Everyone Who’s Ever Sold You Insurance is a Weirdo

Given my dirtbag upbringing, Lolita years, and eventual downward spiral of becoming a musician, I’ve spent a lot of time around weirdos and scumbags.

I’ve had to say, “Is this the bathroom door?” while pointing at a piece of moldy plywood that’s been propped up against a large hole in a wall.

I’ve had to say, “Cool python, Wack Max, but can you wait until after I leave to feed that rabbit to him?”

I’ve had to say, “Don’t mind me!” to a group of people shooting heroin in a kitchen so that I could reach into the fridge to grab a leftover rack of ribs.  Hey – they were from Bobby Rubino’s and I was really hungry from all that acid I had taken!

That being said…

Nothing could prepare me for the kind of weirdos that I would encounter in the years that I worked in insurance offices.

My truly fabulous mother-in-law just retired from the insurance business this month, so this one goes out to her.  Happy retirement, Patrice!  (She is the lone exception in the case of insurance weirdos.)

So!  Without further adieu, here is a non-exhaustive sampling of insurance coworker weirdos, because if I had to list all of them here, we would be here for five years still listing them off.  And I’m limiting it to coworkers, because if I even started to get into weird customers, this would go on for the rest of our lives.

Richie Sambora Guy:  This guy was not a fan of Bon Jovi – he was a fan of Richie Sambora, the guitar player from Bon Jovi.  His first day of work, he asked me, with his jaw clenched, if I thought Richie Sambora was “the most gifted guitar player of all time” so I, of course, said yes.  Because I could tell this guy was a *psycho*.  All he talked about, all day, every day, was how awesome Richie Sambora was and how unfair it was that Jon Bon Jovi got all the attention in the band.

When customers would come in and sit at his desk, he would casually ask, “So, what do you think about Richie Sambora?” and when they would say, “Who?  Is he an agent here?” or “He’s allright?” he would start flinging papers across his desk and stammering, “Well, I guess people are entitled to their own opinions!”

Old Woman Who 100% Stalked Me:  This woman not only rifled through my desk and my trashcan every night after I left work, listened in on my phone calls, and once asked me if she could go through my purse “out of curiosity”, but she used to peer into my car windows in the parking garage on her lunch break, and then come back into the office and question me about items that I had in my car.  “What’s with the frisbee I saw peeking out from under your jacket on the passenger side floorboard of your backseat?  And that phone bill has been sitting on your front seat for over a week now, I hope you don’t get a late fee.”  Good point, WEIRDO.  Who likes late fees, right?

Santana and Rob Thomas “Smooth” Woman:  Anytime this song would come on the radio, this woman would crank it up to 10 and angrily shush anyone who so much as uttered a sound for the duration of the song – including customers who were sitting at her desk asking questions about their homeowner’s insurance policy.  “Shhhhh!!!!” with a glare.  Every time it came on.  For two years.  When that song first came out, it was on like five times a day.

And speaking of!  Santana “Oye Como Va” Guy:  After a coworker who he didn’t like quit, this guy celebrated by pulling a Casio keyboard out of his desk drawer and playing Santana’s “Oye Como Va” on it, over and over.  A move I would have totally respected…

…except then he just started doing it anytime business was slow.  Every time he finished playing “Oye Como Va” he would say, “Would you rather hear some Billy Preston?”  Then I would say, “Yes!  Please!” then he would play “Oye Como Va” again.  (Please note, this was a completely separate insurance workplace and this guy was in no way affiliated with “Smooth” woman.)

Man Who Couldn’t Stop Talking About His Butthole and How Totally Not Gay He Was:  Within my first fifteen minutes at this job, the boss made sure to tell me, appropos of nothing, that his “butthole had a sign on it that said, “Exit Only!” and then laughed about it like the Joaquin Phoenix Joker for a full ten seconds before deadpanning, “I’m not gay.”

Then he reminded me of this butthole/not gay fact thirty minutes later.  And then another five times over the course of the morning.  I refused to laugh anytime he said it, prompting him to ask me where my “sense of humor was located.”

Had I thought of it at the time, I would have responded, “I would say your butthole, but I’ve heard that it’s “Exit Only.”

I worked at this office for half of one day before picking up my purse, pretending that I was just going to lunch, and then never returning.

Woman Who Looked Exactly Like Matilda The Hun from the Original G.L.O.W. Who Would Pick Up The Picture on My Desk of Me and My Sisters and Say The Filthiest Things Because She Didn’t Know That I Knew Enough Spanish to Know What She Was Saying:  I won’t even repeat the things she said.  They were straight-up, Larry Flynt would blush, absolute filth about what she wanted to do to me and my sisters.  She’d say this stuff and then lick her perpetually chapped, mustachioed lips and mouth-breathe at me, right at my desk, in my face. I never let on that I understood almost every word she said, because I did not want her to confuse this with “interest” on my part and then try to make me be her prison bitch. 

When she wasn’t standing at my desk, she used to stare at me from across the office while she squeezed Walgreens-brand petroleum jelly onto her finger out of a cap-less tube that she kept in a Ziploc bag, and then smear it on her mouth and go, “Mmmmm.”

