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2005-10-05 @ 1:55 a.m.
a cautionary tale about pissing off a telemarketer

The Village is really a wonderful place to live. Its pretty, safe, idyllic, historic and now that my car is at a garage in another town, the Village's rather pristine car population (namely SUVs, Passats and Coopers) is no longer being dragged down by its one eyesore car that was built while a Democrat was still in the White House. The Ford Tempo of Doom. And yes, I knew that my car was an embarrassment to the Village. I could just feel it. You know, with its rusted out frame, missing hubcap and big dots of rust all over the body. And I'm sure people didn't really know whether to avert their eyes or attempt to buy drugs from me, since my car looked like something you'd see down in the 'hood. But now things are all idyllic and nice again. My car is not in the parking lot. The local cops are no longer doing surveillance on it, trying to figure out if its abandoned, or whether I have 150 bags of crack cocaine to sell the kids on the way to the Middle School a couple of blocks over. I guess now, they'll just have to go back over to Starbucks to make sure nobody is stealing extra sugars.

Its been great being back in the Village though. Okay, well, except for one thing. Telemarketers. They've GOT.OUR.NUMBER. In my old apartment, I'd get maybe one telemarketing call a week. We just weren't that popular because my neighborhood, though decent, morphed into something a little less savory 5-6 blocks away and we all had the same starting prefix on our phone numbers. And gee, why would a telemarketer want to call poor people? They're certainly not going to buy a subscription to the newspaper or give money to the policeman's benevolent fund or buy tickets to the shriner's circus. They're just trying to pay their freakin' electric bill from last November.

But in The Village, we are the home base for doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors from the local university. In other words...people with money. And the telemarketers know this. They know our prefix. And they know that some of us have deep pockets. Not me, for sure, but many. So from the moment my phone was hooked up about 5 weeks ago now, I have been getting the most telemarketing calls I have ever gotten in my entire life.

Now I am aware of how to handle these calls. I always interrupt their first three words by saying, "Are you selling something?" and they usually say "No" because they are a bunch of lying bastards, and then I will immediately tell them to put me on their "Do Not Call List". Because that's what you're supposed to do. I've tried to tell my mom that....the "Put me on your Do Not Call List" thingie, but she thinks she's being a real smartie by slamming the phone down in their ear triumphantly and going back to watching one of her Lifetime movies, but what she doesn't know is that her phone number is probably just being put back in some national queue and that she'll be called again next Tuesday, and she won't remember its the same organization trying to get money out of a person who lives on $666/mo.

So since I've lived in The Village I've had people trying to sell me, yes a subscription to the local newspaper. I've had the police department trying to sell me tickets to a benefit. I've won several cruises, which if I choose to send some company the amount of the tax over and above the price of the cruise, the trip would be free...yeah right. I've won a free set of windows, but there was something about the price of installation know like $3000. I've also been offered incredible deals on digital high definition cable television, high speed internet service for $69.95/mo. (WTF? Do I get to have sex with the guy installing it for that price?)

And then there's been the various phone companies. Everyone thinks my service stinks and their service is better. My question is, how do they know? Are they talking to me? Did they get through to me when they dialed my number? Can they hear my lovely voice telling them to fuck off? Then guess what? My phone service must be okay!!

Unfortunately one day right after I moved here, one of these pariahs caught me at a weak moment. I was tired and irritable and lets not forget grumpy, so when somebody from MCI called, they asked me if Mr. Witty was home this evening. Well, first of all, I took offense that the man-person in the house would have some kind of say about our phone service, because like what's up with that? Why wouldn't the asshat of a telemarketer realize that its the woman of the house who's in charge of things like phone service and paying bills, while her male counterpart is probably out tossing around a football or feeding the Golden Retriever? So when he asked me that, I said, "Mr. Witty? Oh he moved over to the Philippines with a younger woman. I haven't heard from him since." Then there was a long pause and he cheerfully said, "Well, is the woman of the house available then?" and I said, "No. I'm the pet sitter. Mrs. Witty is out at her pilate class." And then there was another long pause and then the telemarketer said, "Well, I guess I will call back when the decision makers are home." And then I went, "...I think Mr. Witty died, so I'm not sure if you'll be able to talk to him anyways. It's really his wife who would be making all the decisions now that he's no longer with us." And then the telemarketer thanked me cheerfully and hung up.

Ok, a simple "Please put me on your Do Not Call List" would have been quite sufficient, but I was so damn sick of running to pick up the phone 1-3 times a day and them interrupting my dinner or having them cutting into my (cough) personal time with Big Ed the Vibrator, I guess I just finally snapped. Or maybe I was just taking poetic license. Or maybe my meds weren't working, I don't know. But what happened next, I guess, kind of taught me a lesson. Because since then I have gotten over 120 telemarketing calls from MCI in the last 3.5 weeks. To say I'm trapped in telemarketer hell would be an understatement.

Now you're probably saying, "Witty! Just tell them to fuck off and get a life!". Well I would love to except it appears that I am on some kind of computerized calling cycle. And its evident my name has been plugged into some kind of computerized dialing system, because I've been getting called by two phone numbers -- (973) 437-2125 and (410) 864-0019 everyday at approximately the same times and when I answer them, I hear this computerized hum and then click. In other words, there's nothing I can do about it. So I get 3-4 calls every morning between 10-11 a.m. and then 2-3 calls every afternoon between 3-5. And then I get random calls throughout the rest of the day and evening.

Am I going insane? Yes! Have I tried to do something about it? Duh! Initially I tried calling these numbers back to try and talk to a human, but they don't appear to connect to anyone. They're just commercials for MCI. And then I looked up MCI in our local phone book and called them. Their phone was no longer in service (probably somebody took a machete to one of their telemarketers when they called during "Survivor"). And then I finally went on their website and had to search for their customer service address.

Needless to say I gave them a large piece of my mind, telling them I was being harassed and that it had to stop. And that I knew my rights as a private citizen and that my rights to be put on a "Do Not Call" list were being ignored. And if this continued I was going to go to the Attorney General about their telemarketing practices as well as the media, because I had all their calls listed on my caller ID, etc. etc.

I had to wait three days for a reply and then they spelled my name wrong. And then it was merely a form letter saying, "Thanks for your interest in our company. Did you know we have all these great services for your telephone service needs?" They also said it would take 8-10 days for them to get my phone number out of their system. What?????

To which I say....FUCK YOU MCI...I wouldn't get any services from you if you were the last phone company on earth. And even though I did create a bad, possibly inflammatory story about my lost husband, that is no reason for some retard to put me into some computer dialing hell for almost a month. It would have gone on longer if I hadn't finally maxed out on seeing that fucking MCI number come up almost 30 times on my caller ID in a week.

Of course last time I moved to the Village, I got the recently turned over phone number of a Jewish lawyer named Mr. Schmeckle. At first I was getting people calling him asking if him if he wanted to renew his membership at the local golf course. But then one night I got a call, I guess from a former irate client of Lawyer Schmeckle, and they left a message on my machine saying something to the effect that they were watching me and if I made any wrong moves they would "get" me. And I didn't really know if the me was me - witty or me - Lawyer Scmeckle, so I immediately called up the phone company and because I was getting harassed they let me change my phone number with no charges.

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Lyrics by Lennon/McCartney. All angst copyright by awittykitty