Telephone Monster


My ringing telephone triggers a dread deep in my gut. I may be interrupting what I’m doing for no good reason. The people on the other end of the line who need this telemarketing job invade my time and space. Responses that once took me a moment to compose now come fast and sometimes furious. I can think on my feet, be aggressive, even downright rude.

The intruding telephone monster has created a monster in me.

I’m paying extra each month for a tip-off ID that’s useless now. The window says “CELLULAR CALL”, how perfectly unspecific. That gut feeling throbs, but I answer, ready to click into defense mode.

A recording, one I‘ve been getting (I don‘t exaggerate) at least once a week for months, begins, “Your vehicle warranty is about to expire….” It’s always the same woman’s voice, yet it’s not always the same number on the ID. The most useful feature of my telephone service package has become a joke.

The recorded message says this is my last chance to respond or they will take me off their call list. What are they waiting for?

When I find the patience to wait through a recording, there’s an option at the end saying if I press “2” they will remove me from their call list. More than once I’ve bothered to take time and press it. I still get called.

This time I press “1” for a representative. “Mrs. Steb?” The man’s voice cues me to rally. If they can’t pronounce my name, they don’t know me, and since I don’t know them, I can unleash my frustration. Not suspecting that he’s already cut his own throat, he begins his speech.

I interrupt with, “Will you please remove this number from your call list?”

I can’t stop. I fire at him like a machine gun. “I have asked this before after listening to the same recording that I just listened to. I’ve waited through the entire recording just to press “2” and be removed from your list. I’ve done this more than once, and I keep getting called.”

“OK, ma’am. I can remove you from our list,” and then, “I‘ll have to ask you to hold while I transfer you to another number.”

My control slips. My composure fades. My voice rises. “I was holding while I listened to your relentless recorded message. I swear we get this call at least once a week, sometimes more.”

“I’ve now removed you from our list, but there are many other companies who share these numbers …”

“I’ll bet there are.” I shoot into my phone.

“Please hold,” the poor devil tries to oblige, “while I transfer you so you can be taken off the other lists.”

My teeth press into my lower lip as I hang on. His presence is replaced by ringing.

“Welcome to the national Do Not Call registry. For English, press ‘1’ now.” I registered there months ago. (It’s 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register, for all the good it may do you.)

By now, I’ve transformed. I haven’t quite developed blue Muppet fur, but my monster teeth bite my lower lip and I hang up.


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