH: (laughs)

PJ: Please! Please, yes!

SARAH: OK, I’m just — I’m gonna mute it and, um, I’m at work, so I’m just gonna leave it, and then — can you hang up on me, or do I have to hang up on you?

PJ: Just check back in in five minutes.

SARAH: OK, alright, I’m gonna mute you for a bit and I’ll be back in five.

PJ: Thank you.

ALEX: Sarah, you are very nice.

PJ: Thank you so much. Oh, that is the nicest thing.

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: That is the nicest thing. That is the nicest thing. Oh my god.

[background bar noise]

[sigh]

[baseball game on in background]

PJ: Oh, give me that, um, external battery.

[batteries dropped on table]

SARAH: Hey —

PJ: (laughing)


SARAH: — hello again, it’s been like five minutes.

ALEX: Hey, uh —

SARAH: Hi.

ALEX: — Sarah’s back.

SARAH: I’m back, hi.

PJ: You have been the nicest person —

ALEX: You have done the most incredible —

PJ: — to us all day.

ALEX: — thing that anybody has ever done for us.

PJ: It’s like – it’s like – it’s like — it’s like on Christmas Santa coming down the chimney and someone being like, “I got you a gift.”

ALL: (laugh)

ALEX: Um.

SARAH: Um, I wanna — I was on hold for a while, so I want to give other people a shot, but good luck with the rest of the day and night, you guys. And thanks for —

PJ: Thank you.

ALEX: Thanks a lot Sarah.

PJ: Thank you so much.

SARAH: Take care! Bye!

ALEX: Bye.

PJ: Bye.

[television sounds in background]

PJ: (singing sadly) Never stop calling. Alright, let’s get out of here.

[phone ringing]

[trippy music sounds, outdoor sounds]

CAB DRIVER: PJ?

 

ALEX: PJ! This is your cab.

CAB DRIVER: PJ?

PJ: Yeah. Thank you.

[car door shutting]

[unlocking deadbolt]

AUTOMATED VOICE: Monday, 10 p.m. Hour 12.

[phone picks up]

PJ: Hello?

WOMAN 1: Hi.

WOMAN 2: Hi!

WOMAN 1: Is Alex and PJ?

PJ: I think it’s just PJ right now.

WOMAN 1: Oh, cool — hi, how are you?

PJ: Good! Who’s this?

ALLI: Uh, this is Alli.

DYLAN: And my name’s Dylan.

PJ: Alli and Dylan?

ALLI: Yeah.

ALEX: And Alex.

PJ: Hey, Alex.

ALLI: And Alex?

DYLAN: Hey Alex.

ALEX: How’s it going?

ALLI: Uh … how’s your guys’ day going?

ALEX: Uh …

PJ: It’s going OK — wait. I have a question. For you, Alex.

ALLI: Yes.

ALEX: Yes?

ALLI: Yeah?

PJ: Where — are you at home in New Jersey now?

ALEX: Yeah, I’m home.

PJ: OK. I just — I got home and … my very, very patient, very kind, very patient, and also kind, girlfriend — who it’s my anniversary with — is here. And so, I’m gonna spend a little bit of time with her. Um —

ALEX: OK.

PJ: — ‘cause I want to try to make it to two years. Um.

ALLI AND DYLAN: (laugh)

ALEX: Why don’t you put your phone on silent, I’m gonna tee- keep taking calls for a little bit.

PJ: OK. You’re a hero. You’re a king among men. OK. I’ll talk to you … later, slash maybe in the morning.

ALEX: Alright, take it easy bud.

PJ: Take it easy, bye.

ALLI: Bye.

DYLAN: Bye!

ALEX: Hi, uh, hi Alli and Dylan, how’s it going? (exhale-laughs)

ALLI: Uh, good. Just chillin’.

ALEX: So what do you want to know?

ALLI: Um … I actually kind of want to know what your — what your first job that you liked was.

DYLAN: Yeah.

ALEX: Well, I’ve had like 30 jobs (laughs), so it depends on what you mean. Like, first — do you mean first career-style job, or first job-job?

ALLI: Just which, like, what was the first one that you liked, and why did you like it?

ALEX: The first job that I liked was Subway, because I got free sandwiches.

ALLI AND DYLAN: (laugh)

ALEX: Uh, I worked midnights at a gas station, that was awesome, ‘cause I ate all kinds of beef jerky. Um.

ALLI: (laughs)

ALEX: I had a job as a flower delivery guy, which was pretty fun. I worked at an Indian buffet, I was kinda into that.

[mic handling, walking down stairs]

ALEX: Uh, I worked at a video store, I liked that. I worked …

[door shuts]

[backpack unzips]

[thumping mic lightly]

[kissing sound]

PJ: Do you love me?

[slot sound]

LOLA: [indistinct] I preheated the oven. (laughs)

PJ: No need! [opens pizza box] It should be margarita.

[tin-foil rustling sound]

LOLA: What?

PJ: Eh.

LOLA: Definitely is —

PJ: OK, cool.

LOLA: Just gotta put it on a plate.

[scraping sound, walking]

PJ: I’m just — I just gotta, basically like … sign back out with Alex, then I’m done.

[fin foil sounds]

LOLA: It’s fine. This is your job, I love you, it’s nice to just be able to be around you.

PJ: I love you.

[kissing, tinfoil]

[cell phone rings]

PJ: Balls.

ALEX: This is Alex.

PJ: This is PJ.

ALEX: Hey, is it just you and me?

PJ: I don’t know. Is it just you and me?

ALEX: (laughs) It sure seems that way.

PJ: Yeah, I’m home, I’m going to go to sleep, is that an OK thing to do to you?

ALEX: Yeah, it’s cool. Uh —

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: — tell Lola I say goodnight, and go —

PJ: I will.

ALEX: — to bed. And I will talk to you later.

PJ: Do you feel like you learned anything today?

ALEX: Yeah, I learned that you’re a real baby.

PJ: Yeah, that’s true. [pause] Alright.

ALEX: Bye.

PJ: Bye.

ALEX: Hey Sar?

SARAH: [quietly in background] Yeah?

ALEX: We don’t happen to have double A batteries anywhere, do we? [pause] I checked in the thing over there.

SARAH: [quietly in background] How are you?

ALEX: Uh, (laughing) I’m exhausted.

SARAH: [quietly in background] Jesus.

ALEX: (laughs)

SARAH: [quietly in background] Is your voice OK?

ALEX: Yeah, my voice is fine.

SARAH: [quietly in background] You drinking water?

ALEX: Uh-huh.

SARAH: [quietly in background] Do you need more?

ALEX: No, I’m fine, how are you?

SARAH: [quietly in background] I’m good.

ALEX: You seem concerned.

SARAH: [quietly in background] Yeah, obviously.

MALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Welcome to the conference, you are being recorded.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

ALEX: S —

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman —

ALEX: Streptobeeb?

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman.

ALEX: (laughs)

MAN: Streptobeeb?

ALEX: Streptobeeb!

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman. Streptobeeb.

MAN: What is happening?

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman. Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman. (repeats at constant pace).

MAN: Strept-o-beeb? What’s streptobeeb?

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

WOMAN: (laughs)

MAN: I don’t know.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman. Streptobeeb.

MAN: (breath-laughs) It just keeps going.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman.

MAN: It’s a social experiment.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

WOMAN: (laughs) Like, how [indistinct].

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

MAN: Yeah.

WOMAN: [indistinct]

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman.

ALEX: Streptobeeb.

WOMAN: We have an important question!

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

MAN: (exhale-laughs)

WOMAN: What is [indistinct].

ALEX: You’re gonna —

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

MAN: (giggles)

ALEX: (yelling) You’re gonna have to yell it over this —

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

ALEX: — because this is out of my control.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb. Alex Goldman.

MAN: (yelling) OK Alex, we have an important question.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

ALEX:: (also yelling) Go for it.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

MAN: What should we name our child?

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

ALEX: Uhm.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

WOMAN: It’s a girl.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

MAN: It’s a girl.

ALEX: Uh…

WOMAN: [indistinct]

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

MAN: She’s due in December.

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

ALEX: Congratulations, first of all. Second of all —

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Alex Goldman.

ALEX: (laughs)

MAN: Thank you!

FEMALE AUTOMATED VOICE: Streptobeeb.

