Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bill Collectors and Tuesdays....

Now there's a job that I would love to stand in line for, an automated call center pumping out deadbeats like myself, to call and dun me for a $38.00 medical bill that was supposed to go through insurance, but for some reason never did. I know, that someday, that $38.00 bill is going to come back and haunt me, and I am pretty sure that I will be required to write a check, and make "Ted" happy, and they will stop calling me. I have actually made it a pretty entertaining event when they call. I mean, you actually should ask how their day is going, and if they have plans for the holidays, I do everything possible to keep them on the phone as long as possible, inevitably just to let them down at the end of the call. Kind of like a tease at a nightclub - get them all hot and bothered, then tell them I have a terminal disease, and that they should call the doctor that treated me incorrectly to get the $38.00. Some of you might say that it is horrible - but really, I have counted no less than 114 calls from these folks about $38.00. How many people must they be calling to actually make money on $38.00? I have come up with a myriad of excuses when they call...and typically you know when they call because they use those funky masked numbers that mysteriously have my area code on it, but it changes every single time...

It got a little boring to tell them I was dead, so I came up with more creative ways, let me list a few to the typical question that comes up (Mr. Bennett when do you think you will be able to help yourself by paying this bill, we can take a payment right now over the phone....)

1. "Well, you see, every since I fell off the truck and got my balance all discombobulated, I cannot seem to remember things real good. I got the money and all, and I could pay it, but I cannot find my wallet. Can you hang on for a minute and I will go get my wallet?" (Then put the phone on speaker, mute it, and set it next to you and see how long it takes for them to hang up).

2. Graduating from the "He died" - I have moved on to other things. Just last week, I told them I was in mourning over the death of the greatest musician that ever lived, and was holding vigil until the Jackson 4 did a come back tour with a remake. They did mention that they would have to put a mark on my credit report, I told them to make sure that it was due to religious reasons.

3. Talking about odd medical conditions always seems to occupy a little bit of my time - I have gone so far to explain to them that a hotel ice maker can rip off a testicle if you use it incorrectly. (I know that makes no fucking sense, but for $38.00 where else can you get that kind of response).

4. I pick up the phone book, go the lawyer section, and refer them to a counselor. Note, I do not say my counselor, I say a counselor. I don't mention bankruptcy, I don't mention lawsuit, I tell them that they should talk to a lawyer. I am about one.eighth of the way through the A's. Sorry to all of the receptionists and paralegals out there who may have gotten random phone calls.

5. One of my favorites is still the repeat every word they say, but just in a different way - so they say "Can I speak with G Bennett" - I reply with "Hmmm, can you speak with G Bennett" - their reply "Is this G Bennett" - my reply - "IS THIS G Bennett" - you do that for about three minutes, they get sick of the call, and they just hang up.

6. The Pay by the minute phone - this is a pretty good one - ask for a credit on your bill so that you can afford to add more minutes to your phone, because if your wife sees that you used up all of your minutes you are going to have to go back to counseling because the last time you did that you were screwing the neighbor lady. (Notice the lack of punctuation in that sentence, you actually have to say that sentence without punctuation, in a very tense and nervous way).

7. Start saying "I dispute you". Say it several times. It does not stop them from calling, but the response you typically get is pretty interestng - all the way from, "We can send you a record of service" (I dispute you) to "Our records indicate that you were seen on XX/XX/XXXX" (I dispute you) - I have had a collections caller on the phone for seventeen minutes disputing him to the point the actual word started to make no sense to me.

8. Alot of folks have old credit cards laying around, and since I have closed several accounts, I like to run the bill collectors through about six different card numbers that have not existed since 1998. They give up after usually three different numbers, but I actually was able to get one guy to run each account - twice. Now that may sound like a waste of time to you, but to me, it beats the shit out of watching the real housewives of whatever town bitch at each other.

9. Tell them you are broke. Tell them that you got turned down for food stamps, you are eating scraps out of the dumpster behind the grocery store, but you refuse to declare bankruptcy, and when you find enough pennies in the gas station parking lot, and then enough postage to mail them, that you are going to send the payment. I have only tried this once, and the poor girl actually made me feel bad for making her feel so bad.

10. Finally, use words like the convexity theory and time value of money and discounted cash flows - and then end it with, "I am going to beat that bitch again. I told them to take care of this shit and here I am having to take care of it. You hire domestic help who can barely speak a lick of fucking english, you pay them cash to make a few phone calls, and this is the bullshit you get. They are fired. I mean fired. I will make sure they will work for no one else at the club again. Worthless piece of shit. Let me see if I can get them to call you back." Entertainment.

So, you ask, why not just pay the $38.00. Because. It is a mistake. I could pay the $38.00 but then I would have to go to the movies and spend $60.00 to laugh. I take my credit rating about as seriously as I take my physical fitness - in other words, every once in a while, I am really really good for a week or so, and try to keep up with everything and make sure everything is paid off - and occassionally I worry about, but much like that gym membership, that usually lasts for about six months, and I worry about other things - (and in both cases, it is usually eating).

Now some women find forty year old men who are irresponsible terribly unattractive - but what's not to love - I have two homes, a car, a job, and occassionally, have a little bit of cash that I use to pay back the folks I have borrowed money from. I have a $2,400 per month child support payment, but that does not stop me from having generic pop tarts in the pantry, or splurging on good beer every once in a while - really, at this point in my life, I am pretty much worth more dead than I am alive, and of course, no one wants to die, but hell, when you look at what the insurance company did pay for the service, and then look at what they are calling you about - it almost seems a wee bit ridiculous. I am sure, that sometime today, I will get another call, and I am sure that they are going to describe the dire consequences I will suffer, and I am sure that I am the reason that the US economy sucks ass (I did pay more taxes than Boeing last year, and probably this year as well) - but $38.00?

