John F. McCullagh

(09/28/1954 / Flushing)

Personal Calls


Telemarketers get a bad rap.
People call us impersonal drones.
We’re just trying to eke out a living,
armed just with a script and a phone.

My place is called “Cubicle City”.
It’s the dream of a lifetime for me:
Five thousand square feet of space underground
where the bowl-a mat once used to be.

Joey is one of my workers,
For years he’s been one of my best.
He knew how to deal with rejection
and make many more sales than the rest.

Just lately, his work has been suffering.
Last night he was crying on phone.
I see he’s been calling one number
far too often. I see that it’s his own.

Now I am a curious fellow
about all these short calls to his home.
I pick up my handset and dial it
to tell her to leave Joe alone.

Of course I would get a recording;
A woman’s voice, honeyed and sweet,
It seductively says “leave a message,
when you hear the sound of the beep.”

Puzzled, I asked his co-worker
To tell me, when Joe’s not around,
“What has been up with him lately?
I notice that Joe has seemed down.”

Judy tells me that Joe’s wife had left him.
For weeks he’s been living alone.
The calls have become his obsession;
Just to hear his wife’s voice on the phone.

I nod, but elect to do nothing;
I, too, had a wife of my own.
I recall when she left me- just four barren walls
and the sound of her voice on the phone.

Submitted: Monday, July 08, 2013
Edited: Monday, July 08, 2013

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