I had an argument with a cellphone today.
More accurately, I had an argument with a lady via my cellphone. I’ve tried shouting at my phone before. It doesn’t make much difference.
The lady in question worked for some organization to which I owe money . Having only recently found some semblance of the idea of financial security, I was finally repaying some debts. This was quite a nerve-wracking experience.
As I’ve explained before, money makes me twitchy. I decided to try a new tactic for dealing with it: Acting.
Scene one: The minion answers and takes my details, opening my account.
“Thank you sir, I see you owe -” Ha. Not so fast minion…the best line of defense is attack, so:
“$82 and 68 cents, which I have here in my account and I’d like to pay but first I’d like to talk to you about your actions over the last two weeks.” See, I’m taking control! I’m in charge! Silly minion.
“Sure Sir, but I’d like to say you owe $92.68 when you include the interest.” Excuse me? Liar. That’s not going to work.
“No, I owe $82.68 and you’re charging $10 for sending a letter.” $10. For a fucking letter. I’ll send you nine letters and include a free one if you’re not careful. My words are mightier than yours.
“Yes Gareth, that’s company policy.” What a hideous byword for “not my problem”, minion.
“I don’t care. I’m not paying it. I spoke to you last week and blah blah blah…”
At this point, the acting became pure anger (scene two) and my voice went all whiny and high. I figured this was good. I used a tactic I’m hopeless against and began talking in circles, repeating myself and adding in new and impressive points. It works wonderfully. She became quite flustered.
“Now look Gareth! Let me say this, please stop talking, You’re not listening.” Obviously, when do people in charge ever listen?
“Speak, I shall listen.” The fuck? I swear she snorted when I said that. Less acting, perhaps.
“Uh, you’re saying you can pay the $82 today and I thank you for that, but I’m telling you that your account will still be overdue by $10.” Ha. That’s where you’re wrong! Logic and derision ensue
“Is that all? You’ve said that three times and I definitely heard you the first time. To repeat myself: If that’s the case, then I won’t be paying you. I have saved up this money specifically to pay you rather than some of my other debts, and if you’re going to try take more money off me than I’d rather pay them. I’ve never missed a payment to you, I’ve had a bad few months and I’m sure you can waive the fee.” Hmm…is it too late to appeal to the minion’s nice side? A surprise attack?
“No Sir, I can’t waive it and your account will still be -” What nice side? there’s no weakness here.
“Then put me on to someone higher.” Right. I can’t beat the minion, so let’s go for the boss: in real life, the bosses are easier to beat than the minions…right?
“Please hold.” Is that the sound of success?
I was very uptight by this point, but oddly excited. This was almost…fun…Scene 3:
“Hello Gareth, my name is [Anna]!” Well fuck. Aren’t you friendly. I guess that means….
“Hello [Anna] I’m Ga…ah, you already know that. Do you have my account details?” I have to be friendly too. It’s unsettling. I’m on the back-foot.
“Yes.” Ok. Uhm. Guess I have to talk now
“Cool, well, this is my situation blah blah blah bla-“ My summary is surprisingly succinct and polite – a careful attack.
“Gareth, I don’t want to waste your time or mine…” Oh fuck. That didn’t go so well. Putmebackontotheminionpleasepleasepleaseple…
“…so I’m going to waive the fee for the letter.” asepleaspleaseplea….what? She….what? Yay!
“Thank you Anna. That is wonderful of you.”
We talk – pleasantries and genuine conversation with someone super friendly. We complain about IT. I ask her to apologize to the minion because I felt bad. I hang up, $82.68 poorer and infinitely happier.
The first step really is the hardest.