Saturday, March 19, 2011

They're Calling Again

These days, I don't answer the phone all that much. It's one of the benefits to moving back into your parents' house. About six months ago, my wife and I decided to move into my parents' house and rent out our apartment in an effort to save enough to get into a house of our own. The original plan, when we bought our condo, was to put the equity earned in the sale of that place into a down payment for a larger house down the road. Seemed like a good idea, until the bottom dropped out of the housing market.

The issue of buying and renting and the market in general can get complicated with terms like foreclosure, short-sale, and upside down morgage. Luckily for me, my father-in-law is a very good real estate agent and he kept us up to speed on any and all issues concerning our efforts to land our "starter" house. He presented us with both sides of the issues, the proverbial pros and cons, and gave us all the data we would need to make as educated a decision as possible. After months of consideration, we elected to move out of our family's first home, and try to procure as much as we could by renting the property.

I've always been blessed, and thank God every day for my family. They've always supported me in all my efforts, from playing sports growing up, struggling through college, and aspiring to be a writer, to raising my own family. After settling back into my parents' home, and finally getting our place rented (despite the tryannical efforts of the ironfisted Association From Hell), we've drafted a new plan. Our hope is to land our starter house at some point early in 2012, and be all settled in just in time for the Mayan Doomsday.

As I said when I started the post, I don't answer the phone much anymore. Before we moved from our place, the flood of phone calls from Bill Collectors, Telemarketers, and Campaign Advertisers was such that the mere sound of the phone ringing was a shrill, damnable sound that roused nothing but ire and resentment. See, those collectors weren't after us. They were after any number of other people, and the callers (when it was actually a human being on the otherside of the line) had a hard time believing their prey did not live at our number.

For months we explained to the Collectors that the people they were looking for did not live with us, and if they could please be so kind as to remove our number from their list. That would work for about a day. Then, sure enough, the phone would ring in search of the same small group of people who all seemed to have shared our phone number at one point in time. After our repeatedly futile attempts bore no fruit, we elected to cancel our home phone service. Best decision we could've made.

Below, you'll find a poem I drafted while in the midst of the Biblical rain of Collectors' calls. The poem was written in an effort to mimic the style of Billy Collins, though it obviously doesn't get anywhere near his mastery of imagery and language. I hope you enjoy.

They’re Calling Again
The phone rings.
They’re calling again.
            Telemarketers and Automated Bill Collectors.
Looking for Ernesto Vargas or Maria Hernandez, or some other defaulted borrower who isn’t
Me.
I’d love to tell them they had the wrong number,
But that’s not a push-button option.

They’re calling again.
For Ernesto.
I rip the base from the wall because,
            As I answered the phone hoping to berate some lonely operator,
            My coffee cooled too much.
Not an undrinkable cool,
            But now I can’t just sip and enjoy
            While I consider 20 Across and 13 Down.

They’re calling again.
They’ve misplaced Mr. Vargas
And he’s charged a 30-foot inflatable Iceberg for his pool.
My calm wrecks against iceberg.
Reason and Rationality race for the lifeboats.
The band plays on.
            A song by Rage Against the Machine.
I need to tell them they have the wrong number,
But apparently,
If I stay on the line,
I’m acknowledging that I’m now Mr. Vargas, or Mrs. Hernandez,
And the interest on my soul is past due.

They’re calling again.
This is torture, Hades, 2.0.
No longer is Sisyphus pushing his bolder up the hill.
            Now, he pushes Timeshares in Orlando, but no one’s buying.
Even Tantalus can get a sip,
            But with his headset on, he takes his water with whiskey
            Because the sales quota will never be met.
The Furies screech from cubicles,
            Twirling phone cords and gnashing bubblegum
            Through nicotine-stained teeth.

They’re calling again.
Maybe I am Ernesto, or Maria,
Nevermind.
I’ll cancel my service.

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