The Gentle-Hearted Computer Scammer

Sometimes I like to toy with the scammers on the phone. It’s an exercise in quick thinking, saying whatever comes into my head, messing with them until they hang up in an outraged huff. This time it was the Microsoft scam. You know, they call and say that they’re from Windows and they’ve detected errors on your computer. The conversation went like this.

Him: “I’m calling from Microsoft Windows, Ma’am. We’ve detected dangerous errors on your computer. Do you know that it’s under attack?”

Me: “But I don’t have any computers.”

He pauses, startled.

Him: “None at all?”

Me: “No, it’s against my religion.”

Him, with a laugh: “I’ve never heard of such a thing. What kind of religion is that?”

Me, calm and earnest: “You see, I’m not allowed to use anything invented since the 1950s. I can talk on the phone because that existed in the 1950s, or use a typewriter. But not a computer.”

Him: “But why? How can anyone live without a computer or a phone or anything?”

Me: “Look at the world around you. Do you think it’s that good? Or maybe it was better before.”

Him, quickly, excited: “You know, you’re right. I had a problem with being addicted to my phone! I was on it all the time and very late. It was terrible, and I tried hard to get control of it. I’m better with it now, but still, it’s not good.”

Me, sympathetically: “It can’t be much fun working in a call centre, calling people about their computers.”

Him: “No, no. It’s terrible, and I hate it, but I have to have a job.”

Me: “If you could do anything you wanted, anything else, what would it be?”

Him, eagerly: “I want to build things.”

Me: “Could you go to school for that?”

Him: “Oh, I did, Ma’am. I went to school to study engineering. I couldn’t get a job in it, but I applied to many places, and I hope I will soon.”

Me: “I hope you will, too. You’re a good man, and you should have a good job.”

Him, effusively: “Thank you, I really thank you. It was wonderful talking.”

Me, startled, embarrassed because I was messing around, and amazed, touched, grateful that somehow, in the midst of my bullshit and his deceitful script, there was a genuine connection, a meeting of hearts, “I’m sure that you can do it.”

Him: “Bless you, Ma’am.”

We wished each other a good day, and I hung up the phone.

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