My friends and acquaintances often remark about my sweet temperament. (Notice, I left out "family"--they know the truth, sadly.) I have moments of sweetness, to be sure, but there is a side to my personality that more closely resembles Dr. Jekyll's alter-ego, Mr. Hyde. It comes out when the phone rings.
If I answer, and find a telemarketer or a survey taker speaking to me from the other end of the line, something happens to me. I feel my face distort. My voice lowers to a snarl, and even worse, I suddenly find myself channeling crazy characters along the lines of Sybil.
After every call, I chastise myself and promise never to scare away--er--dissuade--callers in the nutty manner ever again, but, alas, I can't control the monster within. It breaks its chains and rattles its cage as soon as the chirpy greeting "Hello! May I speak to the lady of the house?" makes its way down the line and out the phone receiver into my ear.
One day, a telemarketer asked to speak to my, then, 17 year old son. How dare she! He wasn't even of age!
The fur sprouted along the back of my hands and a growl ensued. But something about the sweet-voiced woman, simply trying to do her job, made me hesitate to roar and rattle and snarl. So I tried to be nice. I really did.
It was her question, though, after I managed a terse "No, you may not speak to him", that brought about the hideous change in me.
"Is there any other minor in the home I may speak with then?" She asked this with great confidence.
The monster in my head clicked over and allowed Sybil, the woman of multiple personalities, to come out.
"Oh, yesssss. There does happen to be another minor in the house."
Caller person perked up. "Oh, wonderful! May I know the age and sex?"
"Surely. He is, um, about...hmmm...two times seven...that would be fourteen."
"Fourteen? Well, I think I have good news for your son."
"He's not exactly my son."
"No. But he does live here."
She paused. "May I ask his name?"
"Surely. Its Jipper."
"Jipper? Can Jipper come to the phone?"
"Well, he would, but as he is now having his toenails clipped and his ears trimmed, I think you'll have to call back later."
"What? He's...having his..."
"Toenails clipped and his ears trimmed."
"Oh. Um...is Jipper a...a...person?"
"We like to think of him as one, but I guess you could really call him a canine."
"A...canine? You mean..a DOG?!"
"Yes, but he's very clever and understands every word we say to him, so--"
Sybil and Mr. Hyde high-fived one another in my brain.
The phone conversation that got me written down, I'm sure, in all call centers as the crazy do-not-call lady, though, came one day when I was already trying to figure out how to get something fixed on my laptop. You know how that unleashes the madman in all of us, right? I was in NO mood for telemarketers.
"Dis is (gobbly gook) (gobbly gook) ant I like to spick wid (gobbly gook) (gobbly gook)."
"Huh? I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't understand you. (I was feeling some left-over shame from the doggie call so I was trying, again, to be nice.)
"I sed, dis is (gobbly gook)(gobbly gook) calding frohm (gobbly gook) and I nid to spik to (gobbly gook) (gobbly gook)."
Steam blew out both ears...fur grew...chains rattled and snarls formed. I could not control the monster much longer. "Listen! I. Do. Not. Understand. You."
"Vell, I am calding to teld you a bout a new (gobbly gook). It id a vunderful (gobbly gook)."
In my brain, Sybil calmed down Mr. Hyde and came out sporting a strange language.
"Vell, gurgling in the veldy voss and huber so dee tillyness. Versehen du?"
Looong pause..."Pahden mee, mahm?"
"I said, crimmerest bitner joose in the glopper muddlehouse. Okay?"
"I...sorry..I no understand joo--"
"Vell, good, because I no understand joo, either! Pliss to not call me iver agin. Jabberwocky?"
Sybil preened while Mr. Hyde rolled on the floor of my head, laughing his crazy brains out.
Capice? Telemarketers...you have been warned.