ALEX: (laughing) Sorry about streptobeeb!

[call hangup sound, voice stops]

WOMAN: (laughs)

MAN: (laughing) It’s OK!

ALEX: It went away! Ask me the question again.

MAN: OK. We are having a girl, our first child, in December, and we don’t know what to name her.

ALEX: Uhh, OK. Do you have any ideas?

MAN: Yes. We have two ideas. So the first one is Zuzu. Z-U-Z-U.

ALEX: OK.

WOMAN: [indistinct]

MAN: And that’s from the movie, uh, It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a little girl. [indistinct] —

ALEX: Yeah yeah yeah, Zuzu’s petals! I know.

MAN: Yeah.

ALEX: C’mon, man!

MAN: Yeah, Zuzu’s petals. Yeah. My wife loves that film. And then, the second one is my grandmother’s name, and it was Nila.

ALEX: Ahhhhh. I like Nila. But, I gotta be honest with you, I really don’t want this responsibility, so you guys have make this decision on your own.

WOMAN: (laughs)

MAN: Well, I hope your life’s not too crazy in the next day and a half.

ALEX: Ah, It’ll be fine. Everybody’s been so nice to us.

MAN: Has it been pretty cool, have you gotten some good stuff?

ALEX: Yeah, the weirdest phone call we’ve gotten so far was streptobeeb.

MAN: Yeah, it was — can you hear me?

ALEX: So I tweeted yesterday about how I was cleaning up after a party once and found, um, a, uh, piece of paper that had a word written on it, and the word was “streptobeeb,” and so somebody decided to make a little robot say “streptobeeb at me.” I don’t know why.

MAN: So did we just — so was that two calls coming into the one call just now?

ALEX: That was two calls simultaneously. We don’t have, uh, a lot of control over … um — the system is imperfect, let’s just say that. Uh, congratulations on your kid, by the way.

WOMAN: Thank you.

MAN: Thanks. We’ll name her Nyla.

WOMAN: (laughs)

AUTOMATED VOICE: Tuesday, 1 a.m. Hour 15.

[rustling noises]

ALEX: I feel like I’m going to be up late, so I’m just trying to get my amplifier turned on —

[guitar plucking]

ALEX: — but I haven’t turned my amp on in … many, many months.

WOMAN: Are you guy taking shifts?

ALEX: Uh, well, we were going to do them all together, but then PJ —

WOMAN: Fell asleep?

ALEX: PJ — no, um … PJ sort of neglected his one year anniversary with his girlfriend.

[Amp switches on]

ALEX: Oh!

[guitar janks]

ALEX: There we go. Hold on just a second.

[presses fingers on strings off and on]

ALEX: You hear my guitar? There we go. Um … (smacks lips)

[Strums guitar]

ALEX: Nice! Right now —

[Strums guitar]

ALEX: — right now it’s just me, flying solo. Um, and … and my very patient wife is upstairs and —

[strums, starts blues riff]

WOMAN: So you guys are in New York, you’re in the city, right?

[Plays twangy blues riff]

ALEX: Well, PJ lives in Brooklyn, I actually live in New Jersey.

[twangy blues solo, strum, backwards scale]

ALEX: (groggily b-boy rapping) My name is Alex and I’m here to say, I’m really, really tired, hello!

WOMAN: Hi, Alex! This is crazy.

[phone pickup tone, voices begin overlapping each other]

MAN’S VOICE: Hello?

MAN’S VOICE: Hey, how are ya? I thought I’d call you guys up and have a chat.

[phone pickup tone]

ALEX: Hello?

WOMAN’S VOICE: If you can hear me, I can’t hear you.

[phone pickup tone begins repeating, becomes musical]

MAN’S VOICE: Hello?

MAN’S VOICE: Hey Alex, how’s it going.

ALEX: I’m alright, how are you?

MAN’S VOICE: Hello?

ALEX: (distant and quiet, reverb) Hello?

WOMAN: Oh, I just saw a shooting star! Ohhhh!

ALEX: Hello?

[loop of phone pickup tone turns into glitchy, looping song that plays under phone calls]

ALEX: Hello?

ALEX: Are you just laying out in, like, the desert?

WOMAN: Straight up, yes.

ALEX: (distant and quiet, reverb) Hello?

MAN: Are you exhausted? How’s it going?

ALEX: I’m a sleepy boy.

ALEX: (distant and quiet, reverb) Hello?

ALEX: I feel like I’ve created my own Twilight Zone episode. It’s just like every time I hang up, a new ph- a new call comes immediately.

MAN: Hello?

ALEX: Hi, this is Alex, I’m still awake, and I feel bad, and I’m talking to you and I feel really bad.

ALEX: (distant and quiet, reverb) Hello?

[indistinct voices fade in and out of background]

MAN: [voice starts quiet and grows louder] Hey, this is Sam.

MAN 2: This is Sam?

ALEX: Hi Sam, we’re getting our wires crossed, so like a couple people are ended up on the calls. Who am I – I talking to?

SAM NEARY: This is Sam Neary. I’m from, uh, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ALEX: And who — who else am I talking to?

BRENT: Uh, Brent from Phoenix.

ALEX: Uh, so what’s going on guys? How are you?

SAM: Well Alex, I’m pumped to talk to you guys. I’m on my way to the airport.

ALEX: What’s going on with you, Brent? What’s – what’s, uh, what’s new, man? How’s it going?

BRENT: I was sitting in my bed, uh, waiting for you to pick up and I just hit my head on the fan, so.

ALEX: Ohh!

BRENT: I’m fine.

ALEX: Uh, guys, uh … I – I actually think that I’m gonna pass out. I’m so tired.

SAM: (laughs)

ALEX: Uh, I know that we’re supposed to be taking calls. (inhales) Uh, where are you guys located again?

BRENT: Uh, I’m in Phoenix, Arizona.

SAM: Uh, Indianapolis.

ALEX: And are you guys both on the road … right now?

SAM: Ah, yeah.

BRENT: No.

ALEX: Where ar- where are you, Brent? Are you at home?

BRENT: Oh, yeah! I’m in my bedroom, my girlfriend’s downstairs wondering who the hell I’m talking at this time.

ALEX: Why, ‘cause it’s one in the morning there?

BRENT: Yeah, pretty much, yeah.

ALEX: So let me ask you a question — do you have unlimited minutes on your cellphone plan?

BRENT: Yes, I do. Unlimited minutes, unlimited data.

ALEX: Alright, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor. Um … I am so fucking exhausted, I can’t continue. But!

BRENT: (laughs)

ALEX: But! If all of us hang up, someone’s just gonna call back and my phone will ring again. So here’s what I want you —

SAM: (laughing) Yeah!

ALEX: — here’s what I want you to do for me, Brent.

BRENT: Alright.

ALEX: Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to … either put on a radio, or like put on … put on something. That people can hear. And put your phone next to it. So when people call in and, like, they join this conference, they’ll just quietly hear something in the distance. Something spooky, or like … like talk radio or music or something. And, um, when it come- when it comes —

BRENT: I’ll —

ALEX: — when it comes time in the morning for us to come back, we’ll just, uh, end the call and then, uh, people can call again.

BRENT: I’ll — I’ll load up Infowars on, uh, YouTube, and just put that on on loop.

[unplugged electric guitar twanging]

ALEX: Oh my god. Yeah! Yeah!

BRENT: Wonderful InfoWars.

ALEX: If you could find like six hours of Infowars. I mean —

BRENT: [indistinct sound]

ALEX: — it’s not gonna be that long, but that would be so fucking amazing. Can you do that, Brent?

BRENT: Uh, I would have to get my – my iPad, and I could somehow do it, probably.

ALEX: Uh, I think you should. I think you should try.

BRENT: (slight laugh)

ALEX: If you do it for me —

SAM: Do it, Brent!

ALEX: If you do it for me, Brent, I will sent you a Reply All t-shirt.

BRENT: (laughs)

SAM: Do it! You can do it!

ALEX: (laughs)

SAM: He’ll send you the t-shirt.

BRENT: I have to go downstairs and – and talk to my already-frightened girlfriend.

ALEX: Alright, well, OK. So if you’re telling me you can’t do it, the obvious question is, Sam what can you do for me here? Do you have unlimited data? Or unlimited, uh —

SAM: I —

ALEX: — minutes?

