The phone rings

Never ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for retirees. … not exactly what John Donne said, but it’s close to my reality.

I do not ask for whom the phone rings, I already know it rings to remind me of a medical appointment or it is a telemarketer, a fundraiser or some outright scam artist who begins, “We have detected a problem with the Microsoft on your computer. We can help fix it.”

Sounds so helpful, doesn’t it? My husband responded once because obviously this caller from Microsoft had our computer’s best interests at heart. He walked over to the computer sat down and step by step proceeded to do as instructed until something made him stop. Puzzled at their procedure, he hung up and called our local technician. That ever so helpful caller had initiated problems that the technician looked at, sighed and said, “next time, hang up immediately and call me. I can check it out from the office.”

We now answer those calls with, “We already have a contract with a local computer support group who monitors and fixes anything wrong with the computer.”

That phone call comes to anybody including my friend who does not have a computer. She has a cell phone and that suffices for what she needs to do digitally. Still the scammers call to alert her, “We see you have a problem with Microsoft on your computer. If you will go over to your computer, we can help you fix it.”

“I do?” she responds with a shocked, concerned voice. “I will have my secretary get right on that. Thank you for calling,” and she hangs up.

After she told me that she said, “I felt awful that I lied to them, but then I realized they had lied to me. I don’t have a computer, how could I have a problem with Microsoft?”

“One day they they called me back on the same day to say the same thing. I said, ‘What?! I told my secretary to fix that this morning. I am going to write her a note, leave it on her desk and tell her to fix it this afternoon. Thank you.’ and I hung up.” she said. Of course she had as much of a secretary as the person on the phone had seen a problem with her Microsoft.

Still if it weren’t for telemarketers and scammers, the phones in our old folks’ home rarely rings. Over the years we have developed one response for fundraisers and telemarketers toll the bell, “we do not make any financial commitments over the phone.”

But wait there’s more to our exciting phone calls! We also receive robo-calls reminding us of our next medical appointment. I think we retired to have time for medical appointments. I don’t need a check-up, but obviously someone thinks I am about to fall apart. My first year of retirement I counted four physicals and a mini-physical every other month when I donated blood. Ten times that year someone measured my vitals, asked if I have any problems and asked a list of specific questions about disorders. Four, count them, four regular physicals: two that are mandatory for retirees on Medicare, one simply because I am a woman and once a year our insurance company bribes us to let them come to our house and check us out in person.

So yes, the bell tolls for us: to check our computer, check our health, drain our checkbook and every once in a while someone calls to check on us, chat and make our day.

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