Last night, on the way home from work, my cell phone rang. Since my wife and daughter were supposed to be on a flight at that time, and were going to call me if something had gone wrong, I assumed that’s what the call was about. It wasn’t.

Instead, it was a text message from Cingular telling me how I can do more text messaging. This is a big moneymaker for them and is hugely popular with people about half my age, although I have sent a few text messages myself. But the one they sent me amounted to nothing more than a junk message, the equivalent of spam e-mail, or a telemarketing call interrupting dinner.

Fortunately, their message included information on how I could opt-out of receiving such messages from Cingular. All I had to do was send the word “stop” to number 3711, and that would be the end of it.

Or so I thought.

I sent the “stop” message, put the phone away, and continued home. Exactly eight seconds later, my phone rang again. This time, I was sure it was my wife calling to tell me the flight was delayed. Nope. It was another text message from Cingular! This one said, “We received your text message, thank you!”

I know this was done automatically with no direct human involvement, but someone had to program the equipment to do that in the first place. The thinking being, I suppose, “The customer won’t believe that we’re not going to bother him again unless we bother him again to tell him we won’t bother him again.”

The temptation was strong to reply to their message with a few pithy comments of my own, but since that would undoubtedly have caused yet another incoming text volley, I surrendered, temporarily, opting instead to share the story with you, here.

I expect a comment to be added by Cingular any second now.