John Washington Thinks I’m A Bitch
I was brushing my teeth, and didn’t hear the phone ring over the rush of the water. I did hear my husband’s voice, but I thought he was talking to the cats. When I came into the bedroom, I was somewhat surprised to see him on the phone, seeing as it was 11:30 at night. Only somewhat surprised, though—he has family two time zones away who occasionally call us at odd hours.
And then it became clear he was not talking to his family. “Yeah, I bet,” he said sarcastically. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t believe you for a minute, I do not give you permission to come here tomorrow—got that?—and I’m not an American citizen, so I couldn’t accept it anyway.” He leaned over and slammed the receiver down (one of the few advantages to landline phones).
“What was that?” I asked.
Richard rolled his eyes. “Some scam artist. We were randomly selected in some lottery somewhere, and we’ve won a prize, and he wants to come over and deliver it tomorrow. Uh-huh.”
The phone rang again.
Richard made no move to pick it up, apparently wanting it to go to the machine. Which was probably the right way to handle it. I don’t know quite what got into me.
I plucked the receiver off the stand and said “Yes?” in an unfriendly manner.
“Mrs. Soapsuds?” said a male voice, speaking in an accent so thick I could hardly make out the words.
“Yes?” I said.
“Mrs. Soapsuds, I was just speaking with your husband. Mrs. Soapsuds, you have been selected as the winner in a drawing in Las Vegas, Nevada…”
“Yeah, right,” I said.
“… it is the truth, Mrs. Soapsuds. I must come to your house tomorrow to deliver…”
“If anyone comes to this house tomorrow, I will call the police,” I said.
“So will I,” the voice said.
“I too will call the police. I will bring the police too.” With this left-hand turn into the Twilight Zone, I stopped feeling angry and threatened, and just felt amused. I decided to have some fun. “It is very important that I deliver you your package. This is no scam. It is my job. I must at least tell you the details of what you have won…”
“Okay,” I said, getting out a pen and settling in, “tell me some details. And I’ll check them out on the internet and see if you’re telling the truth. What’s your name?”
“Yes, your name.”
“My name, it is John Washington.”
“Uh-huh,” I said. I wrote it down. “Where are you calling from, John Washington?”
“Las Vegas. Las Vegas in Nevada.”
“What company do you work for in Nevada, John Washington?”
“I work for UPS Delivery Service. In Florida.”
“Now you’re telling me you’re calling from Florida?”
“No, company headquarters is in Florida.” (It isn’t, in case you’re wondering. I checked.)
“And is it the customary practice of UPS in Florida to conduct business at nearly midnight?”
“No, no, I am calling you because it is very important that you have won this prize. I am sorry to be disturbing you and your husband and interrupting your time this evening, but—”
I interrupted him. “What number are you calling from?”
“856,” he said. (Which isn’t a Nevada number, in case you’re wondering. I checked.) “XXX. YYY.”
I waited. “Is there another number on the end of that, John Washington, or do Nevada numbers only have nine digits?”
“Had to think hard to come up with that, didn’t you, John Washington?” I slid the piece of paper over to Richard, who got out his cell phone and dialed it. “You’re not very good at making all this up, John Wash—”
He interrupted me. “Listen. Listen, I need to ask you questions. May I ask you questions?”
That startled me into almost a laugh. “No, you can’t ask me questions—you called my phone! Twice! I’ll ask the questions. Who sent me the package?”
That time I didn’t quite understand him. “My brother in Pasadena?” I repeated.
“No, the government of Pasadena. Listen—”
“To which address will you be delivering this package tomorrow? What’s the address on the package, John Washington?”
Again, I didn’t completely understand him, but I got the part of the sentence where he said his colleague would look it up. “Now I ask questions. I have to ask questions or I am not doing my job. You talk too much. You let me ask you questions now.”
In the background, I could hear Richard apologizing for waking some guy in New Jersey.
“Okay,” I said, wanting to keep John Washington on the phone a moment or two longer. “Ask me a question. And then I’ll decide if I want to answer it.”
“Are you an American citizen?”
“Where were you born, John Washington?”
A pause. “Where was I born? Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn.”
“Uh-huh,” I said.
“Listen to me, this is very important. Are you an American citizen?”
“I’ll tell you that when you tell me where you’re going to deliver the package tomorrow.”
“We are looking it up now.”
“That’s a real slow internet connection, isn’t it, John Washington?”
“I am nearby. I am staying in Holiday Inn in your town.”
“A Holiday Inn in my town? What town is that?” He didn’t answer. “What’s the weather like in my town right now, John Washington? What does it look like outside the Holiday Inn you’re staying at? And I thought you were calling from Nevada?”
Richard closed his phone with a click. “This is the number of an old man in New Jersey,” he told me gleefully.
“Did you hear that, John Washington?” I asked the phone. “We just called the number you gave us, and it wasn’t your number at all. So I guess you don’t work for UPS, do you? I guess that means you’re a liar, doesn’t it, John Washington? You’re a liar and a scam artist. And I bet you have a really tiny dick, don’t you? You do have a really tiny little dick. Because if you were a real man, you’d have a real job, instead of trying to make money calling people in the middle of the night.”
“Listen, bitch—” he began.
“‘Listen, bitch?’” I repeated, grinning. “Richard, he just called me a bitch! I must have made him angry! Did I make oo angwy?” I crooned into the phone. “Is oo all angwy now? You’re not used to being talked to that way, are you? You and your teeny-weeny widdle dick.”
Richard was at this point laughing so hard I thought he was going to sprain something. On the phone, John Washington said something so incoherently furious I couldn’t follow it. When invited to repeat himself, he gave me to understand that he would shut my filthy mouth for me.
“A threat!” I said, delighted. “Oh, that’s fantastic. Well done.” At this point, we belatedly realized it would be a good plan to record this, so Richard hurried downstairs to see if he could make the answering machine do it. I tried to get our caller to repeat himself. “Let’s go through this again, John Washington. You say you work for UPS and you’re calling me from Las Vegas, Nevada?” No answer. “Oh, come on, John Washington. Aren’t you there any more? You didn’t just let me win, did you, John Washington?”
“I think you won, babe,” Richard called up the stairs. “I think he hung up.” He came back to the bedroom and stood looking down at me. “You have the biggest shit-eating grin on your face,” he observed.
I primly replaced the receiver. “I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun,” I said. “I hope he calls back.”
He didn’t. (Because I won.) So I didn’t get the opportunity to tell him how much I had enjoyed his call. Hence this article. If you’re reading, John Washington, I want you to know I appreciated the entertainment… and you should look into some other line of work, because you’re not smart enough to be a phone phisher.