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“Robert”

I had to get a new phone number some months ago. My phone had been out of commission, and I didn’t know how long I would have to keep it that way, so I let my regular bill time roll by and kept my money pocketed. I was forced to replace it while I was away, all of a sudden, to touch base with home.

Unfortunately, I got one of those recycled numbers the phone companies love to use so much. My number apparently once belonged to a guy named Robert. I know this because I’m getting incessant phone calls every day from people who apparently have some kind of business connection with this guy. I’m halfway convinced they’re actually a criminal organization, or at least not a legit one: I’ve gotten two different answers to my question about where they were from: One said they were there on behalf of Citibank, the other said Discover Card. It really doesn’t matter much anymore though, because I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I’m not Robert, have no idea whether or not this Robert character even exists, and would like them to leave me the fuck alone.

No matter what, the way they’ve been coming at me probably places them in stalker territory. They’ve been calling me like clockwork, twice a day – once in the early morning, once in the afternoon – every day. Every time, I tell them the same thing: I’m not Robert. Robert doesn’t live here. Robert doesn’t even exist.

I’ve even tried calling them to tell them to leave me alone, but part of the reason I suspect they’re illegitimate is because whenever I call, I have to enter my own number to get into their account, and the voice machine tells me it doesn’t have the number on its record. Now, this isn’t the customer service number to Citi or Discover I’m dialing; it’s the one that gets left on my phone whenever this organization calls. What little information I’ve been able to coax out of them includes their address, which I asked for with the intent of going down to their office and straightening this situation out myself with some very unkind and pointed words. Sadly, though, Sioux City is too far away for me to just ride down there. My bike would need some serious preparations before I tried to make that trip.

These collectors have brought out my worst phone behavior. I’ve worked phone jobs before, so I have an excellent phone manner and a deep sympathy for those who are stuck working in that field. I try to treat telemarketers with the same kind of courtesy I would give them if they were trying to sell me something in person. I was doing that with whoever these guys are at first. Then I started answering and hanging up without saying anything first. Finally, I started returning fire. I hit them with my worst one afternoon as I was walking out of work, when they decided they had the time to call me four times that day, screaming myself hoarse into some guy’s ear. By then, I didn’t care anymore. They were guilty of not getting what I was trying to say.

The calls finally stopped after that, but a month later, they started again. I’m starting to fear a trip to Sioux City may actually be in order, but having been on the other side of this equation, I don’t believe it would do any good. After all, telemarketers have methods of getting back at customers they don’t like. They’re people too. They very frequently hate the fact that they were sucked into such awful work, and they have around the same tolerance level for rudeness as anyone.

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About Nicholas Croston

I like to think. A lot. I like to question, challenge, and totally shock and unnerve people. I am a contrarian - whatever you stand for, I'm against.

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