“Hello, this is Bridget. This is an urgent call about your credit card account….”
Perhaps you’ve had the experience at least once in your life of blowing somebody off, sending them packing, ever so gently, but resolutely, with a well-rehearsed sayonara.
The Library of Congress has a whole wing devoted to archiving songs and scenes written about the countless techniques and art of saying goodbye. Bogie melts the runway around Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Arnold blasts away the T1000 in Terminator 2. Simon & Garfunkel raise the ante with “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. The group Train meets that bet with a creative assembly of exits in “50 Ways To Say Goodbye”.
I am happy to reveal #51– “Press 3”.
This is the specific and business-like instruction I received from Bridget, who has been throwing herself at me for an interminable period.
On the phone, poor girl– she was only trying to alert me about my credit card, urgently, mind you, that there was no emergency, but that I should speak with her immediately about my interest rates. She did warn that it was my last chance to get in contact. I could do that by Pressing “1”.
Through years of comprehensive training as a sales professional, I have always practiced the rule after a closing statement, “the first person to speak, loses.” So, I clammed up.
And then Bridget caved: “To no longer receive these calls, press 3.”
Just like that, I pounded the 3 button on our receiver, possibly pushing it so far up the line it would pop in Bridget’s ear somewhere in a basement call center in Atlanta.
In my mind’s eye, I saw her wince, blown out of her chair, frantically tearing off the headphone and ear piece. Supervisors run over to pick her up, gaping at the smoking embers of telecommunications technology as it burns a hole in the carpet.
In the conning tower at the back of the darkened telemarketing center, controllers stare at their screens as the disconnect hits. Lights dim only for an instant before the backup generators kick in. Everyone is calm on the mezzanine level. Down below, hundreds of units continue their work in the dimly lit, air-conditioned office cavern, oblivious.
Controller: (Bbrzztchzt) “Ray? Unit 56 got a 3, Ray. Can you fix it?”
Ray: “Got it, C. Looking it over now. We’ll be up in a jif.”
Controller: (Bbrrxwxschh) “Tell me what you find. We have a pool running up here.”
Ray: “C, looks like 56 needs a trip to the shop. It’s got a fingerprint etched right into its diagnostic display.”
Controller: (Bbrrtyffszt) “Hah! ‘Like I figured. That totals 235 today, my magic number. It’s pay-up time everybody!”
Ray: “C, you want I should shut this booth down?”
Controller: (Bbrssttadx) “No way. Let’s double down, Ray. Plug in 37, and boot her up.”
Ray: “Got it. I am powering it up now.”
The vast room’s gentle murmur resumes among the darkened honeycombs as Ray extinguishes his flashlight and follows the maze of hallways back to the control tower.
Unit 37 digs in for the night.
“Hello, this is Carmen. This is an urgent call about your credit card account….”