SAM: I could do it, but I can’t last longer than … uh, five o’clock. Because that’s when my flight is.

ALEX: Right.

SAM: So it would be an hour.

ALEX: So it’s either Brent does it, or I have to take another call.

SAM: Yup.

BRENT: (laughs) Don’t put this on me, I didn’t make this idea up.

ALEX: I knew you didn’t.

SAM: But you called at on- one in the morning Phoenix time!

BRENT: I know.

SAM: You gotta be ready for anything!

BRENT: I – I’m part of the problem.

ALEX: Sam, don’t peer pressure him. If he can’t do it, he can’t do it. I don’t want to freak out his girlfriend.

BRENT: I —

ALEX: Alright, well … it was a solid effort. Guys, I’m gonna go. I’m gonna take another call, but I appreciate —

BRENT: Sorry, good luck man.

ALEX: — you guys calling in.

SAM: Alright. Bye.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Tuesday, 4 a.m. Hour 17.

[phone picks up]

ALEX: Hi, this is Alex. Who am I talking to?

EVAN: Hi, this is Evan.

ALEX: Hey Evan, what’s popping?

EVAN: I have … I have an internet question for you.

ALEX: (inhales) Uhh, I’ll do my — I’ll do my level best.

EVAN: If you YouTube “Spiderman Elsa Pregnant,” that usually gets you where you want to go.

ALEX: Yeah, uh, I’m a little confused by this too.

EVAN: Uh-huh.

ALEX: “PREGNANT RAPUNZEL vs PAW PATROL vs BAD BABY JOKER!” “Pregnant FROZEN ELSA vs BAD BABY! w/ Spiderman.” “PREGNANT FROZEN ELSA vs SPIDERMAN – SPIDERBABY.” “Pregnant PINK SPIDERGIRL vs BAD BABY!” Why is this on the paranormal board? [long pause] So I’m going to look into this but I have no idea what the fuck’s going on with these.

MAN: OK. Well, that’s OK. Uh —

ALEX: I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.

MAN: I’m glad I got through to you.

ALEX: Yeah.

MAN: That’s OK.

ALEX: Hey, have a good night man.

MAN: Yeah, you too, good luck.

ALEX: Thanks, bye.

MAN: Alright. Bye now.

[phone hang-up tone, call ended beeping, rustling]

[call pick-up noise]

MAN: Hello? Hello? (clears throat) Hello, can anyone hear me? Hello.

[long pause]

ALEX: Check check check.

[rustling, zipper sound]

ALEX: Check check check check check check check.

[sound of television in background, utensils on plate]

ALEX: OK, here we go. Alright, so, it’s what? 10 after 8 … I’m leaving the house. Hi! Hi buddy.

[kiss noise]

HARVEY: (baby talking)

ALEX: Have a good day.

HARVEY (urgently baby talking)

SARAH: [Indistinct] your boo boo.

ALEX: Say bye bye.

[mic handling sound

ALEX: Bye, Harv.

HARVEY: (baby talking)

ALEX: Is that your choo choo?

HARVEY: (cries)

ALEX: Alright, well.

PJ: 1-2-3-4. OK. It’s 8:24 in the morning … (groans)

[phone pick-up tone]

ALEX: Hello, this is Alex Goldman, from the Reply All podcast, can you hear me, hello?

PJ: Alex Goldman, as I live and breathe.

ALEX: Yeah, that’s me, that’s me, just came out of the subway, walking to work, feeling, uh, OK.

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: Who are we speaking to, who is this?

KEVIN: Oh hey, it’s, uh, Kevin, calling from a —

ALEX: Kevin —

KEVIN: — calling from a cafe in Budapest.

ALEX: What’s going on man? What’s poppin’?

PJ: Wait, calling from a cafe in Budapest?

KEVIN: Yeah, I got a whole bunch of remote contracts, so I’m just kind of kicking around the world and, uh, yeah, just working wherever.

ALEX: PJ, I’m like a block away, where are you man?

PJ: I’m actually in the studio now, I got two mics open so if you want to hop in the studio, hop in the studio. Apparently somebody sent Dunkin’ Donuts, so would you bring it down before you come in the studio?

ALEX: Wait, someone like a listener?

PJ: Uh, yeah.

ALEX: Dude, that is very nice, but we don’t deserve it.

PJ: What are you talking about? We — listen, it’s not like my self-esteem is that good, but we deserve Dunkin’ Donuts.

ALEX: No. No.

KEVIN: (chuckles)

ALEX: We caused this.

PJ: What is wrong with you? (laughs)

ALEX: It’s like if I deliberately crashed my car and someone showed up and was like, “Aw, geez, I’m really sorry, let me take you out to dinner.”

PJ: No, it’s like if you deliberately crashed your car and somebody was like, “You made a weird, painful choice. Here’s a doughnut.”

ALEX: (laughs) Alright, Kevin, I know that you’re biased, you called because you know the show, but do we deserve these donuts? I need to know. If not, I’m gonna go upstairs and throw them all in the garbage.

PJ: (laughs)

KEVIN: You deserve all of those donuts.

PJ: (laughs) There you have it.

ALEX: Alright, well, can’t argue with that.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Tuesday, 10 a.m. Hour 24.

[paper bag rustling noises, swallowing noise]

MAN: Sorry, what was that?

ALEX: Nothing, that was just —

PJ: The sound of Alex eating a doughnut, possibly?

ALEX: Maybe.

WOMAN: Hello?

PJ: Hello?

ALEX: This is Alex.

PJ: And also PJ.

EMMA: Hi, it’s Emma.

PJ: Hi Emma.

ALEX: What’s up?

EMMA: Not much, how are you guys doing?

ALEX: A little confused.

PJ: Eating Donuts.

ALEX: When I was first using the internet, there were like weekly meetings of the local bulletin board I hung out on. It was like everybody from like age 14 to age 45 was there, because — um, mostly because my dad was like, “I don’t know enough about the internet to be worried that it’s dangerous,” so I would like go to the bowling alley with a bunch of weirdos that I met off my bulletin board every week.

EMMA: (clears throat) Well my ex’s Warcraft guild used to have in-person meetups.

PJ: What were those like?

EMMA: I never went, but the amazing thing is that’s where he met his secret Warcraft girlfriend, which is why we broke up.

PJ: (gasps)

ALEX: What a dick!

PJ: Wait, secret Warcraft girlfriend — can you just answer some of the follow-up questions you know I’m going to ask?

EMMA: Yes, I’ll give you the short version.

PJ: You don’t have to — I don’t know if you know this, but we’re doing a 48 hour call-in show.

EMMA: So, we were like — this was most of my 20s, I was living with him for like 6 or 7 years. And then a couple of years into that, Warcraft came out. And we both got —

PJ: And this is – this is World of Warcraft?

EMMA: World of Warcraft, yeah.

PJ: Yeah.

EMMA: We both got super into it, but we were in different guilds … which was a whole thing. Um, and so … But he took it much more seriously than I did, because he worked from home and he just had more hours to devote to it. Um …

And so eventually his guild had like a meetup in Dallas, and a – a couple months later he started acting like a little bit shady. He was in sort of a mood all the time, and then he told me that his aunt in Poughkeepsie was dying of cancer. And I was like —

PJ: Oh no.

EMMA: Well that’s – that’s terrible. And, um, his father had died of cancer when he was a teenager, so it sort of messed him up, and I was like, “That’s awful, whatever you need, I’m here for you.” And he was like, “Well, I think, I think I’m going to start spending some time with my aunt in Poughkeepsie,” and I was like, “Yes, of course! Whatever you need!”

PJ: (sighs)

EMMA: So every other weekend he would go to “Poughkeepsie,” um, to see his “aunt dying of cancer,” and this went on for like 6 or 8 months. And only after we had broken up did I find out (laughing) that that whole time, he was going to Baltimore to see his secret Warcraft girlfriend.

PJ: Oh my god.

EMMA: Who was like a mage from his guild.

ALEX: What an elaborate con.

PJ: Also you can never trust a mage.

EMMA: I know! (laughs) But I’m a mage.

PJ: (laughs)

EMMA: I was a mage.

PJ: Well there you go.

EMMA: (laughs) That sucks so much. How did you find out — was his aunt sick, or was that completely fabricated?

