Commentary: Beware of that familar voice on the phone


I’m pretty sure her last name is Scammer.

And I know how to say her first name.

But I never mailed a note of concern because I don’t know the spelling. And there’s nothing worse than a card of emotional support that arrives in the mail with your first name misspelled.

Because she could be Staci or Stacy.


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In this era of creative spelling, there are other choices: Stacie, Staysee or StayC - the last with or without a hyphen.

It might even be Stay Sea, a name given to her by a mother who saw the ocean out of the birthing suite and took it as a sign that her daughter should always live by the water. In this instance, Stay Sea would have a brother named Dude.

The bottom line is that I never mailed the card.

I should have because for a while, Staci called me a couple of times a week, always on the land line.

In a business-like tone with just a touch of urgency she told me she was from dealer processing and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on the chance to extend my warranty.

I politely declined.

But being the sincere person that she is, Staci continued to call, always with the same message and cheery tone. And despite the growing sense of rejection she must have felt, when the time arrived, she went the extra mile to let me know the invitation had become a final offer.

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It seemed strange to me that the final offer continued over the course of a year. Still, I appreciated the courtesy, and when Staci stopped calling, I began to wonder if something had happened to her. Maybe an illness or a death in the family. I don’t know. I only knew her voice had gone silent with no clue as to the reason and that I was lagging behind in my exercise because I didn’t have to go to the phone as many times a day.

It’s then I should have sent her a note in care of Ms. Scammer and to the attention of the dealer processing department of Robocalls, Unlimited, where the company motto is “We take our last name seriously.”

So, when she called the other day, it seemed awkward. Kind of like running into someone at the grocery I should have mailed a card to. But it all turned out fine.

There was reason to celebrate. Her voice was just the same, apparently untouched by illness or personal tragedy. And as it turned out - who would have thunk it? — the final offer to the extend my warranty was still available. Imagine the odds of that.

I did not extend the warranty. But I was glad to hear from Staci - as I’m glad to hear from all the others.

One of them - a relative of Staci’s, for all I know - let me know that I should call immediately about my charge card. No, there was nothing wrong with it. But if I didn’t call soon, I’d miss out on a chance to reduce the interest rate.

Others had called as well. And these were people I felt closer to even than Staci because my caller ID told me they calling from homes in my own community. And anyone who let someone into their home to make a phone call to me obviously has good intentions.

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It seems odd that when I ask to speak to the person on the caller ID, they can never come to the phone. But I guess people are renting their houses out to others while on vacation these days. And everyone’s so busy.

Why the other day, I even got a call from someone speaking a foreign language - Japanese or Chinese - and who continued speaking even though I couldn’t understand a word he said.

But I’m glad he called.

Because my relationship with the ladies inside the automatic checkout lines at stores is getting worse and worse.

The videos they take of me now - like the ones they take of thieves — plainly show I’ve placed items in the bagging area. Still, the ladies keep asking me to do the same thing.

“Please place the item in the bagging area.”

True, they say please, but after scanning four jugs of distilled water and getting nagged each time, the politeness seems to vanish, which happens in time for them to say:

“Please remove the item from the bagging area.”

And there’s no talking back. Because if you do, they bring out what they all the “nuclear option” these days: “Attendant has been notified.”

As far as that go, the attendants are nice.

Still, I’m thinking it may be time for me to start shopping from home.

It will be less trouble - plus I won’t have to miss any of my calls.