The telephone rings five times before I pick up. A monotone voice on the line says: “This a BT information call. Your Internet has been compromised and will be shut down. Press number one to connect to the team or press the hash key for more information.”
I know it’s a scam call, a voice recording, and so I hold the phone with the line open until the automated call clicks off. Glowing with satisfaction, knowing that I hadn’t fallen for their pathetic scam, I put the telephone down.
The telephone rings again. I wonder if it’s another scam BT call. The caller display screen says International and so I disregard it. I don’t know anybody who would call me from outside of the country. Probably an Indian call centre, I tell myself. Another scam call, another cold call on another cold day.
I glance out of the window. The sky is grey and rain is drizzling down. A takeaway food carton is lying soggy in the middle of the road. The bin men have been and the road looks a mess. Why is everybody so slovenly these days?
I turn away from the phone and head towards the kitchen. It rings again. I turn back and look at the display screen. It’s a British company but I don’t recognise the area code. I pick up. An anonymous caller tells me the company that installed my solar panels has gone bust and they may need a health check. He can arrange a visit. I tell him this is fifth call I’ve had telling me that my solar panel company has gone bust. It’s a lie. I spoke to the company yesterday and they told me to ignore such calls as they are bogus. “We are trading,” the secretary said. “Our order books are full.” The anonymous caller rudely puts the phone down without saying another word.
I can feel the irritation building up inside. I wish I had a button on the phone that when pressed sends an electric shock through the line and fries the equipment on the other end, maybe gives a shockwave of pain to the caller — if it is indeed a human caller and not a robot. Correction: send a bolt of lightning powerful enough to make their hair stand on end. Maybe pop their eyeballs. Fry their tits or balls.
The kettle is on and I am putting a teabag in my cup when the phone rings again. “Fuck me!” Should I answer it? Is it someone I know? A friend perhaps? Maybe it’s a family member. Could be urgent? Guess I’d better answer it. I move from the kitchen to the front room. Once again the call display says “International”. I decide to play them along and pick up. A female speaks. By the sound of it, she is Asian. “This is BT,” she begins. “We have detected a problem with your Internet.”
“A problem with my Internet?” I reply, playing them at their own game. “Is it serious?”
“Yes it is potentially serious.”
“Oh dear,” I say, trying to sound convincingly concerned. “What can I do?”
“Are you near your computer sir?”
“Yes I am.”
“Would you please do as I tell you …”
I then say with a cold and aggressive voice: “You are a liar aren’t you?”
“No sir … I am not a liar. ”
I tell her she is lying and she knows it. “Tell me how many megabits I’m getting then?”
She cannot answer. I tell her there is nothing wrong with my Internet and that she is a despicable fraud. The line suddenly goes dead. I’ve gotten rid of another cold caller but only for today, only for today. Maybe only for the next couple of minutes. The fucking bastards!
I glance out of the window once more. It is raining even harder now. A sheet of paper blows down the road. “Fucking, incompetent bin men …” I pour boiling water onto my teabag, grab a ginger nut biscuit and sit down at the dining room table. I’m about to sip my tea when the phone rings again.
“Fuck this,” I say aloud. Infuriated by these constant interruptions, I stride across the room. Ignoring the caller display screen, I bend down and yank the telephone line from the wall socket. “Goddamn cold callers. My life’s not my own nowadays.”
Then my mobile rings. “Jesus wept!” I check the screen. It’s my daughter. I sweep the green answer graphic.
“Are you at home?” she asks.
“Why didn’t you answer the telephone then?”
I feel as if I should give some sort of apologetic answer but I don’t. With a voice that echoes my agitation, I reply: “I pulled the line from the socket because I’m sick of the constant stream of cold calls.”
“Well that’s a bit stupid. Suppose there’s an emergency?”
“That’s why I’ve got a mobile… Anyway what’s the problem?”
“Nothing. I just wondered what was going on.”
I try not to roll my eyes. I try not to sigh. Calming myself, I make an effort to sound sociable, but I find it so difficult. “Is that it, then?”
“I just wondered if everything was okay, that’s all …”
“Yes, everything’s fine. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay …”
“That’s good,” I reply.
“Okay then, see you later.”
“Yeah, see you soon …” I touch the red phone graphic which ends the call. I can now see why most people have mobiles and not landlines.
I glance out of the window. Rain is still hammering down. A man hurries by with his head down, jacket collar up around his neck. He is smoking. I don’t know him. Looks like a foreigner, maybe Polish. Could be Romanian. He gobs onto the pavement. I’m glad it’s still raining. I move back to the dining room table and sit down.
Such is life in the 21st century of the Anno Domini era. A shit hole of an existence.