By John R. Greenwood
|One of our many evening visits with Sallie|
"Is there a Jacob Greenwood there?"
"Can I speak with him please?"
"Do you know what time it is?"
"I'm sorry sir, can I just speak with Jacob? It's about his student loan."
"There is no Jacob living here. Please don't call here again!"
"Is there a better time to reach him?"
This game continued for days. Each call was an adventure. I don't mean because it was exciting. It was an adventure because the calls were coming from all over the world. At least that's what it sounded like. With each call the accent thickened. I'm pretty sure I could hear an elephant trumpeting in the background during one call. One night when I picked up the phone it sounded like they were calling from the trading floor of the NYSE.
I was getting weary of this game and one night Sallie Mae left a number on the machine. I called it back with all the patience I could muster. I waded through the quicksand of prompts like Lewis and Clark. I was so deep into the system I expected to see lava flowing at any moment. Finally the electronic voice promised me I was next and that a customer service representative would be with me in approximately two minutes. The Jeopardy music oozed through the line, do do do do do do do, do do do do dute da dute da do da.
"Hello, my name is Abby, can I have your account number?"
"I don't have an account number, I don't even have an account, that's why I'm calling."
"Can you give me your social security number? I'll see if I can find it that way."
After weeks of playing volleyball with Sallie Mae and her search for student loan deadbeat Jacob, I began to start twitching when the phone rang. I could see the obituary now-- He died of "unnecessary causes". You can send donations to Sallie Mae, a tax receipt will be provided upon request.
Finally one night after watching one half of Monday Night Football with the television on mute and me on hold I got through to a human with enough brain matter to understand my dilemma. I think she said her name was Angel. Angel not only promised she would take our number off the digital dialer, she also apologized for the inconvenience. I'm sure she was an animal lover too. She did whisper a fine print disclaimer just as I was hanging up the phone. She said there was an ever so slight chance that it might be a day or two before our number was deleted from the system completely.
I was so relieved that I instantly thought about popping the cork on a bottle of champagne- not the cheap stuff either.
The phone did seem to be happier for the next few days. Peace had returned to the valley.
Then it happened.
The phone rang one morning as we were leaving for work. I stopped in my tracks and waited for "The Voice."
Before the audio portion of the show could begin I peered over my wife's shoulder at the little ID screen on the phone. There in bright LED blue were the two words that all unemployed college graduates dread more than work itself, "Sallie Mae" 1-800-Soprano. This was not a good way to begin your work day. Someone could get fired over a women called Sallie Mae.
I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I would make one more call after work and get this nightmare settled once and for all. When we got home I prepared for my journey to the abyss. I began dialing 1-800- Arg-gghh and for the umpteenth time I dug deeper and deeper into phone prompt hell until I reached Sallie Mae's Angel #2. In a voice as tranquil as the call of a distant song bird she assured me she would solve my problem- she just needed a little more information. My pills were kicking in. I was at peace. I responded, "Sure."
"Can you give us Jacob's new address?"
Somewhere in the world there is a Jacob Greenwood on the student loan lamb. He's running from Sallie Mae like Dr. Richard Kimble.
Sleep tight Jacob...