#28 – The Call – Travis Williams

The phone rings.  “Hello…”

An automated voice interrupts.  “Please stay on the line; a representative will with be with you shortly.  This call may be monitored…”

I wait.  Hold music is occasionally cut off by reminders to stay on the line.  I would have hung up if it weren’t for the consoling smoothness of the mystery voice.  Sure.  I went back to reading my book.  Forty distracted seconds pass, enough to re-read the same paragraph three times.

“Lousy telemarketers,” I say to myself.  Today, I thought, revenge would be mine.

Click.  “This is Daniel, thank you for holding.  How are you doing today?”

“Brilliant!”  I smirked to myself.

“Great,” he said, not really paying attention, “do you subscribe to the Daily News?”

“No.  Gee, that would be nice,” I gleamed.  “Would you call me if I already had a subscription?”

“Oh, well you see…”

I interrupted.  “Wow, can you hold?”

“Absolutely,” he said.  I went back to reading the book.  A page and a half later, I picked up my hand-held recorder, and resumed our conversation.

“Hi.  You don’t mind if I record this do you?” I questioned.

“Umm,” he paused and breathed out through his nose, “guess not.”

I started the machine.  “Now where were we?”

“Yes,” he said, back to script, “you can get up to seventy five percent off…”

“Not sure I’m interested,” I said disappointedly.  Whistling softly, I nodded my head back and forth.

“O.K.,” he fumbled, “you can get seventy five percent off …”

I interjected, “You said that already.  Let’s try again.  Sell me.  Start with the intro, and this time, make the Daily News paramount to my life.  An oasis that will satisfy my insatiable thirst for the latest headlines, entertain me, you know, that kind of stuff.”

“You want me to what?”  He was struggling.  “Are you interested in receiving the Daily News, at seventy five percent off what you pay at the news stand?”  His agitation was percolating slowly.  I was biding for a stout brew.

“I don’t go to the news stand,” I replied coldly.

“Well,” he sputtered, “you’ll still save.”

“Tell me,” I rebutted, “why do you guys always call at dinner time?”

“I’m sorry, were you eating?”

“Yes,” I said.  I looked around for a plate of food but there was none.

“Should we call back at a better time?” he asked.

For some reason, I responded in Scottish-English, “What, an have ya come-a-callin’ agin tomorra at sevin o’cluck, intarruptin’ me luvly dinah?” Again I looked for the food.

He was huffing.  “So you don’t want the paper?”

I made a clicking noise with my mouth.  “Well, I think I might want that paper but I’m not sure.  I just don’t know!”

He was about to explode, but he kept going for some reason, like staring at a horrible accident he didn’t ever want to see.  “Do you even read the paper?” he questioned demandingly.

“I told you,” I said, barely able to contain myself, “I am blind!”

A long moment passed.  “You never told me that,” he proclaimed, replaying the conversation in his head.

I hung up and had a good laugh.  Smiling, I returned to my book.

In a small cubical, somewhere in a tall building, someone else was smiling too – grinning with grit while he put my name on a secret list, insuring the spread of my personal information to marketers nationwide.  The following Monday my first daily newspaper arrived, and a week later, a bill came too.  I paid it.  I’ve always wanted to get the paper.

~ Travis Williams, Woodland Hills, California

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