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Eb Griper’s problems with robo calls

Country Roads

The prevailing image of Ebeneezer Griper in my mind is a grumpy old man frowning as he reads his daily newspaper. The other day I ran into him frowning at his cell phone.

It was at Eb’s favorite coffee shop. I had stopped in for a cup o’ joe and saw him sitting in his favorite booth at the back of the shop.

“Where’s your newspaper?” I asked as I slid into the booth. Eb looked up with an even deeper frown.

“Who can read a newspaper when your cellphone rings all the time?” Eb grumbled.

“Women looking for a good time, I assume.”

“You ain’t funny, fat boy,” he snarled with an even deeper frown. “I’ve been getting these stupid robo calls. Dozens a day. Trying to sell me things I don’t want and I don’t need.”

“You know,” I suggested, “you can block those numbers on your cell phone.”

“Yeah, I’ve tried that but an hour later they call me from another number.”

“You could just not answer your phone and let the calls go to voice mail.”

Eb’s frown softened. “I know, but I’m waiting for a call from Publisher’s Clearing House. I think I have a good shot at the grand prize this year.”

“You seem really angry,” I observed.

“I’m so ticked I could chew up nails and spit out a barbed wire fence,” Eb snapped.

I tried to steer the conversation in a slightly different direction. “So what are these robo callers trying to sell you?”

“Oh, they tell me my automobile warranty has expired and I should buy a new one from them.”

“So, has your car’s warranty really expired?” I asked.

Eb glared at me over his wire rim eyeglass frames. “I drive a 1954 Studebaker pick-up…”

“Oh, yeah…” I interrupted. “So what else are they selling?”

“Had a call this morning from a credit card company,” Eb exclaimed. “Said they wanted to offer me a lower rate.”

“And the problem is…”

“I don’t carry a credit card. Haven’t had a credit card since that incident at Walmart.”

“What incident was that?”

Eb hesitated for a few seconds, stared at the tabletop and softly said, “Well, when I went to pay one day the cashier said, ‘Strip down facing me.’ She was apparently referring to my credit card. I was so humiliated I threw the card in the trash can.”

“So, you’re never going to carry a credit card again?”

“I’ve thought about it, but my finances are so bad nowadays I only get pre-declined credit card offers in the mail.”

“That bad, huh?”

“I’m so broke Motel Six won’t leave the light on for me anymore.”

It was time to steer the conversation in yet another direction. “On a happier note, how is Hilda?

“Oh, she’s fine. We celebrated out 64th wedding anniversary last week.”

“Sixty-four years of marriage,” I said, “that’s amazing. Happy anniversary.”

Eb rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that is amazing all right. Now she’s demanding that for our 65th I should take her on a cruise.”

“That makes sense. A week on the Caribbean could rekindle your romance.”

“At my age, I’d settle for regularity.”

“So what are you going to do for your 65th anniversary then?”

“Hilda wants a cruise so I’m going to give her a cruise. Have you heard of that fancy boat that cruises Clear Lake?”

“Don’t do that,” I urged. “Hilda has stood by your skinny, tightwad butt for more than six decades. She deserves…”

My rant was interrupted by the ringing of Eb’s cellphone. He picked up his phone, smiled and said, “Gotta take this call. Could be Publisher’s Clearing House.”

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