I made a mistake yesterday.
I input my information into an online page looking for movers to get me to Wisconsin.
Now I've been inundated for 30 hours with some of the most questionable callers I've dealt with since being a newspaper editor.
Just how many people named "Spider" can be a customer service representative?
"Hello, Richard, dis here is Spider. I wanna talk to youse about moving your stuff -- I mean your stuff for now."
"Well," I said, "I don't have anything worth value. I mean unless you want a torn copy of 'Thou and I' by Martin Buber."
(Off the phone: "Marty, bubalah -- I got this guy here who is talking smack about 'Me and Youse.'")
(Buber takes the phone.) Buber: "Schweinehund!" (Literally from the German "pig dog.")
I've been called worse.
The calls during the day didn't get any better. One of the tactics was for some companies to transfer me to one customer service representative to another, a strategy I know well. I've seen some 15,000 police reports and civil lawsuits. The scam is to confuse the mark (me, the caller) and when it comes time to pay the bill, which has doubled or tripled, is for the company to say, "Well, who offered you that?" The customer says, "I don't know -- some guy named Timmy." The response, "Well, there's no Timmy here and if you failed to get something in writing, we can't stand by it."
Another guy -- it was all guys I talked to today -- said because of the opening of the country and the burgeoning of the economy, many people were waiting seven months to move.
In the con game, grifting, this is what is called "the squeeze." The grifter makes up a story and then the mark, me, asks if I can pay extra to move.
What most of these folks don't know is that I have little to lose.
I've spent two years living out of a suit case and realize I need so very little. In my last move, the company failed to take my storage unit and so I lost the only things valuable to me: mementos of my father, drawings from my kid until she was 10 years old and my own juvenilia.
And whether I have my stuff or not, I'll soon be back in the Wisconsin Nort'woods, sipping a Leinenkugel's.
Peace and a Summer Shandy upon all of you my brothers and sisters.