07 October 2011

#fridayflash: what's in the name


This is my first foray into #fridayflash. Just something light this time — let me know what you think!

Ellen locked her apartment door behind her and sighed. It had been a rotten Friday rounding off a rotten week at work, and she was looking forward to a night of TV-watching. As she prised the high-heeled shoes off her feet, she tried to figure out if she would be better off making herself dinner, or using the last of her patience to wait for pizza delivery.

The phone started ringing as she hung her coat up. She was expecting a friend of hers to call about seeing a movie Saturday, so she picked it up without checking caller ID.

"Yes, am I speaking to Mrs. Stilzkind?" said a voice that sounded like it was coming from far away, over cheap equipment and a bad line.

Ellen hobbled to the couch, wishing her toes wouldn't take so long to straighten out after she took her shoes off. "Mrs. Stilzkind is my grandmother," she said, "but just skip to your sales pitch."

"Sorry, ma'am?"

Ellen rolled onto the couch and gingerly pressed her toes into the cushions, wincing. "What are you trying to sell me?"

"Oh no Mrs. Stilzkind, I only wish to inform you of an excellent offer to have your home re-insulated with straw. High-tech straw insulation is a wonderful way to invest in an environmentally-friendly product that will put money in your pocket through reduced heating bills—"

"I live in an apartment," said Ellen.

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Stilzkind?"

"I live in an apartment, and Stilzkind is my father's name, not mine. Also, I'm not interested. Good-bye!"

She pressed the disconnect button and dropped the phone on the floor, letting her arm hang off the edge of the couch. Supper, she decided, would have to wait until she could bear the thought of standing up again.

The phone rang.

Before she could stop herself, Ellen picked up the phone, pressed the answer button, and said, "Hello?"

"Good evening, Mrs. Rumpole," said a smooth, confident voice. "I'm calling to remind you that it's time to put your garden to bed for the winter. Castle Greenhouse has a great selection of straw mulches that can be delivered right to your back door—"

"Mrs. Rumpole is my mother's name, not mine, I live in an apartment, and I'm not interested. Good-bye!"

She hit the disconnect button so hard she had to press it a few more times to make it pop up again. Then she dropped the phone on the floor and stared up at the ceiling, and decided that ordering pizza wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Ellen waved her hand over the floor, trying to find the phone, but it had bounced and rolled away when she dropped it. She made herself roll onto her side so she could see where it went. At first she thought it had vanished, but then she spotted it halfway under the couch.

She picked up the phone, and was just getting into a position where she could comfortably dial with her other hand when...

The phone rang.

Ellen considered answering and then immediately hanging up, but she didn't want to put the caller on hold by accident and wind up talking to them after she'd ordered her pizza.

She jabbed the answer button and said, "Hello?"

"Good evening!" said a voice with far too much energy in it. "Have I reached Mrs. Romila Stilzkind?"

"There is no such person," said Ellen, wishing she didn't have such good phone manners.

"Ah!" said the voice. "I was wondering if you'd say that. Please, I am a floor supervisor at the sales centre that both Enviro Insulation and Castle Greenhouse outsource to. We don't usually do this, but I couldn't help but notice that you were contacted by two of our staff tonight, but under two different names. You told us that Stilzkind is your father's name but not your own, and Rumpole is your mother's name, but not your own. Please ma'am, if only so we can correct our records, what is your name?"

"Rumpole-Stilzkind!" said Ellen. And she turned off the phone, unplugged its base unit, took the battery out of her cell phone, and turned off her wireless router. Which is to say, for all intents and purposes, she disappeared from the world without a trace.

7 comments:

  1. Cute story. You make me want pizza! Welcome to Friday Flash.

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  2. Oh, the joys of being a constant tele-marketing target, it makes you feel like screaming doesn't it?

    A nicely flowing tale, welcome to #fridayflash.

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  3. @Peter: Thank you! I've been having lots of fun reading other writers' posts.

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  4. @Steve: Thank you! Canada recently implemented a national "do not call" list, and it's been a huge joke -- the telemarketers kept quiet for a while, then went back to business as usual.

    There's an idea for an anthology, actually -- telemarketing retaliation stories. Hmmmm...

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  5. Cute story, sounds like she needs to go on the do not call register for telemarketing. ^_^

    A good play on names.

    helen-scribbles.com

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  6. You hooked me in the opening and I like her style with the telemarketing agents. (Enjoyed the play on Rumpelstiltskin.)

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  7. @Helen: Thank you! I can personally verify that the do not call register in Canada has almost-nil effect on these calls :-(.

    @Aidan: Thank you! Some of her replies to the telemarketers are self-quotes. I can never figure out how they know so much marketing information about me, but miss the part about how I have an address with a unit number!

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