Today I got a phone call at work from some company that sells graduation caps and gowns. This call was immediately filed under the telemarketer category in my mind because the bookstore I manage has always and I suspect will always buy graduation caps and gowns from the Microsoft of graduation matters we all know as Jostens.
When the telemarketer asked me if the person responsible for making cap and gown buying decisions was available, I told her "no." This was not a lie. I'm not responsible for making that decision. However, when the woman on the line asked me the name of whoever makes that decision, I lied. I am unbelievably bad at thinking on my feet when it comes to false information. See, the reason I lied was that I didn't want to have to dig up the contact info of whoever makes that decision because I have no idea who it is. So, in a moment of brilliance, I told her that the name of the person who makes that decision is "Kisa."
I can't stop laughing as I'm writing this. Who, when attempting to avoid taking responsibility for something, falsely gives her own name as the responsible party? See, my thinking was that if I gave the name of any other employee, the telemarketer would call back asking for that person. And why not just tell her the truth: that nobody on site makes that decision? It would even have been the easiest thing to say.
Then the lady asked when "Kisa" might be available, and I told her that "Kisa" would be in the following afternoon. What kind of strategy is this? So when she calls back tomorrow I'm gonna pretend to be "Kisa"?
And the thing was, I noticed this kind of hesitation in the woman's voice, this kind of, "uh, okaaaay." I was thinking, 'how can she tell I'm lying? I can tell she can tell. But how does she know?!"
It was then that I remembered the very first part of the conversation, the part where I answered the phone and identified myself by name. The part before I knew I'd be lying to this woman in the very near future.
So a transcript of our little chat would look about like this:
Me: Thank you for calling NDNU bookstore. This is Kisa. How can I help you?
Her: I'm so-and-so from so-and-so cap and gown company. Is the person who makes the cap and gown buying decision available?
Me: Uh, no. She's not in right now.
Her: Oh. Could you tell me who that person might be?
Me: Yeah. Her name's Kisa.
Her: Okay, and uh, when will she be in?
Me: She'll be in tomorrow afternoon.
About 2o things went through my mind in the time it took for this conversation to transpire. I thought of when I'd be able to talk to her again, what would happen if I gave her a totally fake name, who really would make that decision, etc.. And in all that thinking and scheming, that's what I came up with...that I would be in tomorrow afternoon.
So it looks like I'll be talking to her again. Wonder if she'd give me up for a lunatic if I answered the phone without identifying myself, then when she asked for Kisa, I said, "Sure, could I put you on hold for a second?" then covered the mouthpiece with my hand, coughed, and then answered in an obviously and badly altered fake voice: "Uh, this is Kisa."
I think I'll try that.
This incident called to mind another from a few years back that involved my feeble attempts to fake someone out on the phone. Just before I graduated with my bachelor's degree, I was dirt poor and behind on my Discover card payment. I came home one afternoon to find a carefully written message from my roommate Lisa. It gave the name and number of somebody from Discover and said they'd requested I return the call. In all my then-financially irresponsible evasiveness, I did not return the call.
I was home alone the following afternoon when the same woman from Discover called back. "May I please speak with Kisa?" she asked.
"Um, she's not here right now. Can I take a message?"
"Sure, to whom am I speaking?"
Trying to stick close to what could be a true story, I said this: "Uh, this is her roommate, Lisa."
Amazing little record keepers there at Discover. She replied with, "Oh, I believe I left a message with you yesterday."
And this is where it gets really dumb. In that moment, I thought of the dilligence with which Lisa had taken that message and I felt guilty for letting this woman think that Lisa had neglected to perform her roommate secretarial duties. Lisa is one of the most responsible women I've ever known. I couldn't misrepresent her this way!
So my solution was this line: "Oh, no, you must have talked to my girlfriend. Her name is also Lisa."
Which met with this now-common response: "Uh, okaaay."
We ended it there. And the funny part is, the story was not as far-fetched as it seems. I really did have a roommate named Lisa, and Lisa's girlfriend at the time was also named Lisa (rare but sometimes occuring homosexual relationship phenomenon).
I hung up the phone and put these imagined words in the mind of the Discover lady: 'Man, this girl is so lame, she can only think of one other name in the whole world to lie with, and it's a name that rhymes with her own name?!'
And today proved that the reality is even worse than that. I can't even think of a rhyming one anymore. Cheesh.