Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mean Ole Grace

Although I've tried to convey a portrait of myself as a sweet, kind middle-aged spendthrift trying hard to reform, there's another darker side to Grace.

It all started with my second daughter.

As I explained in an earlier post, I have a 31 year old emotionally disturbed child. She has never been employed for longer than two weeks, and receives SSI. She does live on her own and has since she turned 18.

Now why any creditor in his or her right mind would give this child a credit card boggles the mind. But they have. Over and over.

Credit card companies send solicitations. My daughter responds. Voila! She has a card which she then uses to the max. What she doesn't do is pay the bills. Ever.

Because she moves a lot and switches phone numbers a lot, she has a tendency to give my telephone number as her contact number. The end result is a number of telephone calls to my landline from various debt collectors.

In the beginning, it was annoying. Debt collectors start calling right after 8:00 a.m. and call into the evening. They are particularly fond of the dinner hours.

But then my youngest daughter started having some fun with it, and dang, if I didn't join her.

At first, if the collector asked for my errant adult daughter, we'd say "Just a moment," put the phone down and walk away.

Then, my youngest child got good at a plausible but totally made up foreign language where she appeared to be giving the caller another number to reach their quarry. "Vey, Vey, Vey,..." "Is that three, three, three?" "Nikto! Vey, Vey, Vey. . ." "Um, do you mean two, two, two?" "Nikto! Vey, Vey, Vey. . ."

My specialty is the phony mechanical voice. A large number of calls begin with a pre-recorded message: "Please stay on the line for an important call." So I wait, and when a human being finally picks up, I say, in my best disembodied voice: "Please stay on the line for an important call." I repeat this a couple of times, and then start singing "Memories." Badly.

That led one collector to start laughing. Since then, our goal has been to make all the collectors laugh. Most don't--they just sound confused and then they hang up. Although one said to someone else apparently in the next cubicle, "Come listen to this--it's the weirdest thing!"

My daughter's new favorite is to pretend she's looking for the debtor as well, because the debtor stole her boyfriend. She gets very aggressive, demanding that the caller tell her any addresses or phone number the caller might have for "that slut." The last time she tried it, the caller patiently told her for the Nth time that she couldn't give out the address, and that this was the only number they had. But then ended the conversation with "Honey, you can find yourself a better guy than that. Just let it go."

My daughter thinks we'd have even more fun if I'd let her swear. But I told her that wasn't fair to the minimum wage employees sitting in a cubicle making call after futile call. I suppose our jokes aren't fair either, but by this time, I figure they deserve it. We tried telling them my older child wasn't at this number, but because I was unwilling to give them a better number, they never stop calling.

And this middle aged lady has to get her kicks wherever she can find them!


Anonymous said...

You and your daughter sure are creative. I love these! I always feel sorry for the workers, but at least you are amusing them.

Louise said...

Grace you might enjoy this site:
it has lots of different sounds and recordings that you can use when you want to get off the phone. Enjoy!

mariam said...

Heh, your post cracked me up. Maybe I should try that the next time a telemarketer calls. I feel so bad for being rude and cutting them off so I let them say their spiel. In reality, I'm just wasting their time and mine. Next time, I'm going to belt out something too.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

that sounds like SO much fun!

Anonymous said...

Two responses to your post: (1) I'm sorry that your daughter is in a bad way; I feel bad for her the most, but you and her sister, too; (2) I'm pissed that she's on disability (i.e., getting a check from me and every other taxpayer) at the age of 31 without, per you, really ever having a job. Some of the poor saps working the phones that you play with are probably doing that to have the money to take care of family issues similar to yours. I doubt they like their jobs; I trust they need those jobs.

The problem here is that your daughter lies to creditors about where she lives. The money lent to her came from somewhere and someone. And that money probably meant as much to them as it would to you. That is, dodging debts is not a victimless crime.

Grace. said...

Anonymous, you and I are not in that much disagreement. But my daughter is truly disabled and unable to work--she came by her disabilities the hard way: She was physically and sexually abused, neglected, left on her own at 3 years old, went through 33 foster homes and a residential treatment center and a failed adoption, all prior to age 11 when I adopted her. Some days, I think it's a miracle she can still walk and talk, much less work.

I would feel sorrier for the credit card companies if they had been less idiotic in the first place--why on earth give this very damaged and low-income woman a credit card?

Finally, you are right about the collectors on the phone. I'm not going to pay them, and I seriously doubt my daughter is. So why not make them laugh in the meantime? I don't curse at them or slam them for the job they have (which I certainly wouldn't want) but maybe they should have believed me when I told them my daughter doesn't live here.

Petunia 100 said...

Oh, this gave me the giggles. You and your youngest daughter have splendid creativity!

I totally understand your initial frustration that collectors continue to call your adult daughter at your number, though you have state clearly that she does not live there. I changed cell phone numbers about 2.5 years ago, and receive calls regularly for the person who previously had the number. For awhile, I was quite patient. Eventually, I found it very annoying because I know that it couldn't really have been dozens and dozens of different collection companies, but rather repeated calls from the same ones. I would specifically ask that they note in the file (phone number) no longer belongs to (name), but still the phone calls persist.