King Kong Telecomm handles my phones and internet, a megalithic communication company dedicated to preventing human contact. Their corporate hugeness is too vast and unknowable for the gabbling masses. So many lonely humans out there calling in, complaining— their bursitis, their ungrateful children, ill-fitting dentures— God knows what they’ll say or when they’ll get around to any pertinent company interests. The last time a human answered a company phone, they went ringy-dingy and you got Ernestine. Go to lilytomlin.com, I’m not available to answer impertinences from the recently born.
Cyber Suzie answers their helpline in her sultry voice. Does Suzie also have a 900 number? There’s something about her. She offers me a few choices, very reasonable choices, but I sense the innuendo behind her professional façade. I play her little game, eschewing the option to speak my account number and tap in the numbers with a saucy hint of calypso. Is that a tremolo she betrays for a moment? Then some guy with a basso Spanish voice breaks in. “Para Español,” yada yada. Suzie’s sharp, trying to game me with this Latin heartthrob. I ignore him, he leaves. Or maybe not, I don’t care.
“I’ll bet he’s short,” I say.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” says Suzie. Sure.
“So long as Raymundo does,” I say. Then, “you two are wrong for each other, office romances never work out.”
I know she’s covering for him as he leaves in a huff; she repeats her little mantra, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” Uh-huh. Awkward pause. She recovers. “Please say or press your billing address zip code.”
I comply without inflection. I know she’s mulling it over. Then Suzie does something unexpected. Suzie goes “Hmmm.”
“Hmmm, let’s see if I’ve got this right,” she says, then repeats my digital input. She had my number at “Hmmm,” ends her interlocution with …“right?”
“Right,” I parrot back, stunned.” Suzie hmmmed me.
When she asks the nature of my inquiry, I tell her— I’m not even sure how, since my head’s still humming. Next thing I know, I’m in the hold queue for a live person.
The nature of my inquiry is trouble paying my bill online. Their website was refusing to process my payment. It’d been a while since my last chat with Suzie— maybe she had a hand in it, crossed a few wires to inveigle me back. Raymundo being her rebound, she reached out. I just rubbed salt in the wound, poor kid, no wonder she patched me through so peremptorily. My reverie’s broken by a carbon entity. She’s got none of Suzie’s allure. I explain the problem. Unsurprisingly, I need to speak to someone else for my problem. Another hold queue, this one lasts through the stone, iron and industrial ages.
The problem turns out to be with my Godzilla browser. It’s apparently got some conflict with their King Kong website. I suggest that they might simply say that on their website rather than dead-ending well-intentioned customers with encrypted check routing numbers in their hot little hands. I suggest that just saying so would save the time of their customers and themselves. My suggestion is drowned out by the din of clashing titans hurling hapless programmers into high voltage towers. Doomed, non-binary puny human logic.
Switching browsers remedies the problem. I’ve spent an hour more than I would have scribbling a check, tearing a stub, stamping and mailing the payment. Still, I had some moments with Suzie. Suzie hmmmed me.
My phone rings. A breather, hot and heavy. Instead of hanging up, something familiar keeps me on the line.