I was always the kid that got into trouble whether it was deserved or not.
Why? Because of my complexion. I turn red at the drop of a hat and have always had authority issues and a guilty conscience. Everything was my fault. Not because in actuality it was, but because in my head I was somehow responsible for everything. I’m still that way to a certain degree. Global warming has occurred because I’ve been lax about recycling. Just me. The steak came out too rare for the lady two tables over from me and somehow I feel like I’m morally responsible because I may or may not have sneezed when she was ordering which probably distracted the waiter and it’s because my lack of Flonase that her dinner was ruined. No one else could be responsible – just me. The cashier at the grocery store is rude to me and I wonder if my constant resting bitch face is the reason so then I try to smile which probably looks fake and will just worsen the matter. Not that they may have a bad attitude. It’s me. I’m much better than what I used to be. The exercise in self flagellation for everyone else’s bad day used to be daily. After many mistakes and someone once informing me that I’m not that relevent – it’s somewhat cured me except when it comes to family.
So in my infinite wisdom, and a streak of guilt five miles wide – I decided that we needed a house phone. Somewhere, somehow, something and someone had fallen ill in the wee hours of the morning and this clearly warranted an overdrive response of installing six phones into my house. Before I had enjoyed a few years of relative anonymity and quiet. The only access to me was my cell phone which I could turn off as needed.
Did you know that “charities” are exempt from the do not call list? I didn’t. I learned that when someone called me at 9:30 something at night looking for a donation. I was so pissed. At that time of night the only calls that have any sense of decency are either by a sick relative or George Clooney looking to take me to the Riviera.
I grew up in the days that necessitated the do not call list. My family could not get through a dinner without getting at least 2 to 3 phone calls from various organizations my favorite of which was the Starving Artists of Slovakia Fund (which I’ll get to in a moment). Usually my mother would get all lofty and loud and lecture them viciously on scamming and propriety and the sanctity of peaceful meals. My father and I took a very different attitude. We took on the challenge like it was an Olympic sport.
One evening I took the call. My father and I shot it out in rock/paper/scissors (of which I still have no idea how that idiotic game works) and I won. I know I won because I screamed loudly, “I win!” and ran to the phone. And for the record, I do not need an education in how rock/paper/scissors works. Don’t bore me with the bourgeois details. The gentleman in question asked if he could have a moment of my time. I said we were in the middle of dinner. He told me it was important. I said, “So is my dinner. It’s meatloaf. I love meatloaf.” He agreed that it was one of his favorites too. I asked if I could go back to my meatloaf and his pitch began. At the two minute mark, I started making small whimpering noises. He asked what was wrong (I was totally effing up his telemarketing mojo) and tried numerous times to resume his pitch/talk louder. Every other word I’d let out a soft cry of anguish. I finally asked him what time he was eating dinner tonight. He laughed gently and informed me that he didn’t eat until late, usually around 8:30. I asked for his home phone number. He asked why. I told him that wanted to call him at home at 8:32 just after his first forkful of dinner. He hung up on me. I’m still sad about this.
My father totally trumped me. He even got French judge to score high with his performance. The Starving Artist of Slovakia Fund called. He won rock/paper/scissors because he yelled “I win!” and beat me to the phone. The guy started in immediately that my father had to ACT NOW before the artwork sold out.
Telemarketer (TM for short) – Sir, you have the opportunity to not only put your money to a good cause but own some fine art.
Dad: How do I sign up? What’s involved? Who are you again?
TM: We represent the Starving Artists of Slovakia Fund
Dad: How do they pay you?
Dad: Wouldn’t they rather spend their money on food? No? Ok.
Dad: Go ahead. Does it matter if I’m color blind? I never did get that whole Monet thing you know? Blue and green look the same to me.
TM: Sir we’re getting off track here.
Dad: Well I should let you know what you’re up against.
TM: Sir, can we get back on topic?
Dad: If they’re starving artists, is their work any good? What if they’re dizzy from hunger? I don’t like modern art you know?
TM: Sir, they’re all great artists.
Dad: Well how do you know? Do you know all of them?
TM: Sir? If I may.
Dad: (pulling out his best John Wayne swagger) Well I’ll tell ya what….
Dad: I get paid my welfare check next week *cracks beer can* If you wanna call me back to make a deal…..Hello? Hello?
The telemarketer hung up on my dad. That is a true and significant talent right there. He strung this guy along for a solid ten minutes before this guy realized he’d been played like a fiddle.
So now flash forward one hundred years and it’s my phone. We live in the age of phone scams. I’ve been told that I owe money to credit cards I’ve never had. I’ve been told that my router is compromised. I even got the “GRANDMA?? I’ve just been mugged” call. I’ve been told it’s the IRS and after a careful audit they are arresting me and all of my kin.
I fire back most days. I don’t deem phone scammers to be an authority figure. Not even when they fake being the IRS.
“No”, I whisper, “I just use her shower when she’s not home. I’d appreciate if you could keep that between us.” They usually hang up on this one.
A good long hearty scream works wonders. Whenever they try to speak again, scream louder. That works too.
Mr. IRS guy told me he’d arrest me. I told him that Mrs. Magilla was lying on the kitchen floor because I’d killed her and since his call was originally for her, did he mean he was arresting me? Or her?
I’m really looking to beat out my Dad in the official winner takes all Olympic category for messing up a telemarketer/scammer. Mostly I want that imaginary French judge to stop giving me shitty scores.
I WANT THE GOLD!