Hello this is Rachel | Trouble with Old People, October 2018

by Steve Van Auken


“Hello, this is Rachel from Cardmaster Services. It is extremely important that we talk to you about your credit card account. Press one now.”

“Oh hello, Rachel. Thank God you’ve called. I’ve been trying to reach you. This is Bill.”

“Yes this is Rachel and you may indeed be Bill. We are calling about a very serious problem with your credit card. For me to help you I will need the three small numbers on the back of your card. What are they?”

“Rachel that is a very good question. I knew you would need that. If I could just get the card out of this little plastic folder in my wallet. And I can’t find my reading glasses. Can you look in your records for the numbers?  My name is Bill Smyth.”

“We do not have your records. There was a . . . flood. A big flood here in Topeka. It is the place in Kansas where I am. Tell me all the numbers on your card. Or the police will come to your house.”

“Oh my gosh, Rachel. Are you OK?  Did you have to take a boat to get to work?  A lot of people I know, and I admit I’ve done it too, talk about how young people today don’t know how to work hard. But here you are, coming to work through a flood. You young people have a lot to teach us.”

“The police are coming to your house now. Because of your bad balance on your credit card. Get in your car and drive to your bank and send five hundred dollars in gift cards to the address I will send you.”

“I will, Rachel, just as soon as my wife gets home. She went shopping with her sister. Our car isn’t working. That’s why I’m so glad you called.”

“What is it about a car?  I am not the mechanic. I am Rachel. Now you will tell me your social security number. Before the police arrive.”

“Good idea, Rachel. But I already tried the police. Bob was here just last night. That’s Bob Gibbs, he’s our deputy sheriff. We get together with him and his wife, Peggy, for pinochle.”

“I am not this Peggy. I am Rachel. This call is being monitored for quality and training purposes and your quality is not good. Not good at all. Tell me now your date of birth.”

“I’m not explaining well, you’re right. I can ramble on and forget things. You can ask my wife. Just yesterday she was asking me what our grandson said to me on the phone. He either said he was enjoying college or he had E. coli. The reason I was trying to call you is that our car is at the Speedy Fix. It needs some work. We wanted to pay with the credit card. It was for $312.82, but the card was declined. That’s never happened before. What should we do?”

“You will now go to your bank and send this money. With the gift cards. I will send the money to the Speedy place. As soon as your money gets here to Topeka. In Kansas.”

“I’ll do it first thing. I’m an early riser, you can ask my wife. Then a lot of times I’ll take a nap in the afternoon. With the cat. Do you have a pet?”

“It is the plan. You will go to your bank tomorrow. FedEx will come to you with the money for a cab since you were foolish and broke your car. Then you will send five thousand dollars in gift cards to the address I give you. From there it will come to me here, in Topeka. In Kansas. Where I am.”

“But have the flood waters gone down enough to let the FedEx truck get to your office?”

“Yes. It has…drained. You will not forget?”

“You can count on me, Rachel. And thanks a lot. If you want to use this call for your training purposes, go right ahead. Glad to help. Just be careful going home tonight. It’s liable to be muddy.

“That’s the thing about floods. You can run into a real slippery spot right where you don’t expect it.”



Steve Van Auken has now lived in Akron long enough to give directions according to where things used to be.