EMMA: He didn’t even have an aunt!

PJ: (gasps)

EMMA: Oh my gosh. So like — first of all, he didn’t tell his mother that we broke up, even though we lived together. So like a month after we broke up his mom called the apartment looking for him. And I was like, “Oh, um, we actually broke up, I’m sorry he didn’t — I’m surprised he didn’t tell you. And I was really sorry, by the way, to hear about your sister.” And she was like, “I don’t have a sister.” And I was like, “Oh, maybe I misunderstood, maybe it was Chris’s father’s sister.” And she’s like, “No.” (laughs)

PJ: That is insane.

ALEX: What a shitbox.

EMMA: I know. I was like at work when I found out, so I ran downstairs and called him on my phone and I yelled at him for like a solid hour. And he was just like, “Yeah, you’re right.” (laughs)

PJ: I knew before you said it, I knew it was going to be that tone of voice, that’s like, “Yeahhh.”

ALEX & EMMA: “Yeahhh.”

ALEX: “Yeah, I’m a bad – I’m a really bad guy. I know. You got — listen, I’m broken, you’re better off without me.” Did he say that?

PJ: (groans)

ALEX: Did he say that?

EMMA: That’s almost exactly what he said. And as we were hanging up he was like, “I’m sorry for ruining your life.” And I was like —

PJ: Oh you fucking wish.

EMMA: Dude, don’t flatter yourself.

ALEX: Don’t give yourself so much credit, asshole.

EMMA: I know! I know.

PJ: It also just sucks when you’re like – you’re like, that that was like the tiniest window — like the fact that you managed to have an affair through fucking World of Warcraft.

EMMA: I know. (laughs)

PJ: Did it end? What happened with him and his other mage?

EMMA: I don’t know! Um, he still lives in Baltimore, where he moved to be with her. Um, and we don’t really talk, so I don’t know. (laughs) Yeah…

PJ: Did you — did it make you never want to play the game again?

EMMA: Um, I don’t play a ton of video games right now, actually. Warcraft sort of broke that urge in me, I think. But an interesting footnote to the ex stuff is that he definitely continued to play, and he felt such, like, crippling guilt about this whole secret girlfriend situation, that for a while he would walk up to me in a city, like in the game, in Warcraft, and just give me like 1000 gold and like walk away.

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: Oh my god. What a dork-ass.

PJ: And you were like OK, now we’re cool.

EMMA: I know, he would just like give me money and items and not even talk to me. (laughing)

ALEX: Ugh. Ugh.

EMMA: And I’m like, OK, I’ll take it. [pause] Alright, well —

ALEX: Thanks for calling.

EMMA: I hope you guys get through the next 24 hours and survive.

PJ: 23 hours!

EMMA: 23 hours!

PJ: 11 o’clock, we’re on our way.

ALEX: Toot toot!

AUTOMATED VOICE: Welcome to the conference.

PJ: Reply All call-in show, broadcasting from a couch in the office. Alex is also somewhere else in this office. Hello?

MAN: What up, can you guys hear me?

ALEX: Yes, we can I hear you.

PJ: I can hear you.

MAN: Awesome guys, how you feeling? 24 hours, 26 hours in! That’s crazy!

PJ: Where are you calling from, sir?

MAN: Um, I’m calling — OK, this is weird, I’m in a closet in the New York Times building ‘cause it’s the only safe place to call.

PJ: (laughs)

WOMAN: I’ve been online since the ‘90s.

ALEX: Really?

WOMAN: Oh yeah.

ALEX: You were hardcore.

WOMAN: I was hardcore! I was command slash command and everything.

PJ: Well it’s just, you must be around a lot of people who are like totally secular who are like, “Yeah, I’ve slept with tons of people that I’m not married to.”

MAN: Yeah, no, definitely exposed to that all the time. You know, I do think that sex is – was designed by God and intended to be in the confines of marriage.

MAN: Do I have airport what, sorry?

PJ: Airport secrets. Like do you know things about the airport that other people don’t, know, like oh —?

MAN: Stuff that I know is really useless, like if you come away and you’ve got a really important meeting and you forget your cufflinks from your shirt, there is a guy on the desk called Manuel who will be able to produce some from the depths of nowhere and save your life.

PJ: That’s a good airport secret!

MAN: That’s a good one, that is a good one.

MAN: I’ve had this thought before, of, you know, um, you know when you’re in like a fight with a friend, or a significant other, and you text them something? And all you want is a response, and you want them to respond like, “I hate you, go away,” or “I’m not meeting up with you,” or “You hurt me,” or something, but all you get is just nothing?

PJ: Yeah.

MAN: And you’re left to just wonder and worry, are they mad at me, are they forgiving me, are they figuring it out, maybe they’re busy, and you’re then you’re just left in this limbo. So I think of that as Hell, but with God, and then mixed with like being in a desert. And all you’re left with is just … your own thoughts, always, you know.

[phone pick-up tone]

ALEX: Hello, this is Alex Goldman of the Reply All podcast.

MAN: Hey, this is Andrew Pseudonym of the, uh, living room couch. How’s it going, Alex?

ALEX: Good. Um, what can I do for you Andrew Pseudonym?

ANDREW: What can you do for me? Um … why don’t you get my stepdaughter into Yale, Alex. No, I don’t have an agenda. I’m a fan of calling into, you know, radio shows, and when I found out that one of the great podcasts had converted into a radio show that I could call into, late-night early-afternoon style, I lept at the chance. I seized its throat, I grabbed its espresso machine and made myself a ristretto pour.

ALEX: I don’t know what that means.

ANDREW: Do I need an agenda? You don’t know which part of that.

ALEX: I don’t know what a ristretto pour is.

ANDREW: It’s just a kind of espresso that I heard about one time.

ALEX: But … but then you tried it?

ANDREW: Sure I tried it. It was offered to me in a cafe and I tried it. But the point isn’t — you know, it was just a metaphor.

ANDREW: My mom sent me some boxes that I hadn’t seen since probably … ‘98. And in one of the boxes was lube. Not that kind of lube, Alex, it was a, uh, trumpet lube. Valve lube, so that the keys to your trumpet move more smoothly. And as I was – as I was dialing you, this bottle that I had just pulled out — you know, plastic from the ‘90s — burst, and my entire bookshelf was just covered in …. old jazz lube. And I think it got into my phone and it destroyed the headphone jack, so now I can’t even go hands-free. And I tried to clean it up, and … I’m visually impaired, so I’m used to dropping things and having them disappear. You know, most people drop a quarter and then you see it, but for me I have just a, uh — basically like a toilet paper tube’s worth of central vision remaining, and so I drop a quarter and it might as well have fallen into a wormhole into another universe.

SRUTHI: (in background)

ANDREW: And — so I’m used to spilling things and then waiting a long time to find them.

ALEX: Hold on.

ANDREW: Are you telling me to hold on?

ALEX: No, I’m talking to Sruthi Pinnamaneni.

ANDREW: Well, tell Sruthi to hang on a second because I’m talking about this – this wormhole spill. Anyway, so I spilled it, and I’m used to, as I say, Alex, something being spilled and just never seeing it until later —

[Sruthi talking in background, sounds of people walking around]

ANDREW — you know, my wife or my stepdaughter saying, “There’s a bunch of Greek yogurt on the floor.” So anyway … the jazz lube just went everywhere, but it’s not that I couldn’t see it, it’s just that the lube, being so surfaceless, covered everything and sort of just became absorbed — my life, my life kind of soaked it up like a sponge, and now it’s kind of covering everything. It’s covered the whole afternoon.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Welcome to the conference. Tuesday, 3pm. Hour 29. You are being recorded.

[phone pick-up sound]

PJ: Welcome to the wonder of the wonders.

ALEX: Welcome to the conference, this is Alex Goldman.

PJ: Welcome to the Reply All

ALEX: And PJ Vogt —

PJ: And PJ Vogt.

ALEX: We are walking down the street, PJ is rambling. What can we do for you?

WOMAN: I’m just sitting here practicing my French horn, do you want to hear?

PJ: Yeah!

ALEX: Yes!

WOMAN: Alright! Hold on, let me see if I can just put you on speaker. [pause] OK, what do you guys want to hear?

PJ: What can you play?

ALEX: Yeah, what do you got?

