Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I rolled my eyes. This was the fourth time this week Sallie Mae had called me. I had not yet discovered the correct combination of words that would unlock their trust in me and so here I was, answering all the same questions again.

"No. Yes. Yes. No."

It used to get my angry. Now it just bored me.

"No," I said. "I can't pay you right now. I can pay you on Friday. I get paid on Friday. Please, check your records. I have never skipped a payment. I've been late, but I've never . . . Yes, I'll hold."

Sometimes, when they put me on hold, I'll set down my phone and walk away. Invariably, by the time I've come back to my phone, the conversation has ended.

"Is this Thomas," a new voice asked.

"Scott, actually."


"My first name's Thomas, but I go by Scott."

"How do you spell that," the voice asked very sincerely.

"'Scott?'" I wondered aloud. How many ways could there be to spell Scott?

"Yes sir."

"S as in Scott. C as in Cot. O as in Oh. T as in Tea and T as in Tee."


"Yeah, I know I'm not funny. My wife tells me every day."

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