I'm always looking for ways to save money, and this week I zeroed in on my phone bill. I logged on to their website, and a little box popped up on my screen asking me if I'd like to chat online with a company rep.
• Welcome to our online chat service. Please hold for a sales representative. Your current estimated wait time is 3 days 7 hours 36 min 27 secs. While we have you online, why not add the "Share Everything With the NSA Plan" for only $10 a month? We've seen your bank account and we know you can afford it. Especially if you cut back on the fast-food purchases. And according to your genetic profile, that would be advisable. Are you interested in our plan? Press the silicon chip we planted on the left side of your neck last night at 3:23:45 a.m.
• Thanks for waiting. For quality assurance, this conversation is being monitored by my supervisor, the NSA and the IRS. Your session ID number is 1984. You are now chatting with sales representative "Uncle." I'm here to assist you. Are we upgrading your existing phone or are we a rogue analyst on the run?
"We" have the nationwide talk and text plan, and I was wondering - if I use less than half the 700 minutes in my plan can I pay less?
• 700 is the minimum under your plan, David. By the way, David, President Obama wanted me to tell you he admires your sense of thrift in these difficult times, and he promises the economy is improving. And I just received a flagged text from Homeland Security regarding your recent phone call on June 16. We are all pleased you called your dad on Father's Day. Good for you.
Did he like the tie?
• According to a June 17 email sent to your sister, subject line, "That lousy brother of yours," he was not "delighted" with the tie and would have preferred cologne. In spite of this he still loves you. May I tell you about our NSA Share Everything Plan? Share everything you text, tweet, post, upload or download directly with the federal government and you can reap big savings. You earn a huge discount if you save us the hassle of data harvesting and sifting.
Analyst No. 2 has entered the chat room.
• I see you are interested in adding drapes in the room where you are sitting. It's my pleasure to process your order and answer any questions you may have throughout our conversation. Call me Biggy Brother. And no, I'm not a rapper.
Listen. I don't need new drapes. What happened to Uncle?
• I'm sorry but Uncle has left the building. And I can clearly see from here that you need drapes. And a shave. I won't even mention genetic counseling. I also see that you are interested in our Patriot Act XXX Wiretap. Is this correct?
No! I just want to lower my phone bill!!
• Excellent choice! I'd be happy to help you add the Patriot Act XXX Wiretap to your account.
Are you listening to me?
• We all are, silly goose. Name an agency that isn't listening! Before we process your order, we will have to check your address, your mental health records, your eligibility for discounts, your DNA, your criminal record, your party affiliation, and other information that might be needed to fulfill your order. Will this be fine with you?
I want the chip in my neck removed. Now.
• It looks quite nice on you. And it matches the chip on your shoulder. David, while I pull up your file let me tell you about our three customer-service goals.
1. Our top priority is to provide you with consistently superior customer service.
2. Our second priority is to provide the American government with enough data to destroy you.
3. Our third goal is to ensure that will never be necessary.
Will that ever become necessary, David?
No. I love America. And the NSA.
• And you forgot why you contacted us?
Absolutely. I forgot why I contacted you.
• I will now process and upload your order confirmation number and your software upgrade to your chip. If in the future you need to upgrade your service or confess to crimes against the state, you can contact us anytime. Just tap your neck chip twice or speak directly into your desk lamp. Do you understand David?
• I would greatly appreciate it if you could spare a few seconds to take the survey on how well I assisted you when you click on End Session after the chat. If you don't, I'll have to take a "look" at your credit data! Just kidding.
Thanks for being a valued customer. And a good American.
Email Star cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org