[starts playing]

WOMAN: How’s it sound?

PJ: Keep going!

ALEX: Yeah, I wanna — rock an entire song for us.

WOMAN: OK, OK. [rustling] I just finished recording for the next Pirates movie coming up.

PJ: Pirates of the Caribbean?

WOMAN: Yeah, I’m in LA, I’m a horn player in LA.

PJ & ALEX: That’s awesome.

WOMAN: Yeah.

[Plays the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song]

PJ: Oh hell yeah.

ALEX: (laughs)

WOMAN: Yeah?

ALEX: Yeah!

PJ: Can you do more of that?

WOMAN: More? OK, I’ll keep going.

PJ: (aughs)

[Starts playing]

[Alex sings notes of song]

[Keeps playing Pirates theme song]

PJ: That was so nice.

ALEX: That was so good.

PJ: Thank you so much.

ALEX: I can totally imagine the soaring strings over top of that.

WOMAN: OK, what other thing can we do to entertain you?

PJ: Literally, I would just —

WOMAN: Organ?

PJ: Oh yes, organ, please!

WOMAN: OK, here we go.

[Starts playing organ]

WOMAN: (laughs) This is so fun. Don’t hang up on me!

[organ picks up]

WOMAN: Can you hear this jam?

PJ: Yeah!

WOMAN: Oh yeah!

[Calypso-y]

WOMAN: Marimba, we have a marimba here too.

PJ: Yeah, play a marimba!

[Plays marimba riff]

WOMAN: That’s my new song for you guys.

[Marimba notes]

WOMAN: (singing) Reply All. [plays more notes] Reply All. Reply All. [plays more notes] Reply All.

PJ: (laughs)

[car blinker ticket]

ALEX: Alright, you ready for another call?

PJ: (singing) More calls, gettin’ more calls, we’re always gonna get some more calls. More calls, I want more calls.

ALEX: (singing) We’re always gonna get some more calls.

PJ: Yes, hello, it’s the Reply All telethon.

[phone pick-up tone]

ALEX: This Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt. We are in a car. What can we do for you?

WOMAN:: Oh, I just wanted to say hi, and I hope you guys get some sleep at some point, and I hope someone brings you some food.

ALEX: We’re actually driving right now to Bay Ridge, which is in, uh —

PJ: Brooklyn.

ALEX: — southern Brooklyn, to get food from a, um, deli that was recommended to us by another caller.

WOMAN: That’s crazy.

ALEX: And we just arrived at it, and now we are trying to find a parking space.

PJ: So we’ve manifested your wish very quickly.

WOMAN: Wow, I’m magical, that’s fantastic!

[car door opening, ignition beeping, car door closing]

[sandwich biting noise]

PJ: What is it?

ALEX: OK. This sandwich is roasted eggplant, prosciutto, and parmesan — uh, not parmesan, excuse me.

PJ: Mozzarella?

ALEX: Mozzarella.

PJ: Is it good?

ALEX: It’s really good.

WOMAN: It sounds really good.

ALEX: Yeah, one of our listeners told us to come – go get sandwiches.

PJ: Do you feel like he like knew what he was talking about now?

ALEX: Yeah, I thought he was gonna be — like I walked in there and I was like, this place looks like every deli I’ve ever been to in New York City. Great, they have fancy cookies? Big deal. And then —

PJ: And then it turns out that —

ALEX: And then it turns out that this sandwich is pretty legendary, yeah.

PJ: Alex’s dad is a judge.

WOMAN: (laughs)

ALEX: He’s a retired judge.

PJ: He literally walks around his life judging things, just like his son. But he gets paid for it.

ALEX: So here’s a true story. One time I was watching TV with my dad, and you know Paradise Lost, that documentary about the Robin Hood Hills, the three kids who —

WOMAN: Yeah.

ALEX: Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Do you know what I’m talking about?

PJ: People thought that they did a crime but they didn’t do a crime?

ALEX: They were three kids who were really into heavy metal, and and it was right during the Satanic Panic —

PJ: Good name for a heavy metal band.

ALEX: And I was watching it with my dad, and he was like drinking, my dad was like having a couple beers and like loosening up after work and whatever, and so we were watching the movie, and every couple minutes, he’d be like, “That guy? That guy’s guilty.”

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: I was like, “How do you know, Dad?” And he was like, “I just tell by the look in his eyes. How do you think I judge?”

PJ: Oh my god, that’s so scary.

ALEX: He was joking, but it was so funny. (laughs)

PJ: That’s funny.

[car noises]

PJ: OK, you wanna do – you wanna do ads?

ALEX: Yeah, um, we need the ad music.

PJ: I have the ad music on phone.

ALEX: That is so nerdy.

PJ: You really think it’s that nerdy?

ALEX: No, I think it’s cute. I think you’re cute!

PJ: Oh god. You should leave it at nerdy.

ALEX: Alright, let me know when you’re ready.

PJ: Ready, go.

[Alex reads ad over ad music]

PJ: You are not turning, no you are not turning.

[continues reading ads]

[paper bag rustling]

ALEX: I’m, I’m stopping my tape for a second.

[pause]

ALEX: Uh. Alright Matt Lieber, I am going to mic you up and you are going to take calls for PJ for a while. Um, so you might in a —

MATT LIEBER: Check, check, check. Where’s the level? Oh OK there it is. How do the calls end? Do people have to decide themselves to hang up, or?

ALEX: We can hang up whenever we want, but I’m not like a monster. But uh, we are probably gonna get going in a minute, so I wish PJ would get off his butt and we could leave.

[Damiano talking in background]

Where’s PJ?

TIM: I think he just went to lay down on the couch for a little while, he’ll meet up with you.

MATT: OK.

[Phone ding noise]

ALEX: What a baby.

MATT: What a fucking baby. (laughs)

ALEX: What a fucking baby. Unbelievable.

MATT: OK, let’s go.

ALEX: Alright, let’s go.

[door opening]

[phone pickup noise]

ALEX: Hi, this is Alex Goldman and Matt Lieber, PJ is a baby who’s laying down on a couch right now because he can’t handle it.

MAN: Because he’s been awake for like 30-some hours and that’s just too much?

ALEX: But he hasn’t! He slept last night! I stayed up!

MAN: So what’re you gonna do tonight? You guys got another, I don’t know how many hours, 17 hours?

ALEX: That — listen, I don’t know what PJ’s gonna do. But, I mean, he also made a very bad tactical decision and ate a bunch of McDonalds.

MATT: That – that is really gonna make the next 15 hours a lot harder.

[horn music playing in background]

[Phone pickup noise]

ALEX: Hello, this is Alex Goldman from the Reply All podcast, it is 6:53 p.m., I would be here with PJ Vogt but he’s a wiener and he fell asleep. I’m here with Matt Lieber instead.

MAN: Hello?

MATT: Hi.

ALEX: Hi, who am I talking to?

NOAH: This is Noah, I’m calling from Toronto.

ALEX: So, uh —

MATT: What’s up Noah.

ALEX: What can we do for ya?

NOAH: I have a question which is a little bit of a strange thing to call into a show and ask strangers about —

ALEX: OK?

NOAH: — but I want to know if it’s a good idea to ask my best friend out.

ALEX: Uh, oooh. PJ would say no, because PJ doesn’t believe in telling people your feelings. That like you have to do, like, very complicated dances around the truth in order to, uh, tell people how you feel. And I think that you should probably go for it, even — but you need to go for it with the full realization that you might, if she is not interested or he is not interested, you will lose him or her not only as a potential love interest but as a friend.

NOAH: Yes, and that is terrifying to me. Keep in mind that I’m in highschool, and this is a setting like that, so.

MATT: Wait, you’re in high school?

NOAH: Yeah.

ALEX: How old are you?

MATT: What grade are you?

NOAH: I’m 15, I’m in grade 10.

MATT: And how long have you known your best friend, tell us about him or her.

NOAH: Uh, she — I’ve known her for, um, about a year and bit now. We’ve been like really close friends since pretty much the beginning of grade 9, when we first met.

MATT: Have you gone out with anyone before?

NOAH: No, that’s the problem, that’s why it’s scary.

MATT: Yeah. So, a couple things. One is I feel totally ill-equipped to give advice about this subject.

ALEX: Why? What are the qualifications?

