Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Contract Renewal 2011

My cell phone is ringing incessantly again - or incessant in proportion to the number of rings on which I've set it before the call is sent to voicemail. It must be between 4 and 6 rings and I could reset it to just 1 or 2 rings but now my ringtone is a ukelele tune to get me in the Aloha spirit for my upcoming vacation to Hawaii and I like to hear the whole tune.. The voicemail message indicator goes off and I check the "missed call" number; UNAVAILABLE. So it isn't one of the numerous debt collection calls for someone of the last name of Nguyen, who must have had this phone number until last year sometime. Those calls - with the assorted butcherie of the Nguyen name pronunciation - aggravated me no end. But this - this UNAVAILABLE number - is more disturbing. Especially since this is the 4th call today with the same number. I don't want to take the time to listen to the voicemail message, not right now, not in the middle of an otherwise perfectly mediocre day at work. I check my mail box in the office later in the day. Updated employee roster, check stub for electronic payment directly to my account, cell phone reimbursement check, notice of an upcoming seminar...all the usuals and one UNusual piece of mail - an overstuffed lavendar envelope with only my first name followed by my birthdate. A brief feeling of panic mixed with annoyance washes over me, but I don't have time to break into that envelope. Not right now. Not in the middle of a perfectly mediocre life. Driving out to see my last patient of the day, I glance at the billboards and road signs as I pass them at 68 MPH. McDonalds. Wanker Corners Store exit 1 mile. Oregon City Molalla Gladstone. Panera. And a new one, smaller, set closer to the highway. "Have You Renewed Your Contract Yet?" It is enigmatic, like those stupid Snickers ads two years ago or the fantastic Timbers billboards all over town. Those I like. "Have You Renewed Your Contract Yet?" I assume it's for cell phone service as my car and I whiz by. My work day approaches the end. I had to tell Mrs. Smith that her father is transitioning towards death. It was news she already new but still didn't want to hear. I wonder how I will react when it's my father or mother dying. I push through the traffic and head home. Had to get my mailbox key replaced this week, and the new key is a little sticky in the box. The door finally opens, and I pull out all the usuals; electric bill, grocer ads...and another damned lavendar envelope with only may name and birthdate on it. How in the hell...? My husband and I share a dinner that surpasses mediocre. He goes to bed early, and I settle in for a night of internet surfing. I open my email and count fifteen - FIFTEEN! - new emails from "Contract Renewal Specialists". Shit. Can't I get a few hours of peace? I move on to facebook...boring tales of other mediocre lives. I dream of Hawaii, my son, the surf, and hear a pleasant ukelele tune in the background. It takes a few seconds before I remember that it's my new cell phone tune. Oh. My. God. Can't a woman get any rest at all?! It is said that a coward dies a thousand deaths. Deciding not to put it off any longer, I push the button to answer the call but say nothing. There is absolute stillness on the other end, and then a man's deep voice asks, "Rhonda? Shusli?" I would like to think that my cousin in rehab has been granted one phone call and he chose to call me. That idea makes my codependent nature glow. But I really know better. I clear my throat and affirm my names to the caller. "We've been trying to contact you, Rhonda-Shusli. You DO know that it's time to renew your contract, don't you? We have less than a week to get everything filed. Are you ready?" I stare at the facebook computer screen for a full 30 seconds before answersing. "Yes. I suppose I am." (to be continued) " WRITER'S NOTE: NEW FORMAT, SORRY, HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO PARAGRAPHS!

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