“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”–Bruce Lee
Often times I wonder if I’m burning the candle at both ends.
Then, I stop and think, are you enjoying it all?
That’s what matters… do no harm, and try to live a life worth remembering.
Luckily, the YouTube channel I monitor is transitioning to a different platform (that dog gone censorship conundrum), and my responsibilities will eventually slow down to the point where my services will no longer be needed.
I’m OK with that.
If nothing else, I can chalk up that brief experience to ongoing life lessons. I definitely “got something” out of it, and I’ll do my best with that information which I learned along the way.
Coincidentally, I found something else to replace the YouTube gig. Something just as fun and only takes a few hours a week.
But before I get into that, first I need to take a moment to thank the new subscribers. Like I try and say to all the others who have joined me along my journey, you are the best. I appreciate each and every one of you.
Today, I need to introduce you to my friend Shirley D.
I won’t speak her last name. “D” will suffice. Her anonymity is important to me.
A brief history: I’ve become accustomed to having a variety of voices rattling around upstairs; contained and trapped inside my melon.
High Intendant Liberty Bell has a voice which screams to (and at) me… each and every day.
The only way to shut her and alllllll her friends, and enemies up, is to write. Get their voices on paper.
It’s the only way to find true peace.
Having those nagging, pushy, irritations barking orders all day long, becomes a nuisance.
As a result of their insistence, I make every attempt to do something about it. They speak, I listen, and take action.
One morning over a year ago, I was introduced to Shirley D.
Elderly, sweet, sweet woman. She might be on the cusp of a little dementia. She forgets things, likes to interrupt, constantly, and talk about her childhood, and grandson. She has a three-wheeled motorized carriage she uses to get around; with a basket in between the handle bars, and she lovingly calls it her “put-put.” She rides it to get the mail and scoot down to the nearby park to drive along the paved walking trails.
Her husband, Elmer (God rest his soul) helped build her a wheelchair ramp. A widow-maker heart attack stole his life while mowing the lawn one summer afternoon.
But, Shirley is a survivor. She’s done just fine for herself since his passing. Her grandson helps with the chores, yardwork and local errands. She has a close friend across the street and they sip tea together a few times a week… She has three cats named Merlin, Cleo and Scott.
I can go on and on about Shirley.
She exists purely in my imagination. She is a character I embody when her voice is needed, and the only time she manifests into reality is when I get the call.
Shirley is my scammer… scammer.
One of many numbers now stored in my directory with a similar title.
For over a year now (probably closer to a year and six months) I’ve been on the receiving end from countless scammers. Extended/expired car warrantee(s), life insurance, car/motor insurance, Maine Care benefits, refunds from Microsoft, or various anti-virus offers, sweepstakes; most recently the Publishers Clearing House. The notorious “gift-card scam”. You name it, I’ve sat through it.
Before conjuring Shirley D and giving her vocal life, I had probably blocked over 200 various numbers from scamming robocalls. I’d hear the automated voice, “If you’d like to speak to our agent about what offers and blah, blah, blah, press 2 now.”
I’d hang up, and press the block button.
Next day, different number, same thing. Same thing the next day. More blocking.
Then, one afternoon I got the text, “Shirley D. you’ve been chosen for some B.S. sweepstakes from Amazon. Click link to claim your prize.”
Not today, a***oles.
The next day, a different text, “Call us at this number to claim your prize Shirley D.”
Who the hell is this Shirley?
Guess I’ll find out. Call them back.
“This is Mike Smith with Amazon Customer Relations, is this Shirley D.?”
“Who are you again?” (in my best elderly woman voice) “Speak up sonny-boy.”
