It’s generally understood that I’m not a smart person. At the very least, I am a reckless one.
I figured this out by the time I was in third grade. It was then that whatever is still wrong with me took over in a big way.
Hint: If you have a kid you even remotely suspect might be capable of peeing in a teacher’s purse while doing a timeout in a coat closet, act now.
Here’s the thing: Despite a low IQ and towering impulsiveness, I’ve never sent money to anyone who contacted me via phone. Not a single time.
At least part of the reason is that I don’t trust people in general — not just because some of them are bad, but because we’re the only creatures on earth that can lie even to themselves and believe it.
More to the point, I don’t trust anyone on the phone who can barely speak English, or anyone who sends me an email begging for money to help fight for the fundamental right to life of carp and cockroaches.
That doesn’t stop them from asking me for money in the most pitiable or threatening ways imaginable.
Last week, I got a call from some government agency. I don’t know which one, but I doubt it was the Office of Properly Spoken English. I stopped paying attention after:
Caller • “Meestair Kooby, to you I am calling today about an arrest warrant from the agency of …”
Me • “Yeah? Come and get me.”
While I’ve never been to these countries, I am sure there are many fine people in India, Nigeria, Pakistan or wherever. So my parody of the caller’s accent shouldn’t be seen as an ethnic insult. It’s actually part of a valid point.
There are call centers in these countries — some of which do not have running water or restroom breaks for employees — completely dedicated to robbing unwary Americans.
A warrant for my arrest? Really? I’ve been on the other side of this warrant service thing. I know anyone who actually had a warrant for my arrest — and it’s entirely possible even now — would be able to speak clear and threatening English.
They wouldn’t call either. They would ring the doorbell or kick in the door. And they’d have backup.
Reportedly, these foreign scammers cost Americans millions of dollars a year. How is it that seemingly normal people will send off thousands of dollars to someone who phoned them about something so important yet can’t speak clear English?
My guess is it’s because they’re getting the scammer calls from people who sound exactly like the customer service help at most major and legitimate companies.
Note: I know there are scammers in this country who speak perfect English. It’s the ones who don’t and get away with it who amaze me.
Business must be good because the calls never stop. I just got another one.
Caller • “Meestair Robert, I am calling from the IRS to you to inform of an extra special warrant …”
Me • “My goodness. Of course I will send the money. I just need a mailing address.”
The plan was to send an IOU and some Monopoly money, but Agent Flipflop refused to give me a mailing address. He got frustrated, said “[bad words],” and hung up.
That was more evidence that he was a fake. No employee of an actual government agency would hang up if you legitimately owed money to it. They’d keep you on the line until the cops got there.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.