Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where in the world is Robert Turchin?

We all have our own lists of things that just bug the heck out of us and most of us would probably agree that annoying telephone calls that come during mealtime or the last five minutes of our favorite TV shows or while we're trying to write a really clever Blog rank way up towards the top. Now, I've had my share of annoying calls: solicitation calls despite the no call list, the vote for my candidate calls from the other party during elections, and those pesky repeated wrong numbers.

For example, my unlisted home number was once written down at Full Sail University ( a film school) as being a pizza delivery number. I got calls at all hungry hours of the day and night and it didn't matter how many times I tried to explain that I am not a pizza maker. Everybody wanted a large pepperoni, please ma'am. One evening, Danny took the phone and took the guy's order. He repeated it back and then said, "You know, I'm not going to let you have this pizza. Your weight is way out of control. Face it, you're fat and its just not good for you to eat this crap." The guy on the other end of the phone didn't get the joke but the pizza order calls stopped. I burned enough calories laughing to have a second bowl of ice cream.

Last fall in addition to the daily barrage of "Vote for Barak Obama" calls, I began to get two other regular ones. Now, it plainly says on my answering message that I do not answer or acknowledge solicitation calls or numbers marked 'unknown caller'. It also says my name on the message. This no doubt helps with humans. They at least know when they have a wrong number if they are calling Mary or Maria or John or Juan and the message says "You have reached Nancy's message line." But, alas, the new calls are computer generated 'robo' calls. One is a woman with a lovely upper class British accent who simply says, "This is an attempt at collecting a debt. Please call this number and repeat your code which is blah blah blah blah." It sounds real good with a british accent. Since I do not have any debts... and as far as I know today... my identity is still my own, I know these calls are not for me. So, I just admire the accent and then delete. But really, would anyone who had debts actually return that call? Not. Especially since no company is identified and no debt specified. Do we suspect "scam" here?

The other repeat calls have been and remain my favorite. The phone rings. By now, I recognize the 800 number. I don't answer. But sometime during the next 24 hours, I do check my messages. The message for the above call has a male voice that says, "Robert Turchin." This is the point where for two months, I deleted the message. But just before Christmas, I got curious. "Just who is this Robert Turchin?" I wondered. "Is he the caller or the person being called?" So after the next call, I listened to the entire message. Which was a long rambling message saying how important it was for Robert Turchin to get in touch with some law firm. At the end of the lengthy message, Mr. Robot said, "If you are not Robert Turchin, stop listening!" I stopped listening. But next time, I called and informed the man who answered that I was not Robert, didn't know Robert, and it was the wrong number. The man, a bill collector pretending to be a lawyer, promised to stop the calls. But, of course the calls continued. Even got more frequent. Except over Christmas break. No calls came in for almost two weeks.

Weirdly, I sort of missed them. Since, when they call me at all, my family generally uses my cell number and most friends stick to email, the house got pretty quiet. But, on New years Day, the calls resumed. I found myself wondering if Robert exists at all, where is he? Who is he? A down on his luck Russian emigre or a young father in credit debt over his head? An out of work teacher or construction worker or car assembler? A poet or debt ducking pirate. Or maybe he is laid off and facing horrible medical bills and his insurance company is shafting him. Maybe he got scammed by a mortgage broker. Whoever Robert is though, I wish him well. I think we all know who the bad guys really are these days: big business, big banking, the credit and insurance industries and their minions; the bottom feeding lawyers, lobbyists, and bill collectors. So Robert, I hope the bad guys and their robots never find you.

PS: My friend Cheri has started getting calls for Robert Rodriquez. She tried calling too and got the same result. I hope Robert R stays missing too. Ta.

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