MATT: Because I was horrible at dealing with the situation you’re in when I was your age. I inevitably messed it up. Like there was one girl who I had a super big crush on and we went to a dance, and I was too afraid to ask her to dance. However, she asked me to dance —

ALEX: Wow.

MATT: Do you know what I said?

ALEX: No.

MATT: I said no.

ALEX: Why?

MATT: Because I figured once we started dancing I still wouldn’t know what to do.

NOAH: Yeah.

MATT: So I feel very ill-equipped to give an answer to this. But I do think that Goldman’s initial response, which is like, the issue with asking her out, is that if she says no you should be prepared to have the relationship be lost entirely — I don’t think is true. Because I think we thought you were a little older, but the fact that you’re in high school somehow makes it, like — I think if you ask her and it doesn’t go well, it’s still something like you could recover from. I think you should go for it, and I actually think you are – you have very good instincts, and you should be confident when you broach the subject to her. And —

NOAH: OK.

MATT: — the worse that can happen is not that bad.

ALEX: Good luck Noah.

PJ: Good luck Noah!

NOAH: Alright, bye, thank you so much.

MATT: That was good. Man, do you remember the intensity of those emotions?

ALEX: Yes.

[phone pick-up tone]

PJ: Reply All call in show, Reply All call-in show.

MATT: (laughs)

ALEX: Spooky.

PJ: Is it just us three?

MATT: Yeah.

ALEX: I think so.

PJ: Where are you guys? I’m back at the office.

ALEX: We’re coming back.

MATT: We’re coming back to you.

PJ: Oh, OK, I’ll hang out here and wait for you.

[phone pick-up noise]

AUTOMATED VOICE: Tuesday 7 p.m. Hour 33.

[phone pick-up noise]

PJ: Welcome to the Reply All Value Surplus Store and Mattress Giant.

ALEX: You want 17 new mattresses for one penny? 18th for the 9.99 special, come in for the friendship, stay for the hugs! [pause] There’s no one there. (laughs)

PJ: Not with that attitude.

ALEX: I wonder if there’s gonna be any more callers, or if that’s it.

PJ: You know what my prediction is? More callers. And here’s one right now.

ALEX: Reply All nighttime.

PJ: Reply All nighttime team.

ALEX: Yeah, night team time.

PJ: Night team time.

MAN: Hello?

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: Welcome to Reply All night team time team. This is, uh, Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, we’re comin’ atcha hot.

MAN: I made it on?

PJ & ALEX: Either that or this is a very long recorded message.

ALEX: Sorry, the conference is busy, please call back again.

MAN: Wait, it’s busy?

ALL: (laugh)

ALEX: Night team time! What can we do for ya bud?

PETER CARROLL: Oh man. This is crazy, I have to tell you, um, my name’s Peter Carroll. You’ve made me feel like a 9-year old boy sitting on my parents’ bed, trying to call the local radio station.

PJ: People always say that.

ALEX: Yeah. You’d be surprised how much we hear that.

PJ: Um, well thank you, I mean you’re welcome? I don’t know.

ALEX: So, Peter, welcome to night time team. What can we do for you today?

PETER: I just wanted to call and thank you for such a great show. Uh …

PJ: There’s gotta be more than that, we gotta do more.

ALEX: Yes, we need more.

PJ: What — do you want to hear —

ALEX: Listen, nighttime team doesn’t thank each other.

PJ: Nighttime team doesn’t thank each other.

PETER: (laughs)

PJ: Where in the world are you?

PETER: Have you — I’m standing on a dock in Madison, Wisconsin.

PJ: A dock?

PETER: We’re visiting — it’s the only quiet place we could come and talk, so.

PJ: What does it look like there?

PETER: I’m at this — I can see the capitol across the water, it’s really beautiful. The lights on the water —

ALEX: Um, can you —

PETER: — and fish jumping around me.

ALEX: What does it sound like where you are?

PETER: It’s a breeze, there’s like the freeway nearby. When I walked out here, a fish jumped. It’s really freaky. But yeah, it’s really still.

ALEX: Can you hear the water at all?

PETER: If I bounce on the dock, a little bit.

ALEX: Can you put your phone near the water and bounce on the dock a little bit? Try not to knock it off into the water.

PETER: Yeah, I’m gonna see how deep it is.

PJ: This is like rural phone sex.

ALEX: PJ don’t be gross.

PJ: It is! You’re like a lake fetishist.

ALEX: I’m trying to get some no — some ambi from the world.

PJ: Ugh, god.

PETER: You want some ambient noise. Yeah, lemme — I think I’ll have to splash, but let me try.

[water splashing noise]

PJ: (gasps)

PETER: Did that come out?

PJ: That came out!

ALEX: That did!

PJ: We got some Madison water!

ALEX: PJ was so cynical, and then he gasped with delight when he heard it.

PJ: I just thought the way you were asking him felt a little dirty, is all.

PETER: (laughs)

ALEX: Calls on the phone, never leave me alone. Calls in my — eyes.

PJ: Don’t.

ALEX: Yeah, just answer them, I know.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Please press any number, then the pound sign.

[phone beep]

AUTOMATED VOICE: Welcome to the conference.

WOMAN: Hello?

AUTOMATED VOICE: You are being recorded.

[phone pick-up tone]

PJ: Welcome to the Reply All Mini-Mall.

ALEX: Live from the Gimlet Media complex in beautiful town-town ma-noun-town. It’s Goldman and Vogt, one night only, together at last.

WOMAN: Hi, I can’t believe I got you actually.

ALEX: (laughs) Hi, how are you, where are you calling from?

WOMAN: Uh, I’m calling from Basel in Switzerland.

ALEX & PJ: Whoa!

PJ: Awesome!

WOMAN: Yes!

PJ: What time is it there —

WOMAN: But I’m from India — it’s 3:18 p.m.

PJ: Oh, that sounds nice.

WOMAN: No, sorry, a.m. 3:18 a.m.

ALEX: Three in the morning.

PJ: Why are you awake at three in the morning?

WOMAN: Uh, I am a bit depressed about the world right now. And so I wanted to try and call just to remind myself that there are good people and that the world does not suck as badly as it feels like right now.

PJ: That is so nice. What — are you stressed from stuff in your actual, like real, like personal life?

WOMAN: Uh, yes? Um, yeah. So I’m 24 and I kissed a guy for the first time like a month ago, maybe.

PJ: Congratulations! That’s really exciting.

WOMAN: I — it was not nice! I did not like it! So now I am wondering if I should explore my seuxality a bit before I, um … before — like, how do I know I’m straight? I don’t know that. So, um … but then if I have to talked to to my dad, especially in obtuse terms about this, he has, um … he is very homophobic, so. (sighs) Things are strained at home right now because I feel I cannot be honest about my stuff.

PJ: Well, there … I mean, people’s parents never have good ideas about their sex lives. Like they’re – they always have dumb, old ideas, and so you just should not tell them while you’re figuring stuff out.

WOMAN: (laughs) Yeah, but what if I find out that I don’t like guys and I like women, then I can never tell my dad that. He would never accept that. So maybe it’s better not to find out than to find out and lie about it.

PJ: I don’t know, I feel like, find out first of all. Also, like — millions of bad kissers out there, just walking around like time bombs.

TIM: Can I tell her about my first kiss?

PJ: Tim is here, he wants to tell you about his first kiss.

WOMAN: (laughs)

TIM: Hey, how’s it going, I’m Tim.

WOMAN: Hi.

TIM: My first kiss was terrible, it was like a teeth-clashing kiss. Where you’re both so excited to kiss and you both open your mouths like horses and your teeth are out and your teeth just smash together. It was very — it was awkward and painful, and everything that followed was bad.

ALEX & PJ: (laugh)

TIM: For a while. Anyway, my experience is the – the first moments give you very poor indication of what is to follow, personally.

WOMAN: (laughing) Thank you, that’s actually reassuring, even though I’m sure … that was very nice of you to share, thank you. Because (laughing) there was a lot of tongue involved in my kiss, and I was like, ewww.

ALEX & PJ: (laugh)

WOMAN: I’m not worried about finding out that I like women, honestly. I would prefer that, honestly, because my experience with guys hasn’t been that good, but I have super nice girlfriends, so. But like my father is sort of like my best friend —

PJ: Ah…

WOMAN: — like he’s more of a friend than a — like, it shocks me, he’s so open-minded about everything else. This has been a really big chasm between us, is that’s how you pronounce chasm? Ch-asm?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: Yes, that’s how you pronounce it.

