I cancelled my credit card today. The customer service representative, whose name was a mountainous northern state that I’ll let you figure out for yourself, didn’t sound human at all. In fact the only giveaway that he was human was that that he kept fumbling the company-mandated phone script, which I’m sure is taped to the side of his computer monitor. He also said “bear with me” a LOT. To which I always replied: “OK.”
Anyway he asked me why exactly I was closing my account, and I was blunt about it. I said, “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore.”
He said, “Is there anything I can do to convince you otherwise?”
“Are you sure?”
He read a few lines written by his reptilian overlords . . . something about “thank you for your business” and “we hope to have you back” or some crap like that. He reminded me to cut up my card and I told him I did that six months ago.
It reminded me of the time my former employer sent me a letter in the mail telling me I had to do something with my 401k. They didn’t care what I did with it, but they were clear that I had to something with it. I had just moved to California, and was broke as hell. My mattress, which was on the floor, was so thin that the weight of my body caused my spine to dip into the ground. I had back problems for months. So I called the company who was holding my money ransom and told them I wanted to cash out so I could buy a new mattress.
The dude on the other end of the phone, either a lizard child of the cold-blooded ones or just some hypnotized halfwit, warned me that it was unwise to remove the money from the black talons of his owners. He said I needed to think about my “Future.” It was a sum of no more than $600. I had only worked at the company for nine months. I told him I wanted what was rightfully mine, however paltry though it may be, and he sighed and agreed to send me a check.
He too asked me if there was anything he could do to change my mind, and I told him I wasn’t certain the financial institutions in place today would exist when I’m old and grey. I told him we’ll all probably be scavenging for potatoes and mushrooms and potable water in just a few short decades. He was in a hurry to get me off the phone after that!
I bought a mattress at the MUJI store in San Jose with that money. I rented a truck and drove down there to pick it up. The friendly employees helped me load it into the back and everything. Ten minutes later, after I had gotten onto the highway, I watched in horror through the rearview mirror as my new mattress went sailing 50 feet into the air and came rocketing down onto the highway, where it was immediately obliterated by dozens of cars running over it.
I looped back around and called the state police, who had to temporarily close the road so I could drag the sad remains onto the shoulder. The trooper was very mad at me. He said the only reason he didn’t write me a ticket was because he could I tell I was already having “a piece of shit day.”
I had to laugh. I laughed like hell, I really did. That’s what my whole life is like. As I like to say, it really is a cruel joke at my expense. But in the case of my 401k, and the ominous warning from a guy in a cubicle wearing a clip-on tie, and the death of my mattress, it is beautiful irony which must be respected and kept behind glass.