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The soundtrack to hell has exactly four notes

Today, in a rash of strange behavior that benefits our credit rating, I decided to try to pay Esteban’s credit card over the phone, where it would get there on time and not be hampered by anthrax, small pox, or premenstrual syndrome.

Big mistake.

I went to their web page to get the phone number and called them. It was 8:30 in the morning.

Their automated phone menu immediately asked for the account number.

They say that in all successful stories, and some not so successful ones as well, there is one point, one crucial point where a mistake has been made by the protagonist and everything from that point forward is inevitable. For instance, in Clerks, the mistake is made early: Dante wasn’t supposed to work that day and he agreed to. Sometimes the mistake happens before the story even starts: for instance, it could be argued that Jay Gatsby should have forgotten Daisy Buchanan when he found that she was married, years before he ever met Nick Carraway, but then we’d have never gotten that fabulous ending paragraph about the green light and the orgiastic future which year by year recedes before us. To quote Fitzgerald even more, when the mistake has been made we become ‘boats against the current, ever borne ceaselessly into the past.’

In the work of pretentious fiction that is my life, I think that my tragic mistake today is that I did not have Esteban’s account number. Thus, I immediately got sent to a purgatory queue for all callers who don’t have their account number. There, I was subjected to Muzak which can only be described as ‘The Song with Four Notes’.

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We’re sorry. Your call is important to us. Calls will be answered in the order in which they are received.’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We’re sorry. Your call is important to us. Calls will be answered in the order in which they are received.’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We’re sorry. Your call is important to us. Calls will be answered in the order in which they are received.’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We’re sorry. Your call is important to us, but we’re answering the calls of people who know their account number first.’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We’re sorry. You should really have been prepared to call us and been ready to give us your account number. Think about that long and hard while you wait. Maybe next time, you’ll be a better customer.’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

‘We could really give a shit that you’re waiting this long. Eventually, a very bored and underpaid employee will take your call when their hand cramps from playing Windows Solitaire’

Doo Duh Dee Dum Dee Doo Dum

That music is what evil sounds like.

Finally, a sluggish voice answers, ‘Hello, my name is Val, may I have your account number please?’

‘I don’t have it’. It’s my husband’s account.’

(sigh)Do you have his social security number?’

‘No, I’m sorry, I don’t.’

‘Phone number?’

I gave her my phone number. She screwed it up three times, making me repeat it.

‘Name on the account?’

‘Esteban.’

‘Hold pleas&AO8AvwC9AO8AvwC9-

Then more music. Luckily for me, this Muzak had more notes, or I would have quite possibly stabbed a pair of scissors into my ear to make it stop.

And more music.

Finally, a new voice. ‘Hello, this is Whitney, account please?’

‘I don’t have it.’

‘Social Security number?’

‘Sorry, I don’t have that either.’

(sigh) ‘Phone number.’

I gave it to her twice as she screwed it up too. Then I asked, ‘May I ask you something? Why did the first person, Val, bother to ask me all of these questions? I mean, it’s exactly the same questions!’

‘Um, I don’t know. Name on the account.’

‘Esteban. I mean, it’s not very customer focused, you know? I’m not trying to be a mean customer or anything, it’s just a suggestion that maybe you should not ask questions that obviously weren’t for any purpose.’

‘Um, yeah, you’re name isn’t on this account. I can’t give you any account info or nothing.’

‘I can make a payment on his account.’ I said, daring her to argue with me.

‘Um, well, yeah, but I can’t tell you what the balance is or the minimum payment or nothing.’

‘How about $75? Can you tell me if $75 is enough?’ I asked, knowing that the balance was roughly $150 but getting pissed off.

‘Um, yeah, that will be fine.’

At that point, I should have started scream/singing the four note song at her.


I have Tupperw@re lady hair today. There’s nothing more I can say after that.

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