Days after I started my current job, an email went around to the entire staff (University-wide) about a phone scam. Someone would call claiming they were from Xerox, and they would…I don’t know. I don’t think the email specified what the scam part of it was. It just basically said that if you get a call from Xerox, get off the phone or your genitals will shrivel.
I forgot about that email the first time I received a call from Xerox. Being the dutiful employee I am, I let the caller know that I was not the contact person for equipment issues (they wanted a “meter read” heh heh) but I’d find out who was and have that person return the call. I’d only been here for a couple of weeks at that point, so I sent the email to a few people around PBS in hopes of reaching the right person. I promptly received a reply from one of my (dour) coworkers that simply said, “This is a scam.” A vague bell went off about the vague email I’d received, so I blew off following up with the 800 number.
From that point on – basically the past six months – I’ve received at least one call per week from Xerox. Sometimes they’d leave messages, sometimes we’d chat. Depending upon my mood, I’d either say, “You have the wrong number,” or “I’ve asked repeatedly for my number to be removed from your system.” The person on the other end of the phone would either apologize for bothering me or just hang up. I figured, if this were a legit business call, they’d stay after me. Must be a scam. Right? A polite one, granted, but a scam just the same. This started really getting on my nerves recently because enough already. Last week, when a chick from Xerox called I said, “I know this is a scam. Please stop calling me.” She said “Okay” and got off the phone.
When I received a call from Xerox today, I sort of lost it. I’m not in a bad mood or anything – in fact, I’m in a pretty good mood today. I guess maybe I’m in a piss-and-vinegar sort of mood, which means that I’m having a lot of fun with life today even if the people around me aren’t necessarily having the same experience. So this dude (Jeremy) calls wanting to read my meter. So I read him the riot act. Told him that I am tired of these phone calls every two days and…well, I don’t need to type out the vitriol. Rather than hanging up, Jeremy explained to me that this was not a scam and that he really, really needed a meter reading. So I started grilling him about the information he had – what person was he calling, what is my number, what is the billing address, do you service your machines? (yes, we were there in May), then why didn’t you get the freaking meter read in May?, etc. I never once cussed. It was business bitchy rather than personal bitchy.
As our conversation continued (it went on for a good long while), I noticed that his breathing was getting shallow. I shit you not. I could tell he was really upset. Uh oh. People who pull phone scams for a living a) don’t stay on the phone with someone who isn’t a good target and b) don’t have enough of a soul to get that worked up. I started experiencing nagging doubts. Perhaps this guy was legit. Or, at least he thought he was legit.
Once again I took down the information, and rather than deal with dourpuss, I went directly to our IT guy. He called the number. Hhmmm, it seems to really be Xerox we’re calling. He talks to someone and explains the situation, mentioning Jeremy’s name. The woman at Xerox said that Jeremy was actually standing right next to her and did the IT guy want to speak with him. Uh oh. So I told the IT guy to make sure he apologized for me to poor Jeremy. So Jeremy gets on the phone and immediately starts bitching about the conversation we’d just had, and the IT guy tries to explain the situation. We find out that Xerox needs to be calling the public RADIO station rather than the public TELEVISION station, and the reason I didn’t recognize the contact person Xerox has in their records (the chick who used to have my extension) is because she no longer works here AND when she did work here she was upstairs in radio.
So once we get that all straightened out, I joke with a coworker about hearing a news story tonight about a guy at Xerox named Jeremy who shot his coworkers while screaming, “This is not a scam!” Yes, I realize I’m way over-inflating my importance to Jeremy the Xerox guy. But I did feel horrible. So I called him. Left a message of apology. He just called back and I apologized profusely. Said that I hoped I hadn’t ruined his day. He said that I had not and that he has phone calls “like that” quite often. Ouch. Poor Jeremy. Just trying to make a living.