You wouldn’t guess it without having spent some time with me at home, but my #1 frustration in life is telemarketers and phone scammers.
But I’m not frustrated like you are: it’s not because they interrupt important conversations, or because they’re annoying thieves, or any other reason you might think of.
No, it’s because they’re the only people who are exactly as stubborn and persistent as I am, and I am therefore powerless to stop them.
In normal human encounters, I come out on top by virtue of the fact that I’m willing to go to the mat over issues that other people just don’t care about; getting my takeout order exactly right is deeply important to me, down to the right sauces in the bag (which is probably why I haven’t paid for a Chipotle order in a while—it’s just been the same comped meal getting comped over and over until they learn what I mean by salad, extra veggies). But this technique doesn’t work against a recording, does it?
Ooh! Except the automated assistance line at UPS:
RECORDED VOICE: Please briefly describe the reason for your call. For example: you can say “track my package,” “request pickup” or “locations.”
ME: Missing package.
RV: … I heard you say you need a pickup. Is that correct?
RV: … Okay. Please briefly describe the reason for your call. For example: you can say “track my—
ME: Missing. Package.
RV: … I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you. Please briefly—
ME: Customer service.
RV: … I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you. Please—
ME: GET ME TO A FUCKING HUMAN RIGHT FUCKING NOW BEFORE I FUCKING BLOW UP YOUR FUCKING PHONES WITH FUCKING COMPLAINTS SO HELP ME FUCKING GOD!
RV: … Please hold while I transfer you to a customer service representative.
But in general, the machines don’t respond to profanity. Which is a real shame, because they inspire so very much of it.
ME: (answers phone)
ROBOT: Hi, this is Tom! Can I have a moment of your time to talk about—
ME: Is this a robot?
ROBOT: (fake robot laugh) No, no. There’s a real person here. Do you have a moment to talk?
ME: I hate robots. Fuckin’ takin’ over, fuckin’ robots are what’s ruining ‘Murca!
ROBOT: (talking over my entire speech) That’s okay, I’ll call back later! You have a good day now!
ME: (hangs up)
HIM: Robots again?
ME: Said he’d call back later. After insisting that he was a real person, of course.
HIM: At this point, they’re just crowd sourcing their evolution… we’re doomed.
ME: Which is why I put on the redneck act. I figure if the robot is playing a role, I shouldn’t show up as myself—that’s just rude!
HIM: We should get a robot to answer the phone and determine if the caller is a robot.
ME: That’s… a really good idea, actually.
HIM: Then they could train each other.
ME: Oh my god! You just described Spyfall for robots! (cheers, jumping around)
HIM: (sighs) Yeah, okay… that would be cool.
But then there are the humans! And I’ll tell you, they might as well be machines, because I haven’t yet figured out a way to make them stop either.
SCAMMER: Hi, this is Brenda. There’s no problem, but I’m calling you about your Discover Card—
ME: Brenda? You did say it’s Brenda, right?
SCAMMER: Yes ma’am.
ME: Your parents wish you’d never been born, and your friends only like you when you’re drunk. (hangs up)
OFFSPRING: Are you trying to make her kill herself?
She didn’t—Brenda calls me twice a week, like clockwork. I don’t even have a Discover card!
SCAMMER: Hello. Yes. Ma’am this is Mike*from Windows Technical Support—
ME: Yeah, I’ll just bet you are.
SCAMMER: Yes ma’am. I’m calling to tell you that there is a very serious problem with your Windows computer.
SCAMMER: You see, ma’am—
ME: I’m gonna stop you right there, because I can smell your bullshit from here. Microsoft has never and will never hire filthy scammer scum like you, and I want you to know that you’re going to burn in hell—a thousand years of torment for each dollar you stole from some poor trusting soul who believed your con. Maybe quit now and get a job your family can be proud of? Buy a second goat to fuck on the nights the first one won’t have you? I don’t care, but you won’t be getting any of me, so FUCK OFF! (hangs up)
That guy called back with increasingly violent sexual threats every few minutes for the rest of his shift, and a couple times a day for the next few weeks. I like to think he took my advice about the goat, though.
ME: I need to scream in frustration, but I don’t want to hurt my throat because this isn’t worth hurting my throat over.
HIM: I know.
ME: See, this is why I need an air horn.**
HIM: So you can hurt other people instead?
ME: Yes! I love how you get me.
* No it isn’t. Own your heritage, Ranjish.
** I did buy an airhorn, for phone scammers*** but it was from the dollar bin at Target and it turned out to be a wheezy li’l squeaker. It truly sounded more like a fart than a horn. I need to get a decent one.
*** Here’s how that works: you turn your phone upside down and speak quietly, explaining that you’re feeling a little under the weather and apologizing for your weak voice. A decent person would wish you health and get off the phone, but these are scammers and they will turn up their headsets and keep plugging away. When you’ve got them firmly on the hook, you hit ‘em with the air horn.