“Shirley, I’m so glad you called us today. Again, this is Mike and I’m from…”
(You can probably see where this is heading)
Over the course of the next hour, and twelve minutes, I kept Mike from “Utah” on the line. Interrupting him. Being a nuisance. Having him on speakerphone while I washed the dishes, clanking pots and pans together telling him my life history. Dropping silverware into the empty sink and struggling to pick them back up. “These damn old fingers of mine.” Talking about how my hip acts up before a thunderstorm. Not allowing him to finish his scam script. Asking the most ridiculous questions I could dig up on the spot, cutting him off. Dragging it out as long as I could handle. He wanted private information. Access to my computer. Screen sharing.
“Mike, my grandson says I have a wonderful singing voice. He tells me I should record it and put it on YouTube. ‘HOME–HOME ON THE RANGE!! WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY!!’ Isn’t that beautiful, Mike. You agree with Charlie? Charlie is such a good boy. He makes my life so much easier.”
“Yes, Miss Shirley, you have a wonderful singing voice. Now, about your benefits…”
At the end of the hour and twelve, I had “Mike” so riled up he started cursing and acting the fool.
“Miss Shirley, you said you would cooperate! How long is this going to take. You’ve been in the bathroom for 20 minutes.”
I flushed the toilet holding the phone near the water. I cleared my throat and coughed out, “Who’s Shirley?” (Changing my voice to a deep low grumble)
(Stunned silence and heavy breathing) “Listen here, you, you son of a–“
“No! You listen here, Mikey. I know exactly who you are and what you’re trying to do. Send me another text. Please! Call this number again, and we’ll see how long I can keep you on the horn a second time. I have all the time in the world. Shirley doesn’t exist! She is a non-entity! The longer you talk to me… the less people you can screw over during your work day.”
“You have no idea how many people I can screw over in a day you (insert vile explicative).”
My stomach fluttered and a wave of nervous tingles fluttered up and down my back and chest.
I was speaking to a soulless, heartless, cruel, manipulative con-artist scumbag.
I’ve since made it my mission to troll them back in my free time.
When they leave a voicemail, I call them. They always seem to call me by Shirley for some reason. Regardless of the person on the other end, and even after all this time has passed, whether it’s “Sue” or “Richard” or “Mike” they answer the line and refer to me most times as Shirley D.
Each time I feel like switching roles and changing my voice back, I always finish with the fact that “SHIRLEY IS NOT HERE AND DOESN’T EXIST! What do you not understand about that?! You are barking up–the–wrong–tree!”
Well… she sort of exists. Right?
I tell you what. Shirley and I have had a bunch of fun with these cowardly scam artists. 99% of the time it ends with name calling, empty threats, and outright admission of their intentions.
The extended car warrantee story involving the family of raccoons who get into the garage, and tore my car’s interior to shreds because Charlie accidentally left the windows rolled down, is still one of my favorites. Shirley had fun dragging that story out.
Be ye so very careful of these tricksters.
Sometimes they catch on early, and hang up on me…
… I call them back.
“How dare you hang up on an old woman! So rude!”
I may continue calling back until they eventually disconnect the phone from the robo-network and the “caller can no longer be reached.” I know they’ll start up again with a different method, but it always feels good knowing I may have kept them from harming another.
It’s actually quite fun foiling their plans of trying to take advantage of the elderly, the gullible and naïve.
Well, I suppose that’s enough of my buddy Shirley for the evening. Just meandering off the beaten trail again and wandering around. All is well in my world. Edits continue, I’m struggling through some difficult areas, but I’m getting to the end. I hope all is well in everyone’s realm.
The award winning science fiction novel, The Surrender Game, Vol I of the Guardian War Chronicles, is available for purchase on Kindle for only $2.99. Free, with Kindle Unlimited. For the Surrender Game cinematic trailer, check out the link. Please subscribe in the provided area (three dots, upper right corner) to receive a notification of new posts by email or feel free to like my Facebook page to receive information about the Guardian War Chronicles and sequels to come.
Included is the first chapter to my YA series with a hopeful 2021 release date. Please give this a like if you like it, share with others to help spread the love, or leave a comment if you wish. Be good to each other. Chase the dream. Chat soon and see you at the next one.