Telemarketer Abuse


Lately I’ve been getting a bunch of calls from telemarketers on my public phone number (the one used to make reservations, etc in my actual name). Not one of the ones used for the doctor, emergency contact from school, etc. Apparently the “Do Not Call List” is falling apart. The strange thing is that it nearly always seems like the same guy, even though the calls are coming from all over. Minneapolis, San Diego, the local area code, 800-numbers. Can’t help but think there’s something foul afoot, but it’s hard to figure out just what.

Back in the day, I used to be rude to telemarketers, but I’ve mellowed a bit. You know, no one is sitting there in elementary school dreaming of growing up to be a telemarketer. Randomly cold-calling people with some kind of BS on how you can save them money on their car insurance or utilities, or get them a once-in-a-lifetime deal on foreclosed investment properties IN MY AREA. These people had a run of bad luck, or made some bad choices, and now they are getting paid to be annoying. So I’ve been generally polite but firm, and ask them not to call anymore.

But this business about the same guy calling has me falling back into my normal routine of hostility and suspicion. Which brings out the native a$$hole in me. So after telling this guy one more time that I’m on the Do Not Call List, I hang up and light up an Arturo Fuente Hemingway on the screen porch. Three puffs in, the phone rings. Area code, LA.

On comes this pleasant-voiced woman who says I’ve won a cruise out of Miami. She gives me specific dates, but then starts talking about possible upgrades to make this a wonderful event. Normally, I would have rung off on her, but I had left my battered leatherbound copy of Herodotus inside and didn’t feel like getting up to get it just yet. Her voice was like honey, and as she spoke of suites and hot tubs and all-you-can drink specials and excursions I got lost in a day-dream. I pictured her as a winsome, buxom, half-innocent redhead whose fiance had gotten cold feet at the altar. Left with the shocking bills of the canceled wedding, she was working extra to earn money to pay off the debt. Young, vivacious, skin like cream, a sparkling laugh that came from deep within and shone in her eyes. A girl with a taste for the finer things, but no way to pay for them. A woman broken, yet hopeful for the future, dreaming about a stable older man. Wisened through her recent bitter experience, none to particular about the quirks of a physically scarred and emotionally self-centered man her father’s age. Accepting of the smell of cigars in his five-day beard and single-malt whiskey on his breath, the odd hours and the habits of secretiveness. I imagined her pleasure in seeing and experiencing the joys and excitement of places that she told others about, but could never visit on the $7.65 plus commission that she made doing it. In short, I was dreaming of taking her up on her offer of an upgraded cruise, as long as she came along with me.

Suddenly her voice, a little louder than before, broke me from my reverie. The ash fell from the cigar, which was now nearly burned down to the nub.

“The number?!?”

“Beg pardon?”

“Your credit card number?”

“My credit card number?”

“Yes, Mr. Daley,” she said slowly and distinctly, “I need your credit card number, and the verbal authorization to bill you $5,576.43.”

That was a dash of ice-water! What the h3ll had I agreed to while lost in my idle day-dream? I remembered saying “Uh-huh” a lot, pretty much whenever there was a silence, but my mind was in the Caribbean at the time.

“I don’t have a credit card,” I stammered.

“Now, Mr. Daley,” she said skeptically, “Our records here show that you have a VISA from {bank redacted} with a credit limit of $35,000.

Now, that is true. It’s also true that I have multiple credit cards under the names of shell companies in New Mexico, owned by corporations in Delaware, owned by corporations in the Seychelles, owned by corporations that only live in a locked bank vault in Bermuda or Liechtenstein. But the credit card she cited, I only use to book hotel rooms and rental cars when traveling as me. And I always keep the actual limit to $200 for emergencies, and only lift it when it’s in use. It’s a necessary annoyance of modern life, before anyone rents you anything. I just pay in cash wherever I go. I sure as h3ll wasn’t going to actually USE the thing, and certainly not on some cruise that was going to cost me over five grand, even before I invited this stranger to go with me. Forget it! So I thought fast.

“Oh, you must be thinking of my Dad! I’m Finnegan Daley JUNIOR. I’m only 15 years old! But hey, is it okay if I still go on this cruise??”

She swore, and hung up.

Tamping out the nub in the ashtray, I reflected on the past hour. I got to dream a good dream, had a good laugh, saved myself over five grand, and possibly even the hassle of acquiring another ex-wife. All in all, a good day.




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