Hunter and Hunted
The phone sits within reach of my chair. If it rings it can only be one of two things. A family emergency or a nusiance call. Fortunately it is the latter.
A robot voice offers to clean my oven. This is disturbing as it suggests a spy has crept into our kitchen and seen the the state of our oven. It really would benefit from a thorough scrub. If it was a genuine robot service I would book my appointment immediately. I wouldn’t feel the same sense of shame if an artificial life form had it’s head in the oven to apply a chemical peel treatment.
The next time I pick up it’s a disembodied voice warning me that a six hundred pound payment has been placed overseas on my Mastercard credit card. A brief moment of panic subsides as I recall I don’t have a Mastercard credit card. Almost had me there.
My next caller struggles to make himself heard over the background clamour of a noisy call centre. It’s a Google security technician warning me of something dire. I take a moment to consider why Google, all-powerful global tech giant, is calling me on the old dog and bone. I decline their services but the security technician is persistent, he really is concerned about the security of my search engine. If only Google would hire someone as diligent as this to beef up their own security.
After a year of almost no ringing the phone is off the hook. Nature is healing, spring is sprunging, the phone scammers are emerging from hibernation. Like Freddy, Jason and Leatherface they never truly die, they’re merely plumping up their suckers list. Revenge on horny teens is old news, they’re after something far more juicy: my passwords.
Now it’s the polite voice of a young man who’s excited to share his offer of a government grant to wallpaper our windows. He inquires if I am the home owner as his file suggests and is it really the case I haven’t wallpapered my windows yet?
I sigh. I was just in the middle of writing. Actually writing. Not thinking about writing or worrying about not having written or checking Twitter to avoid writing. Actual writing. Words on paper. If I wasn’t exactly in a flow state I was taking a long run up to a flow state. That has been brought to an abrupt halt by a transparent rip-off. An obvious con job. Flowtus Interruptus.
I’m reminded of a visit to my parents some years past and being baffled by my dad getting genuinely angry at a cold caller. Why, I shrugged. You just ignore them.
I slam the phone down and instantly recognise my mistake. Any seasoned homeworker knows you never interrupt a cold-caller mid-spiel. The brief moment of gratification you receive is not worth the consequences. A scammer is bound by a sacred duty to finish their script. A homeworker respects this, waits until the script is read to the end and then, and only then, politely declines the invitation to furnish the scammer with their life savings.
As the cheetah pursues the gazelle and as the Nazgûl hunts the hobbit the scammer will ring again and again until they run their prey to ground and complete their preposterous pitch. When I next pick up the phone I will not speak as the scammer will put the phone down if I do. They will try again later in the hope of a fresh, more credulous member of the household picking up and giving them our bank account details. Hunter and hunted. Scammer and homeworker. The eternal struggle continues.
I am a patient boy. I will wait for the call. It will give me time to consider wallpapering the windows thanks to a government grant and how, slowly, inexorably, I am turning into my father.