Nice Girl

On Monday I had a very slight run-in with a creditor who called looking for $39 that I owe Banana Republic. Ordinarily I don’t even pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number on the Caller ID or if it just says UNAVAILABLE or OUT OF AREA. But for some reason I was in the mood to pick up the phone on Monday, without even checking to see who was calling. When this cretin called looking for $39, I could just tell it was going to be trouble.
“Trouble” because of his attitude. Not mine. He just started off with the standard monotone/drone bullshit, using my name several times so I’d feel like I was “special” enough for him to address me in such a lighthearted, familiar/personal manner. Then he started in on the Real Reason for his call. And that’s where his Mr. Familiarity schpiel ended.
My account, he said, was 24 days overdue. I owed $39. I should pay immediately to avoid a $25 surcharge for late payment. I could pay right then, at that very second, before I even took another breath. It was that simple. I could pay right then. I could pay right then. All I had to do was give him tracking information from a personal check. I could and should pay right then. Right then.
I told him I never received the bill, which was not a lie. It was then that he got all snippy with me. “Uh HUH,” he said. “Mmm HMM.”
“Don’t get all ACCUSATORY with ME,” I shot back. “I told you I didn’t get the bill, and I didn’t get the bill. Please send me another bill for my records.”
“It was mailed at the beginning of June,” he said.
“I understand that,” I said, ever so calmly, in my best Hannibal Lechter scary-calm voice. “I never received it. Send me another bill for my records. OK?”
“If you make payment right now, you won’t be charged $25.”
“I do not have my checkbook here,” I said. “I will call the person who has my checkbook and arrange for payment to be made.”
“Who has the checkbook?” he had the gall to ask.
This was the one moment that I could kick myself for. It was no big deal, but I could still kick myself.
“My boyfriend does.” Why did I have to tell him that? Was it any of his fucking business? “I will call him and have him make arrangements to pay today.”
“He has the checkbook and will make payment?”
“As I just TOLD you, YES,” I said. “I will make arrangements to have it paid today. Didn’t I just say that?”
At this point I could hear the blood pounding in my ears. I started to literally see red. I wanted to start stringing together all sorts of fun words to create new curses, because the old standards (cocksucker, asshole, motherfucking son of a bitch) just wouldn’t do. Instead, I chose to piss him off by being “nice”.
You should hear me do “nice”. It’s really disgusting. I don’t know if it sounds as fake as I know it is. I don’t think it does. However, if you know me at all in so-called real life, you know that when I decide to go into “nice” mode, it’s a sure sign that there’s fun a-brewin’.
“Sure!” I said, grinning broadly so it would come across in my voice. I pictured myself in a floral dress, sitting on a swing on a veranda somewhere in the South, sipping iced tea in a pretty glass, complete with a fresh mint leaf and clinking ice cubes. “But would you please be so kind as to send me another copy of the bill for my records? I like to, y’know, keep my records up-to-date and complete in case there’s ever a question about payment.”
“If you pay today you won’t be charged $25,” he said, actually sounding even more disturbed.
“That’s great! Thank you!” I said, with what I think was a touch of a Southern drawl. (Just a touch.) “Fantastic. I’ll make sure it’s paid today!”
“Today. $39,” he said. “Payment must be made TODAY.”
“Sure! Yep! As soon as I get off the phone!” (Yes, all exclamation points were practically visible.)
“Hrmph,” he mumbled. “Thank you and have a nice day.”
“Oh, you do the same!” I said, still grinning maniacally. “Have a fantastic day!”
He hung up with a huffy click. And I’m sure he continued to scribble the word BITCH all over a little tablet in his pathetic cubicle, the way he no doubt was doing for the duration of our enervating exchange.
I gently depressed the “off” button on the receiver, set it back on my desk, and only then did I let loose a string of the most adorable expletives you’d ever want to hear. Like those snap-together beads that toddlers play with, but even more colorful.
All that fun for just $39 (with no $25 surcharge!). And I didn’t even have to leave the house!