Un-smooth Operator

One of the pluses of having a wife with a traditionally male name is that when salespeople and scammers call, they always ask for Mr. Michael ________. Now, not everyone is aware that my wife is a woman, so I have to feel them out. First, I ask, “Who’s calling, please?” Most people are cool with that; it’s a very basic and polite question, and anyway you should always identify yourself when calling someone you don’t know. If they turn out to be the dentist or credit card company or whatever, I hand it off to her. If not, it usually takes a few more questions before I figure out they’re a bunco artist.

Every couple of weeks though, we get a call from a person who I’m convinced is the same guy each time. Once upon a time, we donated to a charity. Since then we get periodic calls looking for handouts. We’re not chumps, so when someone is up-front and tells us they want dough, we say no, we don’t do such things by phone, thanks, bye. This guy, however, is crafty. Or rather, he thinks he’s crafty.

I Star-69’ed him once, so I have an idea about where he lives, and when I looked up his number online I discovered, unsurprisingly, that this is his routine. Just calling folks from a list, presumably, telling them he’s with the cops, fire department, vets, or whatever. What’s obvious is that whatever list he’s using, he’s not making notes that the well has gone dry here. Result: he keeps calling every few weeks. Our longest conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Yeah, hello. I’d like to speak to Mr. Michael _________.

Me: Who’s calling, please?

Him: Is this Michael?

Me: Why not tell me who’s calling first?

Him: Can I speak to him?

Me: Who’s this, please?

Him: (Audible sigh. Really, he lets out a huge huff of air, because I’m inconveniencing him, I suppose.) This is Scott Smith (or some similar nondescript name). Can I speak with Michael?

Me: What’s this in regards to?

Him: (Pause) Is Ms. Michael ________ there? (Oooh, good work, Holmes. But you tipped your hand.)

Me: How about telling me who you are?

Him: I just identified myself, sir.

(I almost laughed out loud at his righteous indignation.)

Me: No, you didn’t. You haven’t told me what this is in regards to, and I don’t know who you are.

Him: I said this was Scott Smith.

(While  knew a Scott Smith in grade school, we barely spoke in those eight years, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him.)

Me: Okay, what do you want?

Him: (Frazzled) This is a call intended for Michael __________, so can I talk to Michael?

Me: Nope. Sorry.

Then I hung up.

So, he called again tonight.

Me: Hello?

Him: Hello, can I speak to Michael __________?

Me: Who’s calling, please? (I never change my script, really. Also, I rarely answer the phone. I don’t like phones.)

(Then he lets out an even bigger puff of exasperated breath. He remembers me! Awwww!)

Him: This is the Vets. (Veterans or veterinarians, he didn’t say.)

Me: Nope, sorry.

And I hung up. Didn’t feel like playing this time around. Next time he gets the long hold.

Author: Mr. Dan Kelly

Chicago writer interested in many things.