Readers of Notations know that I've been out of work for over a year. That I have no unemployment benefits. That I have bills to pay. Unfortunately, bill collectors only care about that last one - bills to pay. They don't care that I don't have the money to satisfy them. That might be because if not for me and others like me, they'd be out of work too. I'm being kind. I don't care a whit about them at all. They are the Darth Vader, the Cruella De Vil, the Hannibal Lechter in my life right now.
The phone in my apartment rings almost constantly. Funny thing is that I've discovered the cycle I'm on with most of the collectors. I can usually tell by the time of day which collector is about to leave a message of urgency for me. They start early, around 8 a.m., and end late at approximately 9 p.m., which is fine by me. At least I'm not being awakened from my money woe nightmares to hear someone telling me about them.
I don't answer these intrusive phone calls. It is sad enough to hear the messages, even more depressing to speak to these people and tell them all about how I don't have any money to pay them with.
A couple of years ago, well before I got laid off, I bought a new phone for my home. My old one had died. I'd gotten so used to the phone I'd used for upwards of ten years that it took forever for me to choose a replacement. While shopping, I quickly learned that phones have changed quite a bit in ten years. Well, of course I could have guessed that, but it was still a shock to see the upgraded phones in person.
I finally, after shopping at several stores and driving the sales people to reconsider their career choice with all my questions, settled on a pretty (yes, appearance counts) Panasonic model. In the store, my eyes glazed at all the things it said it could do on the box. When I got home, I read enough of the directions to get the thing charged up and working then stored away the frighteningly thick manual.
Back to the business of all these unwelcome phone calls. When the onslaught of these calls started, a little niggling thought began to tickle at the back of my brain. It was enough of a nuisance to get me up and searching for that long ago filed away phone instruction booklet. Upon finding it, I thumbed through the pages and to my utter delight found step by step instructions for blocking callers. Oh happy day! Immediately, I set to work. In the next twenty minutes I'd stored a whole bunch of phone numbers that I never wanted to hear from again.
The next day my phone didn't ring any less, but my answering machine light never once blinked an obnoxious red like some Terminator relentlessly seeking me out. I learned that my now not-so-new phone blocks the calls but rings once to let me know that it’s doing its job. Weird, but I can live with that. So I get the one ring and if I deign to look at the screen on the receiver, I'll see two of the most beautiful words ever invented: Caller Blocked.
Today I smile when the phone rings and imagine the growing rage and frustration of the call center bill collectors. I can just picture them in their seedy little cubes, a computer screen of names and phone numbers in front of them, their fingers slamming on the keyboard as they are again unable to get through to me. I wonder if they are paid on commission? Oh, that would be sweet. From my misery they should make no money.
Once in awhile a message slips through. My quick response is to grab up the receiver like a sword or mighty pen and add this new and devious caller to the blocked list. Ha! I admit that it is not an easy battle. These collectors are tricky little creatures. Some of them catch on to when one particular number is not getting through and start calling on another line. Ha! I say. Try me! I'll block you all!!!
The other day, much to my dismay, I hit the limit of callers I can block. What?!?! Twenty, only twenty. Oh no. But fear not, I won't be discouraged that easily. Many of the numbers I'd originally blocked were now old, so I deleted the lot of them and started over. Muuuahahahahaha!
I'll not be thwarted. Oh my precious Caller Blocked, bless you.