|Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming...|
The previous owners of my number have moved on to newer sexier numbers. They are presumably happy in their lives and not being pestered by people looking for me.
I'm not so lucky.
For the past year I have been getting regular calls from what I'm guessing are debt collection agencies for a guy called Scott and a girl called Nicola.
I have no wish to out them by giving their second names as I have a sneaking admiration for their ability to confound these ghouls, these dealers in misery who enjoy their jobs just too much.
So let's call her Nicola Bumface.
A Brian called last night interrupting my viewing of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Big mistake.
"Hello, could I speak to Nicola Bumface please?"
Brian had a flat angry Manchester drawl and was clearly fed up so I thought I would cheer him up.
"Yes, hello I'm Nicola, can I help?"
"You don't sound like a girl," he droned suspiciously.
"I know, you see Brian I'm half way through a gender realignment process and the hormones are changing my voice. It seems to be working. I've always wanted to be a man ever since I realised the world likes them more .
"You can call me Nick. What can I do for you anyway?"
"Erm OK, sorry to hear that."
"Why are you sorry? I'm delighted. Once these breasts shrink I plan to celebrate by grunting my way to the pub."
"OK," you could tell he was suspicious but he struggled on.
"I need to ask you some security questions."
"Oh, OK. Well I have two locks, a security chain, an alarm called Alan and a cat called Algernon that would rip your eye out in seconds without a thought. A guy can't be to careful."
"No you misunderstand me. I need to know your date of birth and the first line of your address and postcode."
"Oh really? What on earth for? I have always been told not to give out that information."
"I need to establish who you are?"
"I've just spent three years in counselling trying to establish who I am and I decided I want to be a man. I don't truly know what I am yet Brian but I can see myself in the mirror and I can tell you I am who I said I am, apart from a few gorgeous hairs on my chin."
"No no," he interrupted. "I need to know you are who you say you are, for security purposes."
"Given what I am going through do you think it's fair to be questioning my identity? Why would you do that to me? Who are you and why are you calling me? Are you one of them trolls I have heard about?"
"No no, I'm sorry Nicola ..."
"Sorry Nick. I need to establish that you are the Nicola Bumface I'm looking for."
"Why are there lots of us?"
"I don't know."
"What's it like being a fella then Brian?"
"I'm sorry what?"
"You know, how cool is it being a bloke?"
"Listen I just need to know that you are Nicola Bumface."
"Oh how embarrassing, no I'm Nicola Pishface. Oh how awkward. I could ask around, see if anyone knows this Bumface for you. Do you fancy meeting up?"
He hung up. If these cowards didn't ring on an unknown number I would have called Brian back and asked him if he was OK and if he had a sister that I could chance my muscular arm with.
People need to pay their way for society to work and I understand money needs collected but debt collection staff are an ugly bunch of people.
Uncompromising tinpot Hitlers. Like mean, intransigent traffic wardens loving their little bit of power in their tiny kingdoms, their sinister hold on people's lives.
They are faceless bullies working for equally faceless clients with no knowledge of the struggle people are having staying afloat.
They care not who is on the receiving end of their vengeful threatening bile either by phone or letter.
Be it the serial scum constantly trying to sneak a con or a busy forgetful mum living hand to mouth, their vicious greed is constant.
Be it a vulnerable pensioner behind on their council tax in a bid to heat their homes or a desperate dad trying to make ends meet while burying his head in the sand, they don't give a shit as long as the call ends with a frightened promise to pay.
These people are monsters. The worst kind, mean and unforgiving with a sad love of the pain and anxiety they peddle.
They are getting busier thanks, in a woeful irony, to the greedy incompetence of their banking paymasters.
They may be just doing their jobs but they are still monsters.
Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming.