Friday, October 7, 2011

Mistaken Identities

A bit of a lighter post this time around, folks.

Am I an heiress?
A few weeks ago, I was intrigued to find a letter had arrived for me in the mail from Spain, of all places.  I tore open the envelope and was disappointed to find that it was just a would-be scam.  It was the old "I'm a lawyer and I'm trying to track down the closest living relative to someone with your last name so that I can give that person a large inheritance for a small administration fee" scam.  I think it even said something about a locked treasure box.

A damsel in computer distress?
A couple of days after that, I got an early morning phone call from another scammer.  I had just heard about the scam the day before, so I knew right away what it was all about.  Somebody calls, pretending to be from a computer repair company, and says that your computer has contracted a virus or malware.  Here's my recollection of the phone call:
Me: Hello?
Scammer: Hello Mam!  This is Window Repair Company calling because there is a problem with your computer! [Excuse the excessive exclamation marks, but everything he said was exclaimed!  Bam!]
Me: Really?  Oh dear.
Scammer:  Yes, Mam!  Can you please go turn your computer on?!
Me: Of course.  Would you like me to turn on the remote assistance and give you access to my computer?  Would you like to access my credit cards and bank account to in the interest of saving some time?
He was talking at the same time, so I don't think he heard that part.
Scammer: Can you please turn on your remote assistance so that I can fix the problem with Windows?
Me:  I don't have Windows.
Scammer: What?  You don't have Windows?
Me: No.  Where are you calling from?
Scammer: Toronto, Canada.
Me: Okay.  First of all, do you know what time it is here?
Scammer: No.
Me:  It's 7:00 in the morning.  It's pretty early to be calling.  Second of all, I know this is a scam, so don't ever call this number again.
Scammer:  I will call you every single day!
Me:  Excuse me?  You will call me every single day?
Scammer:  Yes, Mam!  You think that every company is a scam?  This is not a scam!  This is very serious!  Your computer has a serious problem with malware and viruses!
Me: Can I speak to your supervisor?
Scammer: I don't have a supervisor!
Me: Well, if this really is a computer problem, I should get somebody else in the house who knows more about computers to call you back.  Can I have your phone number?
Scammer: There is no phone number here.
Me: No phone number?  How are you calling me?
Long pause
Scammer: Are you still there?
Me: Yes, I'm waiting for that phone number
Scammer gives me a Toronto phone number which I'm sure is just a stolen cell phone number.
Me: Well thank you for calling then.  Bye bye.

I sincerely hope that I brought some annoyance to his day.  At least I wasted some of his time which hopefully prevented some poor person from being suckered into losing $150.  I saw a blurb on the news the other day about this scam making its way through our city, and numerous people have turned on the remote assistance to the caller only to be extorted into paying $150 to have their perfectly functioning computer turned back on.

Am I a juror?
A few days after that, I got another letter in the mail.  When I opened it, I was wishing it was a case of mistaken identity, as it was a summons for jury duty.  Thankfully, I was excused the day after pleading my case: breastfeeding an infant, waiting in pain for gallbladder surgery, in the middle of moving, and not actually even living in that city most of the time anymore.  Phew.

A mushroom famer?
I switched to a new phone number last month when we moved out here so that we aren't paying long distance charges when we live here.  Every time I forget to turn my phone off when I go to bed, I get phone calls in the middle of the night from people who sound just as out of it as I do when I answer it.  I kept wondering who had this number before I did to get phone calls from people all through the night.  Last night, I received a text message saying " still deliver?"  And another one a few minutes later: "Hey person's name!  I'm a friend of name and name from place.  Any chance you have a quarter of shrooms?"  All those late night phone calls suddenly make sense.  Great.  Whoever had this number before me was clearly a supplier of non-culinary mushrooms.  Probably more than that.  I might be in the market for another phone number soon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jesus Wept.

The weight of grief is so much heavier when a child passes from this life to the next.  It's as if the Earth's gravitational pull has somehow been exponentially multiplied when you are standing graveside in the rain.  Perhaps it is the weight of all that hoped-for life that was not yet lived.  My fourteen year old cousin passed away a week and a half ago.  He passed after eleven years of fighting cancer, just three years old when he was first diagnosed.

When I was young, we used to play silly games in the car to pass the time on long rides.  There was always the alphabet sign game, or the herby-love-bug-spotting game, and the Bible memory verse game.  We would each take a turn reciting a memory verse and whoever could recite the most verses was the winner.  John 11:35 always came in handy during that game, being that it simply reads "Jesus wept."  That verse was always recited with a giggle or at least a smirk for getting credit for such a short verse.  Over the last number of years, that verse has come to mean so much more to me.

Even in its brevity and simplicity, it moves me.  It's that almost-painful feeling you get in your chest when an emotion affects your physical being.  It reaches into me and speaks to the broken parts of me.  When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, our pastor and his wife came to his bedside in the hospital in those first terrifying days.  He prayed for us and reminded us of this story of Jesus weeping.  Here is a saviour who wept, all too acquainted with the immeasurable sorrow of death in this world.  When I imagine Christ weeping at the grave of his friend Lazarus, I imagine him weeping not only for his personal loss of a dear friend, but at the greater sense of loss.  I think he wept knowing, more than any of us, that this is not the way things are supposed to be.  Yes, God is in control.  Yes, God allows things to happen for a reason.  Yes, God is good.  But I don't think that this is the way things are supposed to be.  And, like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in this story, I believe he will make things right again someday.  In the meantime, sometimes it's just hard.

Jesus Wept
James Tissot, 1836-1902

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