Ask Not for Whom the Phone Rings….. (by Kip Allen)
Gary called again today.
I answered the phone on the second ring, and a familiar voice with a thick Pakistani accent said, “Hello, this is Gary from Microsoft Computer Technologies. I’m calling about some problems with your computer.”
Gary has been calling us for years now. More than once I’ve thought that as soon as he identifies himself, I should shout down the hallway, “Honey, pick up the phone! It’s Gary!” Then back to the phone, “How ARE you, Gary? How’s the family? The Missus? Kids doing okay in school?”
It is quite possible that my computer does have problems. A nagging fear haunts me that Gary is right, that I am somehow doing irreversible electronic damage (Luddite that I am), and if I don’t follow Gary’s instructions, in merely a few, critical seconds the whole apparatus will crash in a puff of smoke, alarm bells ringing and possibly sparks or even flames leaping out of the keyboard and the monitor.
Gary’s phone calls plug into my technological insecurity. His whole routine has more plausibility than, say, the e-mail supposedly sent by a grandson after he has been mugged in a London hotel parking lot and needs money wired right away. Gary is more plausible, too, than the famous Nigerian prince, who has a trust fund waiting for us both as soon as the bank receives payment of minor legal fees.
Also, Gary is smart enough to know that threats and brow-beating won’t work with me. Pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service, demanding immediate payment of non-existent back taxes, would only anger me, and soon we would be larynx-deep in a shouting match. (One such phone call actually ended with the caller thundering at me, “Pay the money you owe us, or you’re going to jail.” Then he added, almost as an afterthought: “Have a nice day.”)
I could get suckered into Gary’s routine…. except for his name. With that wonderful accent, I expect a name like Sanjay, or Gupta or Radamathnan. But…..Gary?
I envision “Gary” in a small, drab cubicle with a metal desk and chair. Overhead, a florescent light buzzes and flickers. He has a thermos of lukewarm tea. Also on
the desk is a daily print-out of names and phone numbers. A poster intended to inspire is thumb-tacked to the wall. The image is of an eagle in flight, and at the
bottom is the word “SOAR!” One thumbtack has popped off, and the corner is curling down.
Gary’s phone calls, frequent though they may be, always take me by surprise. Once I managed to stammer, “I can’t believe you’re still calling me!” He replied cunningly, “And I cannot believe you would not take care of your computer!”
Oh, yeah, he’s good.
Today, though, I was ready for him.
“Hello, this is Gary from Microsoft Computer Technologies. I am calling about some problems with your computer.”
I was barely able to contain my excitement. Carefully and clearly, I said, “Gary, are you ready to accept Jesus as your personal savior?”
“Gary, right now, are you rea—“
I heard a click, then a dial tone. Then a woman’s recorded voice said, “If you would like to make a call, please hang up, then dial again. If you need help, dial the operator.”
* * *
Gary will probably call back sometime. He’s persistent. But somehow I now feel I’ve got the upper hand. After all, God’s on my side. And maybe I can get Jesus to fix my computer.