WOMAN: OK. (laughs)

PJ: But it’s like … you can’t … I feel like you’re gonna have to … I think that if someone stops you from finding out something really important about yourself, then you resent them. Like I think you gotta go find out, then find out what the fallout is.

ALEX: Not only that, but if you continue … like, if you deny yourself happiness to maintain your relationship with your dad, I feel like that could end up bringing — that could end up making you resent your dad, which is like, what good is this very close friendship you have if you – if you are so resentful of him? Like that feels terrible.

WOMAN: That’s true, I have not been talking to him properly for the last one month. (sighs) Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re right.

ALEX: I’m really sorry, this sounds really, really hard.

WOMAN: (laughs) No, it’s fine, it’s … um, I am good at compartmentalizing, so it’s fine.

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: (laughs) Me too.

WOMAN: (laughing) Like I worry about some stuff, and then I focus my worry to other stuff. Thank you, it was good to talk.

ALEX: I hope — just take care of yourself, don’t be too hard on yourself.

WOMAN: Thank you, thank you. You too. You two are really great, please keep up the good work. Thank you.

ALEX: Thanks.

PJ: Thanks. Get some sleep.

WOMAN: (laughs) Bye.

ALEX: Bye.

PJ: Bye.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Tuesday 10 p.m.

PJ: (singing) I’m on a hunt, to find, a nemesis.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Hour 36.

[phone pick-up tone]

AUTOMATED VOICE: You are being recorded.

[phone pick-up noise]

PJ: (in robot voice) We’re sorry, the conference is full.

[silence, people rustling in background]

PJ: Or is it?

WOMAN: Sorry!

PJ: Oh that person totally hung up.

WOMAN: No, wait, no, I’m here!

PJ: (laugh)

WOMAN: I was like, they wouldn’t do that, OK!

[can cracking open]

PJ: I’m on the hunt for nemesises. I wanna know who’s got a nemesis.

ALEX: It’s pronounced nemeses.

WOMAN: Nemesi?

PJ: Do you have a nemesis?

WOMAN: Do I have a nemesis?

ALEX & PJ: Yeah.

WOMAN: I wouldn’t say I have a person …

PJ: But?

WOMAN: Who’s a nemesis.

PJ: But?

WOMAN: Like, maybe some concept?

PJ: Oh, no concepts.

ALEX: No concepts, gotta be a person.

PJ: No concepts, gotta be a person.

WOMAN: Why not, why not?

[people in background laughing]

WOMAN: Like, uh, like rampant materialism.

ALEX & PJ: No!

ALEX: Booooo.

PJ: No!

ALEX: Thumbs down, thumbs down, that’s not a nemesis.

PJ: A nemesis is like — listen. Uh … I went to a wedding last weekend, and I wasn’t wearing a tie, which I think is, whatever. I was trying to decide if I felt OK not wearing a tie. And I was like walking to the ceremony and I opened the door and all these people were wearing ties, so I was like OK I’m gonna go get a tie. I’m walking back to my room and I pass a group of five people, all men, not wearing ties, and I was like, “Oh, I was gonna go back to my room and get a tie, but since you guys aren’t wearing ties I feel good about it.” And this one guy in the group, who I didn’t know, was like, “Well, you could button the top button of your shirt.”

ALEX: Ooooh.

PEOPLE IN BACKGROUND: (laugh)

PJ: That man —

ALEX: You got played.

PJ: — is now my nemesis. My nemesis isn’t like —

WOMAN: Wait.

PJ: — people who are judgemental and give unsolicited opinions. That man’s my nemesis!

WOMAN: Then I totally have a nemesis.

PJ: Yes! We are there!

WOMAN: That I made today.

ALEX: (gasps)

PJ: Tell me about the new nemesis.

ALEX: Let’s get into it.

PJ: Fresh nemesi!

WOMAN: So basically, I’m a second year at Berkeley, right?

PJ: OK.

ALEX: Follow you so far.

WOMAN: And today I ran into this girl (laughing) who went to my high school. Uh, and we had like Spanish class together my senior year, it was like a pretty small class, so like, we definitely know who each other are. And I saw her at the beginning of the year, she just started this year, and I was like “Oh, hey, how’s it going,” you know, “let me know if you need anything this year.” She just started, she’s a freshman. She’s like, “Oh cool, thanks!” And then today she walks by me, looks at me — my name is Nicky, right — she looks at me and goes, “Tara! Oh my god, hi!”

PJ: (gasps) That! Is! Nemesis! Behavior!

WOMAN: It seems like a small thing, but it made me so angry!

PEOPLE IN BACKGROUND: (laughing)

PJ: That’s a nemesis! You have a nemesis!

WOMAN: I was like, OK, I thought – I thought … That’s my nemesis, she’s definitely my nemesis now.

PJ: Welcome to having a nemesis.

WOMAN: Her name — I don’t want to say —

ALEX: I think that —

WOMAN: Thank you, it’s really exciting.

PJ: OK, now, hold on.

WOMAN: (laughing)

PJ: Follow-up question. What’s her name?

WOMAN: My name?

PJ: No, her name. Your nemesis.

WOMAN: I can’t say that, you guys have to promise that you won’t —

PJ: I can’t — OK, that’s OK. Just picture her in your brain right now, OK?

WOMAN: Her name’s Alex.

PJ: OK. Oooh, that’s my nemesis’s name also. OK, so Alex, the way you feel about Alex …

WOMAN: Yeah?

PJ: Compared to the way you feel about, like, rampant materialism or whatever? Doesn’t compare.

PEOPLE IN BACKGROUND: (laugh)

PJ: Nobody cares about rampant materialism, you care about your nemesis!

ALEX: I care about rampant materialism.

WOMAN: I care about materialism, it’s tearing our society — OK, it’s Alex sure.

PJ: Yesss.

ALEX: Yeah, not an Alex fan either.

PJ: I don’t know what point I just proved, but it feels really good.

ALEX: Do you remember when – do you remember when, uh, Moe Tucker became like a Tea Party person? Do you know —

PJ: Moe Tucker?

MAN: Yeah.


ALEX: So —

PJ: Who’s Moe Tucker?

ALEX: Moe Tucker was in the Velvet Underground.

PJ: Moe Tucker became a — ? Like the one who sings the really pretty song?

ALEX: No, that’s Nico.

PJ: No, the one, “After Hours.” I think it’s … Wait, hold on a second. I think it’s Moe Tucker. The drummer.

ALEX: Yeah.

PJ: My favorite Velvet Underground song, Moe Tucker sings. You don’t know this song?

ALEX: No.

PJ: Alright, wait, I’m just gonna play you this song first. Yeah this is like my top four song. OK, you ready?

MOE TUCKER: (singing) If you close the door, the night could last forever. Leave the sunshine out, and say hello to never. All the people are dancing and they’re having such fun, I wish it could happen to me. But if you close the door, I’d never have to see the day again. If you close the door, the night could last forever. Leave the wine glass out and drink a toast to never. Oh someday I know —

[trombone begins playing along in background]

MOE TUCKER: Someone will look into my eyes, and say (echoing) hello …

[trombone plays echoing minor notes in background]

ALEX: I need to lay down for a minute.

MAN: Alright.

PJ: What time is it in New Zealand right now?

MAN: It’s half-past 7 in the evening. Yeah, I’m making dinner.

MAN: Hi, I’m Nico, I’m calling from Germany.

PJ: Hey Nico, where in Germany are you?

MAN: Um, near Koblenz, it’s between Frankfurt and Köln, Cologne.

PJ: Cool, what time is it over there?

MAN: It’s, I think, 9 o’clock, so I’m ready to get to go to work. Um, sorry, one second, I think someone’s coming with a package to my door, so —

PJ: OK.

MAN: But I just have to sign something.

[Men speaking German]

PJ: Where in New Zealand are you?

MAN: I’m in a little small town called Greymouth. Kind of the wilder, more dramatic part of the country, like the mountains come right down to the sea.

PJ It sounds like the end of the world, like the edge of the world.

MAN: It feels like the edge of the world sometimes.