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Come to think of it, I’d never seen her and Matilda the Hun in the same room at the same time…

Also, she had her car repossessed from our parking lot on her first day of work, but that’s really neither here nor there.  Just an item of interest, it being her first day and all, as she was yelling, “You’re lucky my gun is still in New York, pendejo!” to the finance guy on the phone.

Please feel free to share your workplace weirdos in the comments, and then we will all laugh at their expense because we’re petty and mean-spirited.  Or is that just me?

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Do you enjoy this crapola?  Click the Follow button if you do, and you’ll get a nifty email anytime I post this crapola.  If you don’t enjoy this crapola, might I recommend that you go into the insurance business?  You will meet some quality, non-weird people there.

“I’ve never bagged a babe.  I’m not a stud.” – Farmer Ted, Sixteen Candles

The Rotten Mango Smell of Spite

I’ll never forget the day that I gripped that phone and said, “Oh yeah? Well, then you’re never gonna see another dime from me again. Ever.”

Imaginary TV camera zooms in on my mouth, “Evvveeeerrrrr.”

That, dear friends, was the day I ruined my credit purely out of spite.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that spite isn’t an addictive and dangerous drug. When I think back on the things I’ve done purely out of spite over the years, I get a noticeable rush of dopamine in my brain. It’s like Romeo seeing Juliet for the first time, but it’s me remembering that time I rubbed rotten mango all over that skank’s car windows under the dark cover of Florida night after she called me a “drunk trailer trash slut”.  I didn’t even live in a trailer!

I was drunk, though, so that part was probably fair.  And also a slut.

It took days to get the smell of rotten mango off my hands.

Worth it!

I grew up in a household that didn’t have access to credit. This meant that any time an unexpected bill, say from an emergency room visit, was overdue and they threatened to turn the account over to a collection agency, the stock answer to them was, “Throw it on the pile!” and then you hung up the phone.

That was how I learned to manage unplanned debt, anyway. Tell them to throw it on the pile.

When I was a kid, all the adults I knew lived without credit cards, drove junkers and didn’t have car loans, and already had mortgages, so what the hell were the bill collectors going to do to them? Nobody checked credit for job applications or anything like that. So screw it. Take that bill that you can’t afford to pay, and tell the collection agency to chuck it onto the pile with all the other bills you can’t pay. What are they going to do? Throw you in debtor’s prison?

This resulted in many attempted deliveries of certified letters to my house when I was growing up, as you may have previously read about in my piece Proof of Deliverance in The New Southern Fugitives earlier this year. That was a fun one to write, and I chuckled my way pretty much through the whole thing when I was writing it.

That being said, it’s a crappy, stressful way to live, dodging bill collectors. When I became an adult and finally managed to get somebody to give me a credit card, I decided that I was going to be really, really good with it.

I was going to break the family cycle of: No Money? No Credit? All problems!

I had a $300 limit and somewhere around 24% interest rate with that first card. A rate that high should be illegal, and it’s basically setting poor people up to fail, by the way.  I used my card responsibly and paid my bill every month on-time for years. They raised my little $300 limit a couple times each year, higher and higher, and my credit score was improving every month. My interest rate stayed at 24%.

Then, years later, it happened. The phone call.

I was sitting at work when my phone rang. It was a customer service rep at my credit card company telling me that I had missed that month’s payment. I knew this was impossible, seeing as I paid it well before it was due every month. I made it my personal policy to pay it the day after I received the bill, even though it wasn’t due for weeks after that.

I told her the date I paid it and the check number. I went online to see if the check had cleared through my bank.

It had not.

I told her I had never made a late payment, not in the eight years that I’d had the card at that point, and it must have gotten lost in the mail. I was a solid customer! I begged her to waive the late fee, waive the now over-the-limit fee, and not jack-up my already insane interest rate.

No dice. She wouldn’t budge. Not only would I have to pay a small fortune in penalties, but now my interest rate would be permanently somewhere around one trillion percent.

I was so angry. Angry that I had worked so hard to keep good credit and to pay my bill on time, and that one single lost payment somehow was going to derail everything.

So I…let’s call it…

…regressed?

All the way back to childhood. Like a cornered, dirty possum.

I gripped the phone and said, “Oh yeah? Well, then you’re never gonna see another dime from me again. Ever. Evvveeerrrr.”

And they never did, either.

I spent the next seven years dodging their calls, refusing to sign for their certified letters, and watching the amount that I owed them multiply over and over with interest and penalties every time they sold it off to another collection agency. I had originally owed them a total of just under $1,500 for everything. Now they claimed I owed them more than $13,000.  I eventually told them I would be willing to pay the damn $1,500 if they would close the case and leave me alone.  Nope!  The lowest amount they would settle for was TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

What did I do? I waited them out. This is not good financial advice, for the record.