That's a Tuesday type of conversation - sitting down, looking at the list of bills, realizing I need to pack, clean the house, take three conference calls, go to the doctor to have a finger shoved up my ass, and breaking the routine with a $38.00 collections call.

Tuesday. All day.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Left Turns...

The plane is slowing down somewhere over Kansas - that must mean that somewhere about 37,000 feet in the middle of nowhere, there are a few cows undisturbed in their feedlots, a few farmers emptying out their dryers from the summer, and the last of the rainstorms coming through before it gets cold enough to make popsicles on the farm house porch - when you look out the window this far up at those isolated places (yes, I hate to admit this, but most of Kansas is isolated) - it gets fun to wonder what part of American Gothic is taking place - whether Grandpa is using the pitchfork and the daughter is just wondering when she can get the fuck out of Kansas. I am sure that still happens more often than not - instead now, it is American MethLab, and Grandpa is hopped up on Budweiser and drugs from the VA, and the daughter is wondering when Billy is going to fix the truck so they can drive into KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) and get away from the corn rows...not quite the same place - unless of course you are the Duggar family - they seem to have preserved some simplicity in their lives, hell, they even have a blog - their blog offers very little consolation to me, but apparently, based on the comments - there sure are a gaggle of folks who want to know how much they make for parading their clean cut army around television handling chores such as cleaning out the RV shitter, or watching the boys enter into courtship...(what the hell is courtship anyway - it seems a bit midevil to me, but I suppose if that is the rules in the Duggar family, then those are the rules that you follow...)

I did learn this week that the best way for me to not think in a sexual manner is to think of the Duggar family. I don't think it has anything to do with the number of kids - I know at least two folks who have learned how to use birth control, and I don't think it has anything to do with being chaste or pure or even clean for my partner, because I know that I can buy soap, and if I feel really dirty, find a counselor or self help group that will smoke lodge my ass into blissful ignorance and meditation. (I think they call that self-actualization - sort of the Stumbling on Happiness book direction of how to make things better without making things worse even though our brains are designed to create enough distance between the bad things)...I am guessing the worst things you can do at the Duggar house consist of lying, sleeping through church, saying God without saying a prayer or Amen after it - you know the stuff that gets folks throwed into purgatory and shit....

Anyway - try it sometime, when you find yourself completely turned on by some internet smut - think of the Duggars. That will totally work. If it does, let me know, I am sure I can find a way to bill your insurance for curing your sickness and debauchery. If the thought of them actually gets you off - then please, don't read my blog anymore, I don't think I want to be connected to your sick sick mind.

Left turns - that's what life is a series of (no segue just straight into it) - I was given some advice by some guy I was probably gambling with, or drinking with, or whatever - and he pretty much said - "People, they are good at adapting - they are not good at changing. In fact, most of the time, they just don't change, they just get used to dealing with the new bullshit, and eventually forget about the old bullshit." - Now I am sure that this is not going to make it into the annals of behavioral psychology or team dynamics or sociological interactions of adult workers - but I am pretty sure, that once you get to the bottom of most of the Harvard Business Review Articles and those wonderful networking articles that McKinsey pumps out, that somewhere - this is going to be pretty much the bottom line. Why do I think large ERP systems and mega-mainframes and databases work? I think they work because they completely ignore that people actually give a shit about the weather - and tell you to fill in the blanks. Then, when enough folks are taught how to fill in the blanks in an 80% correct manner, someone in the "data warehouse", goes out and runs a bunch of queries and voila! They have the information on how the business is behaving - not how the organization is behaving, reacting, working. There is no real feedback on where the organization is going - (I would like to visit the data warehouse - and no, I am not that stupid, but if I ever open a bar, I am going to call it the Data Warehouse, just so all of the burned out linear thinking IT programmers have a place to drink large quantities of strong drink...)

You see right now, I am a policy writer. Just a guy who is taking an existing policy, and putting it into another policy and determining what procedures need to be taken out of a policy and moved to a procedure and then flowcharted to make sure that we have pictures so everyone can understand the decision tree and how things are supposed to go. I forgot how to wipe my ass until I looked at the flowchart on the back of the Charmin wrapper - and thank god for that, otherwise I would have choked on the cardboard roll in the center trying to get the freshest paper out of the middle of the roll. So that is my angst about left turns. Everything in life is pretty much a bigger and bigger left turn. Let me go a little further with that, and maybe, it will all start to make sense...

Go stand outside a playground, and watch the little kids spin themselves around in circle after cirle - those tight left turns and spinning until they get dizzy...then go to an amusement park, and watch the ten year olds on the carousel, larger left turns, but left turns none the less, bigger left turns, as you get older - watching the kids run track, then the left turns get larger as you sit on the outer loop stuck in traffic...slower, bigger left turns, but left turns...

So you start the spiral as a kid - tight fast left turns, then as you get a little older the left turns get a little wider...then you end up where you are - a series of larger and larger left turns - granted they do move slower when you start talking about making good money and having a career and having a family - but really - draw a straight line back to the center, and pretty much, you have not changed all too much - you are just alot of years away, have made several spirals outward - and continue to make left turns. I don't know why I am fascinated by that right now - maybe it is the economy, maybe it is the circular nature of having to deal with policy, maybe it is the reality that the farther we get away from a point, the closer we really are - no one really heads straight anywhere - we all get caught up in the dizziness of the left turns - and then, occassionally, we do get the chance to drink half a bottle of eighteen year old scotch, and either slow the spinning down enough to watch the rest of the world spin around us - or we just keep walking in left turns.

I know that is batshit crazy. But hell, I just figure it gave me something to write about for a few hours - other than policy and procedure. My new policy and procedure - keep turning left.