PJ: I feel like I’m on the moon right now. I feel like I’m on the actual moon and you’re on Mars.

MAN: (laughs)

PJ: Did you have Taco Tuesday today?


WOMAN: Oh, of course. Do you not do that in New York?

PJ: No, I mean, we do Waffle Wednesdays, Turkey Thursdays are big …

WOMAN: What?

PJ: Alex fell asleep on the couch.

MAN: Ah really?

PJ: Yeah, it’s very adorable. I think he was trying to look at his computer, so his computer’s open. It’s like, there’s a glow of the computer on his face, and he’s not wearing shoes or socks. He looks like a guy who’s using free internet at a library and fell asleep.

MAN: Excellent. Cool, well, have a fun next 7 ½ hours.

PJ: Ugh, God.

[trombones fade out]

[phone pick-up tone]

PJ: Hello? This is the Reply All call-in show, who’s calling?

WOMAN: My name is Julie, and I am in the stairwell of a La Quinta Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona …

PJ: Wait, the stairwell of what?

WOMAN: And … of La Quinta Inn, Arizona.

PJ: Why are you travelling?

WOMAN: I am taking my grandpa to get, uh, surgery in the morning in Phoenix, and we live in Tucson, Arizona. So we are staying in the fantastic La Quinta Inn for a couple of weeks, probably. And, uh, I’m just calling because I don’t really know who else to call at 11 p.m. at night, or I guess three in the morning for you guys.

PJ: Well, we’re — well, Alex is asleep right now, but I’m here. I’m here.

WOMAN: (laughs)

PJ: Is it a —

WOMAN: How are you doing?

PJ: It’s pretty much fine, honestly. Turns out you can do anything that’s stupid.

WOMAN: Uh-huh.

PJ: Your grandfather’s surgery, is it like an OK thing, are you feeling OK about it?

WOMAN: Um, he’s 92, so any kind of surgery is a little scary. And he, um, he has a kind of giant, cancerous tumor on his hip.

PJ: Oof.

WOMAN: Oh, it’s OK, I didn’t – I didn’t call for, like, the therapy.

PJ: I’m not good at it anyway, but I am sorry, if I can just say that.

WOMAN: No, it’s OK. I, um …. I called because I was thinking earlier, I was talking to him, and I have a tendency to record things, when I can, and because of his health I’ve been feeling pressured to record him a lot, which makes me feel bad because then I think that I’m engineering these moments with him instead of just appreciating him.

And I … so, today I decided not to take the recorder, and we were packing up and going to the hospital and stuff like that – when we checked into the hospital with my grandpa, he had this really sweet conversation with the lady who was checking in. And she had this Austrian accent, and I think because English was not her native language she was a little bit blunter than usual, and I think that pleased my grandpa, and they had just the sweetest 10-minute conversation. And in the back of my mind I kept thinking shit, I should have just grabbed this, ‘cause this is so good, and I just spent the last four hours kind of kicking myself thinking ugh, if I had just grabbed this I would have it to hold forever, and I don’t know if I’ll remember it.

PJ: What do you remember them saying to each other?

WOMAN: Oh, they were … She was trying to get all his information, and one of the questions was, “Are you hearing impaired?” And she automatically filled “No,” and my grandpa proceeded to shout, like five times, “What, what did she say? What did this lady say?” And then other people started laughing, you know, stuff like that.

PJ: Your grandfather’s got good timing.

WOMAN: Yeah, it was, that’s why it was so perfect. And then other times, you know, you’ll — I’ll have my recorder and the only sound I get is like the fridge humming for like 55 minutes because my grandpa’s not in the mood to talk to me, and I guess that’s just how it goes?

PJ: I think maybe the nicest thing about having it is that you would feel like, well, no matter what, this is saved, and I don’t have to feel the fear of if I’m losing it, like I can just be here, and then later if I want it I’ll have it.

[pause]

PJ: What time, is it tomorrow?

WOMAN: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s not quite midnight. Oh yeah, it’s almost midnight, in a second. Is it 3 or 4 in the morning where you are?

PJ: It’s about to be 3.

WOMAN: Oh. I’m sorry I’m a little rough.

PJ: That’s OK. You know what, I made this choice. I made my lack of a bed.

WOMAN: Did you — I know. Are you starting to dread the call, like the ring?

PJ: No, no, I just — I’m lying. Sometimes I totally dread the ring. Sometimes you think you know what the call’s going to be before you pick it up, but you never really do.

WOMAN: Sure, sure.

PJ: (yawns) Oh my god. Um …

WOMAN: Mhm.

PJ: I want to try to fall asleep real quick, can I ask you a weird favor? Can you try to just like —

WOMAN: Yeah, do you want me to leave it on mute?

PJ: Yes. Or you don’t even have to leave it on mute, it’s fine, just leave it on for a while.

WOMAN: Yeah, I’m gonna mute it. I really like your show, but there’s something about us both falling asleep with the phone on —

PJ: That is too weird.

WOMAN: — that is a little too intimate, and like high school boyfriend-y.

PJ: I completely appreciate that boundary. Um, but thank you for leaving it on, that is extremely nice.

WOMAN: Yeah, um, that’s what I did the first time I called too, that’s like my thing. I did like a 5-minute break at like 6 p.m. on the first day.

PJ: Oh my god, you have no idea. That was like the first time I was crashing really bad. That break was so good. You bring … silence.

WOMAN: I do. Um, OK, goodnight.

PJ: Goodnight.

WOMAN: Bye.

PJ: Bye.

(phone rustling noise)

PJ: O-K.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Wednesday, 9 a.m. Hour 47.

(phone pick-up tone)

WOMAN: Hello, Lucy wants to play you a song.

MAN: Oh, hi.

WOMAN: Hi, hi! There’s an actual person here, that’s awesome.

MAN: Hi.

WOMAN: Hi.

MAN: Uh, sorry, what was that about playing a song?

WOMAN: Lucy wants to play you a song. It’s a Christmas song. She’s my daughter, she’s 12. And, um —

MAN: Wait, so I think, um —

WOMAN: Want to say hi, Lucy? Oh, go ahead.

MAN: So, I think we’ve just been connected to each other, I think we’re two members of the public.

WOMAN: Oh, you’re kidding.

MAN: Yeah.

WOMAN: OK. Who’s this?

MAN: (laughs) My name is Steve, I live in Texas.

WOMAN: Oh, that’s weird.

MAN: Yeah, it’s interesting.

WOMAN: (laughs) Alright. Well, do you want to hear a song regardless?

MAN: Sure, I guess so.

WOMAN: (laughing) OK.

STEVE: (laughs)

WOMAN: I’m gonna put this on speakerphone.

MAN: OK.

WOMAN: Alright, ready? (to Lucy) Want to say hi? No. (laughing) Are you shy? OK. Go for it, you’re just playing someone a song.

[Greensleeves plays on piano]

WOMAN: Bravo!

MAN: (claps) Very nice.

WOMAN: Hey, you hear that! He’s clapping. What do you say?

LUCY: Thank you.

WOMAN: (laughs) That was funny.

MAN: (laughs)

WOMAN: Alright, well, this has been interesting. (laughs) I’ll talk —

MAN: Nice to make your acquaintance. Have a good one.

WOMAN: OK, you too. Bye.

[phone hang-up tone]

CREDITS

 


PJ: Reply All is hosted by me, PJ Vogt, and Alex Goldman. Our show’s produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Chloe Prasinos, and Damiano Marchetti. Our executive producer is Tim Howard.

Our editor is Peter Clowney. This is our last week with Peter. Peter, we are going to miss you so much. Thank you for all your edits and wisdom, and for stopping the show from burning down about a million times. We are very excited for your secret project.

Production assistance from Thane Fay. We were mixed by Rick Kwan, with additional help from Casey Holford.

Matt Lieber is a late-night phone call from a friend.

Special thanks this week to Seth Lind, Chris Neary, Jorge Just, Austin Thompson, and Paul Ford.

Adam Quinn both designed the technology that made this whole experiment work, and also came in and saved the day when we got way, way more calls than we anticipated or planned for.


We had horns by Peter Nelson.

Our theme song is by the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Our ad music is by Build Buildings. You can find more episodes of the show at iTunes.com/ReplyAll or wherever else you get your podcasts. Our website is replyall.soy. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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