BY NORBERT RUG
They start early in the morning. A sound wakes me up from a sound sleep and I’m still in a fog. I don’t remember setting my alarm clock for this early in the morning and I slap the top of it several times. The ringing doesn’t stop though. At that point I realize it isn’t my alarm clock at all but the phone on my wife’s nightstand. I roll over and reach for it. In the process I knock her two lotions, her alarm clock and the television remote to the floor.
I stare bleary eyed at the display and the best I can make out is that it is from the 716 area code. Seeing as I don’t know everyone’s home phone and cell phone number by heart, especially that early in the morning, I answer it. It might just be a grandchild calling for help.
I say hello and a sweet sounding voice on the other end introduces herself as Jessica from “credit card services” and she says she has been trying to reach me. This is a surprise to me because I am home, at this number 24/7. She tells me this is my last chance to lower my credit card bill. Oh Jessica, don’t toy with me, I know you will be calling again, 2 or 3 times today.
Sweet sounding Jessica tells me that they have been monitoring my credit card account and can lower my interest rate. This all sounds good but I never pay interest on my credit cards. Just when I thought that we were getting along so well, she passes me off to someone else and this voice says to press 1 to talk to a representative. But I am given another option to be added to their do not call list all I have to do is press 2. I think all this does is verifies that a human answered the phone.
So I press 1 and am put on hold. A different sweet sounding voice tells me that my call is valuable, that all their representatives are busy helping other customers and my call will be answered in approximately 7 minutes. When my call is finally answered, gone are those sweet sounding voices and someone named Josh answers. He asks if I want to lower my monthly credit card bill. I answer “Actually I just want to be added to your do not call list.” I hang up the phone well knowing that MaryAnn or Sarah will be calling me soon from a different number with the very same offer. If you call back the number listed on your caller ID, you will probably reach a little old lady whose number was “spoofed“.
Later in the day, Bob or John, I forget which, calls me and offers me the deal of a life time on new windows. He says he will be having a crew in my area next week and they can look my job over. I have to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish. So I press 1 and get a real live salesman. OMG a human!
I tell him we replaced all our windows last year and I don’t need to replace them already. I then ask him to put us on his “do not call” list. I barely get this out when I hear a dial tone. I know in my heart this was an exercise in futility. Bob, John, Fred or Steve will be calling to offer me an “end of the season” discount price on siding, gutters or roofing. I think they are all related. I don’t need any of these things as I have taken care of them within the past few years.
At dinner time I am interrupted by someone that wants to help me pay for my medications. I take a chemo drug that costs over $11, 000 a month. That’s not a typo, eleven thousand dollars a month. This very expensive drug costs me a $20.00 per month copay, out of pocket, with the insurance I have purchased. If I have done my math right, that is a 550% discount. I don’t think they can do better.
I’ll be “relaxing my eyes”, after dinner, in my recliner, when the phone rings. Energy solutions, Pay less for Gas, or some other such name (every day it is a different name but the message is always the same) wants to save me a boat load of money on my utility bills. Right after that someone calls to give me the chance to save money on my phone bill. All I have to do is subscribe to their service and get VOIP. (Voice Over Internet Protocol). If someone you know that has VOIP ever called you it is like talking over a CB radio or a walkie talkie, only one of you can talk at a time.
They usually continue with this barrage of calls until around 8 PM but we have received a few after 10PM. It’s nice, all these people who want to save me money. They used to just call during the day, during the week, during business hours but they are now calling in the weekends and in the evening. They have even invaded my cell phone. Here’s a hint. If I need your service, I will let you know. This will save us both time.
Don’t call me, I’ll call you.
Norb is a writer from Lockport You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.