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It’s just enough to push our buttons


This is a message for Karen Brown.

I am not Karen Brown.

We have been trying to contact you …

I am not Karen Brown.

… regarding an urgent matter that you brought to the attention of our office.

You’re not listening to me.

This is Cecilla. Please call me at …

Cecilla’s office has been trying to reach Karen Brown for at least the past three years.

I say her office because, when we began receiving the calls, it was someone else on the other end of the line, perhaps named for a different Simon & Garfunkel song.

These days, however, it’s Cecilla who’s breaking our hearts, who’s leaving us messages daily from her ever-changing area code as her confidence is shaken from not being able to reach Karen Brown.

If this is Karen Brown, please press 1.

If this is not Karen Brown, please press 2.

If you believe you might have been Karen Brown in a previous life, please press 3.

If you dated Karen Brown in high school, please press 4.

To hear these options again, please press 5.

(Why would anyone ever press 5?)

To stop receiving these phone calls, please press 6.

Cecilla has a pleasant voice — certainly less robotic than the guy who keeps telling me that the extended warranty for my car, for my computer and/or for my car’s computer is about to expire.

One time, when that guy called, I couldn’t press the 6-MNO button fast enough.

One moment please.

I do not want to wait one moment. In the words of the philosopher W.A. Matthew Yankovic, I’d rather jump naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks … or stick my nostrils together with Crazy Glue. … I’d rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades … then spend one more moment with you.

How can I help you today?

I pressed a button saying I don’t want any more calls from this number.

Okay, I can take care of that for you.

The next day, the extended warranty guy was back … calling from a different number.

I should have been more specific.

The Mystery of Karen Brown, however, feels more personal — there’s a name attached. Granted, it’s a moniker composed of the 10th most common first name and fourth most common surname in the United States, but we’re at a loss to help.

We’ve been getting the calls to our landline for three years now. The urgent matter being handled by Cecilla’s office must, by now, be accompanied by a pulsating red warning light, a flashing countdown clock and an emergency siren wailing in the background.

No wonder Cecilla sounds stressed.

Before she took this job, I answered the call mid-message and pressed 2 … since I was not Karen Brown.

May I ask who I am speaking to?

“This is not Karen Brown,” I said, resisting the urge to a) tell them since they already asked, needing my permission in moot; and 2) tell them they had ended there sentence with a preposition.

How can I help you today?

Your office keeps calling for Karen Brown. There is no Karen Brown here. There has never been a Karen Brown here.

Perhaps she was the previous resident?

No … there was no previous resident. There was nothing here before us. We’re the only people who have ever lived here. Before we were here, this was a vacant lot. Please stop calling us.

Okay, I can take care of that for you.

And then, two days later …

So, we don’t answer anymore. The calls are always the same, always some vague message that Karen Brown has a problem that needs to be solved by the people in Cecilla’s office.

Occasionally, there’s a mention of a legal issue. When we get a spate of them over a week, we’re reminded how many times they’ve tried to reach Karen Brown, culminating with what seems like a vague warning …

… “We have been trying to reach you without success. If we do not hear back from you by the deadline, we will consider the matter closed. This will be your final reminder.”

It’s never, in case you were wondering, the final reminder. For that matter, the matter is never closed. Heck, they never even tell us what our deadline is.

Well, not “our” deadline … Karen Brown’s deadline.

Wherever she is. Whoever she is. If she even exists.

I suppose there are ways out of this situation, but we’re too involved now. Our own little soap opera, surrounding our own little community.

The office, the lawyer, the three-year-long urgent matter with a never-specified deadline … and Karen Brown, of course. But mainly, these days, it’s the sadness in Cecilla’s voice that elicits our empathy.

Oh Cecilla, we’re down on our knees. We’re begging you please ... to leave us alone.

Mail Tribune news editor Kar ... Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com