As a fully regressed dirtbag kid, I knew my debt was small potatoes compared to a lot of folks at the time. This was peak recession. It would be extremely unlikely that they would spend the money to come after me in court for it. I also knew that in my state if they hadn’t filed a lawsuit against me after five years, then they would forfeit their ability to do so. I celebrated that day when I passed the five-year mark with a can of Miller High Life the size of my head.

I also knew it could only stay on my credit for seven years and so long as I didn’t send them even $10, that BS $13,000 debt was going to expire whether they liked it or not. (If you make even the tiniest little payment on a debt like that, it starts the clock over from that date, and then it’s a brand new five- and seven-year deal. That’s why bill collectors try to get you to even send them $10.  It resets the clock.  If you want to know everything about debt collection laws in your state, talk to the poorest person you know.)

I was fortunate that, at the time, I already had a car, was renting my house from my mother, and had the same job. What the hell did I need good credit for? You know what they said in my household growing up! Throw it on the pile!

Little did I know that exactly one month after it finally fell off my credit report, at age 35, I would unexpectedly need to rent an apartment for the first time, apply for a new job a month after that, and six months after that, finance a new car. All of which required a credit check. If my life circumstances had changed even a month or two earlier than they did, I would have been completely screwed. I would have been homeless, jobless, and car-less over one stupid credit card.

It would be easy to say that dodging that debt all worked out in the end, but I lived in a house of cards for seven years waiting it out. It was constantly hanging over my head – and lord knows, they called me every single day. They sent letters several times a week. They still call me all these years later and threaten me with legal action at least once a month, even though the debt is legally non-collectable. I figure that even if I live to be 150 years old, my last words will be to some damn collection agency over that damn credit card.

I rebuilt my credit over the last eight years, and now, finally, I have good credit again.  I pay off both of my cards every month and make sure my payment clears every time.

The biggest lesson I learned? If one of my credit card companies calls me to tell me that my payment is late, I’ll either fight my way up the chain until I can make someone fix it, or suck it up and pay the initial penalties, even though it’s total bullshit.

But, oh, the spite opportunities. When I think of the spite, I can almost smell the rotten mango on my hands.  Capital One’s car windows would be SO jacked up right now.

Nobody Wants to Watch That 5-Minute Long Video on Your Phone

I say this with absolute confidence.

If you’re thinking, “But!  But!” then you’re one of the offenders and nobody has had the heart to tell you.

So here it is:  Put the phone down and back away slowly.

I was recently minding my own business (for a change), walking down the hall while mentally humming “Staying Alive” (because that’s the only way to strut and make it look natural), when I was accosted by someone who said those words everybody dreads:

“Oh my god, you have to see this video.  It’s so crazy!”

Then they made me watch a five minute long video of their cousin’s wedding reception where nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – of interest happened.  I could feel my ankles swelling, that’s how long I was standing there.

Let’s be 100% crystal clear here.  I can only fake my way through so many utterances of, “Oh, wow!  That’s crazy!” before I start to feel cheap and and ashamed and lose respect for myself.

I say this as a person who didn’t even start to lose respect for herself all those years in the 90s when I would get free CDs from bands by sticking their CD to my bare midriff and then undulating like a belly dancer without the CD falling off, so the bar is already pretty low.

I say this as a person who didn’t feel cheap when she used to wear a thrift store polyester orange hot pants romper to festival concerts and tell young men to refer to me as “Tangerine Dreamy”.

I say this as someone whose best friend kicked someone out of the way so that I could grab Kip Winger’s bass pick off the floor at a Winger concert and then I waved it around like it was Simba in the Lion King.  No shame felt.  Not an ounce.

I somehow – somehow – made it to the end of the wedding reception video while, sadly, unsuccessfully trying to dive into a nearby potted plant.

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Almost fit.

Not wanting to tempt fate, the moment it was over I started to lightly jog away from this person.  I figured it would be worth the asthma attack if I could actually get away from them. If they couldn’t tell how desperate I was to get away during the first video, who knew what else they had in store for me?

Which is why this person then said:

“Hang on, before you go, let me see if I can pull the video up from the bachelorette party!”

Oh god, no.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  If I wanted to watch a video of a bunch of skanks I’ve never met, and will never meet, standing on top of a banquette at some nightclub that can best be described as “Axe Body Spray in The Form of a Building” wearing iridescent fake wieners as unicorn horns, satin sashes that says “Slut Number One” and “Slut Number Two” and badly twerking to “Blurred Lines”, I would go to the nearest swingers club next to a Trump rally that just let out.

Now, if you happen to have that YouTube video on your phone of that super fat cat who busts out the side of that shoe box with his big body, I’m game for that.  Anytime.  That video is literally two seconds long AND it also features a cat with a fat body, which will never, ever get old for me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, their health, blah blah, pets shouldn’t be overweight LEMME SQUOZE THAT FAT CAT BODY.

Sometimes I stare off into space, thinking about all the fat cat bodies out there, and trying to figure out how I can arrange my life in such a way that I can make a living out of squozing them.  This is America, in the year of 2019.  Anything is supposed to be possible.

If I were a millennial, I would ask you to donate money to me for to reach this goal, but I’m a Gen-Xer, so I prefer to just complain about it and take little to no action.