I have no use for the phone anymore. Almost all the calls I get are from bogus charities that prey on poor people, elderly folks, and anyone who has ever fallen for one of their scams in the past. Sometimes, I get calls from those fake charities three times a day.
I get calls from my Internet company trying to sell me their phone service, and the phone company trying to sell me TV and Internet. I have TV along with my Internet but no TV set, cuz believe it or not, if I add TV, it’s cheaper! Go figure. So they always call me and tell me to buy TV movie specials…sorry, I have no big screen, no little screen, either, and no interest in spending big bucks to get one.
Oh yes, calls from the pharmacy. An automated voice. Time to refill my prescription. My prescription is available for pickup. And so on. Never a real person. Press one for yes. Two for no.
And the so-called “credit card service.” Another animated voice, a woman claiming she will lower my bills. I hang up. I wonder what, exactly, that one is about. I think it’s from Florida. There’s some “opt-out” option, but I figure it’s “opt-in” so I don’t press it.
DO NOT CALL apparently doesn’t mean much.
The saddest of all are two of my undergraduate colleges that have caught up with me. I was so thrilled to be included on Emerson College’s and Bennington College’s mailing lists. Naturally, I glance through the alumni publications for news on people I might have known. Now, I seem to be on mailing lists for both of these colleges. I read about how they are developing their programs and the art, theater, film, music, and literature productions going on all over the place, and special events just for alumni. I read about student and alumni achievements, and faculty achievements and awards, and new administrators taking the helm.
So here’s where the phone comes into play. Yeah, I get calls from my old colleges, Bennington and Emerson. The first one was thrilling. It was from Emerson. Wow. I thought she was asking me how I was doing or something, maybe inviting me to some event.
Asking me for money? Me?
And again. And again.
I can no longer afford it. Thankfully, the month is about over now, and my SSI check will arrive Friday, because the first is Sunday. Checks arrive the day before if the first is a non-bank day. My SSDI check, the larger one, is the third, not until Tuesday. Sunday’s check is already spent, or, rather, planned out. So a student volunteer from Bennington called last night. I felt bad saying no, but I had to.
Wait a minute. What the freak have these colleges done for me since I left, anyway? It’s pretty damn sad. Has anyone, anyone at all from Emerson been in touch, except to ask for money? Absolutely not a soul. Not a damn one of them.
You know something? I really loved it there. Emerson is a very conservative school, but I worked my ass off in those classes. I remember doing a lot of reading and being in some very exciting classes. I loved the instructors. Each of them had a different style of teaching. I was thrilled about many of the projects I worked on. I worked for hours at the library. I remembered showing up a the library wicked early in the morning and studying and studying and studying like mad.
Hey Emerson, do you know where I came from? I came from the Forbidden Path of one of the creepiest mental hospitals in existence! I came from the ashes and bowels of the Tunnels! I rolled out of McLean Hospital, got swept down the Charles River, and landed on Boyston Street right at the Adult Degree Program office! Tee hee hee.
You know, it was really weird at graduation. I was standing there after the ceremony. Me, my brother, Joe, and my mom. Just us there. A whole huge crowd under a tent. We just sort of stood there and I felt real dumb because no one came around or anything. I had hoped that maybe I’d see one of my instructors or something, and I’d have someone I could introduce my family to. Nobody. Just a crowd bustling around, and us standing there all isolated by ourselves, knowing no one. We stood around, took pictures of each other, and left.
But I got into a tizzy over Bennington last night after talking to that student. It was bad, bad, bad when I left Bennington. There was no ADA back then. I had this instructor at Bennington, this awesome teacher, named…never mind. He was great. He was a composition teacher and to me, he was God on Highest. He was a bit temperamental, though, so there were times that you had to put up with a bit of BS if he was in one of his moods. I think he drank some, but when I was that young, I mean like age twenty to, say, twenty-three, I was clueless about that sort of thing.
Anyway, this particular composition instructor, well, there were a whole bunch of those guys in the Music Division, or so it was called, the whole faculty, they held me in real high esteem. I’d say I was very highly respected. Like the students, too. When I said something, it meant something. My opinion mattered. People listened to me. I was considered a great composer, super talented, promising career, bound for success. I remember showing up for faculty meetings, cuz students were occasionally invited to some of the meetings that were like these open meetings, and they would say, “Let’s hear what JULIE has to say.”
Hey, you guys in the mental health profession, did you read that last paragraph? That stuff about respect?
Okay, that was me in 1980, 1981. The Music Division didn’t know that I had a handful of secrets. Namely, eating disorder. They didn’t have to know. I was pretty damn good at covering things up. Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I left school. Had to give them some sort of explanation.
I told them the truth. Sort of. Said I had to see a shrink. I said I had psych problems.
Bam. Switcheroo. Maybe I never, ever saw that respect ever, ever again. Ever. I was shunned by the entire school. Mocked. Treated with complete disdain. Scorned. It was horrible. You wouldn’t believe it. The things people said. Patronizing. It was like the entire town was doing it. Bennington is a gossipy town, trust me. There is this orchestra I was in that was like half town, half college, and the entire orchestra treated me like I was Welfare scum, the lowest of the low, no longer deserving of their notice in any way. People turned their backs. Just horrible.
So now they want money?
That was my tizzy last night. So today, I cut my phone bill by what I think will be $25 and got rid of Verizon Freedom Essentials and now I have the Verizon lower budget plan for people who spend less time on the phone. I cannot justify spending so much money each monthon service for this piece of electronics that only connects me with automated messages such as the CVS guy telling me to press 1 for yes and 2 for no and the credit card lady that I hang up on, and people asking for money. That’s 99% of the calls I get these days.
I go for days and days without using it. It’s damn sad.
So the guy says to me, “You realize that you will have to pay for each minute of long distance….”
I said, “Yeah, all my friends dumped me and I never use the phone anymore. Thought I’d save money.”
He changed the subject to something else, something about the bill or whatever.