𝗝𝘂𝗹𝗶𝗮 𝗛𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗖𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗲, 𝗜𝗻𝗰. 𝗛𝗼𝘁𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲

by Ralph Greco, Jr.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“I have been transferred now five times, and I am sick of it!”

“I’m so sorry—please let me assist you. What is your name, Miss…?”

“Don’t you have my name by now, I have entered it four times to your automated system? Please, just help me!”

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. I assure you this is the last time you’ll have to give anybody your name. Things with me will go much faster than with your last operator; just give me your name, please, so I might…”

“Haversmith, Julia Haversmith. H-A-V…”

“I got it, Mrs. Haversmith, okay, I see you on the tech screen. Yes, yes, I see what your problem is. I’m so sorry for the delay.”

“Well, thank you. I didn’t mean to raise my voice; it’s just that, well, I have been on hold for a while, then transferred, then put back on hold. I’ve had three different techs on the phone over the last hour, and each one keeps transferring me down the line. I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

“I completely understand your frustration Mrs. Haversmith…”

“Julie, please, call me Julie, okay? And your name is?”

“Hi Julie, my name is Cecelia.”

“Thank you, Cecelia, finally I think I might be getting somewhere.”

“Yes, yes, I assure you, Julie, that by the time we end this call, we will have your C.I. unit fixed.”

“Thank you so much; it’s so great I finally have somebody on the line who can help me… Wait, a Clone Inc. car just pulled into my driveway.”

“Yes, that would be Henry Zee.”

“Yes, oh hi, yes, yes, I’m on the phone with her right now. Sorry Cecelia, but Henry, yes, Henry, just knocked. He’s here right now!”

“Mrs. H…I mean Julie, let’s you and I talk for a bit while Henry sees to the unit, okay?”

“Yes, yes, I’m, well, I just never expected…”

“All part of the service, Julie. By the time you get to me, and sorry to say it had to come to that, you do get higher tech support, and we get the job done.”

“Why couldn’t they just transfer me to you an hour ago?”

“I wish I could easily answer that question, believe me, by the time people get to me, they are usually not as nice as you.”

“And I didn’t think I was being nice at all.”

“Haha, well you were and are, you are a delight, Julie, really. But to your question… It’s the company’s first-line-of-defence protocol, although not one I happen to agree with. But with sixty-four percent of our call complaints so easily fixed, and mostly from online support, the company feels customers don’t usually need the personal touch of higher-tech support.”

“You mean the better ‘human touch,’ that’s what it is, really.”

“Well that’s not for me to say, of course, but just between you and me, you won’t believe how many people have simply kicked a C.I. replicator plug out of a wall, or they might have simply filled the saliva reservoir but forgot to add their weekly allotment strands of hair, plenty of the problems are actually that easily fixed. This is why the company doesn’t like to put calls all the way through at every instance.”

“I guess I can understand; still, when somebody has a legitimate problem...”

“Yes, that’s where things can get a bit sticky, I agree. Henry just texted that he has the panel open, you can see that, right?”

“Yes, I can see him working on her from here; yes, he has that back panel open, the one your instructions told me never to open.”

“Right, that would void your warranty. Only a Clone, Inc. tech is authorized to do what Henry is doing now. And I might add, Henry really is the best Julie. The saying around the office is ‘Where others have tread before and failed, Henry always completes his mission.’”

“Oh-oh, wow, that was the first I laughed all day. Thanks!”

“Good good, now while he works, do you want to go over your service contract? I see you presently have the gold package with us, right?”

“Yes, the gold, yes. Once-a-week automatic, which was working fine until yesterday when I didn’t see a new model.”

“And we’re sorry about that, but you will, you will, don’t worry. So, you are happy with the weekly obsolescence and the full rendering correct?”

“Yes, the clones are perfect; even my husband can’t tell the difference.”

“Inside and out, we do work hard to maintain the very best standards for our replicas… and I should say, that is what you are paying for.”

“Really, I mean, it was never any problem with the clones, it was just that the replicator just stopped working and didn’t make me a new one this week. I got a little nervous to tell you the truth, and I couldn’t figure out why, so I called.”

“Well, you will be happy to know it is working now. Henry should be just leaving.”

“He fixed it already?”

“As I said, he is efficient.”

“Thank you, thank you so much, Cecelia. Why don’t you transfer me to your superior? I would love to give you a glowing recommendation, you’ve really been so fantastic.”

“I would if I could, Julie. But I’ll be gone by tomorrow; it would be useless to compliment me specifically. I can put down that you like the model though, our original tech support human Cecelia would be very happy to hear that her clones are doing such a good job.”

“Oh, I, I didn’t realize you were. I mean, I’m sorry, I…”

“No need to apologize, Julie, have a great day, and thanks for calling C.I. support.”

“Wait, wait!”

“Yes, Julie?”

“Well, you are obviously a very high-functioning model.”

“Thank you; I like to consider myself so.”

“Could I get an upgrade in my contract? Maybe at the end of term, make sure my new clones are outfitted with your brain capacity?”

“Well, no offense Julie, but our brains are digitized and work connected to the Clone, Inc. hive-mind, yours works in an entirely different way. If we were to outfit a house human clone or even one of the everyday worker series with my brain, the clone would be nothing more than a robot. Believe me, neither you nor your husband would like that.”

“Well, you seem very sweet, very human.”

“Thank you, Julie, that’s the nicest thing anybody has said to me all day… and you have a great day, and thank you for continuing to be such a valued Clone Inc. customer. I assume Henry has just left?”

“Yes, he has. Thank you, Cecelia, it was so nice meeting you.”

“Likewise, bye. Bye forever.” ✦

Ralph Greco, Jr. is the devilishly clever nom de plume of Ralph Greco, a professional writer of short fiction, essays, blogs, SEO web copy, articles, interviews and reviews, one-act plays, songs, and the children's book series, Echo City Capers. Ralph’s work has appeared in major market and small press magazines, online, in anthologies and single-author collection, and he’s been published across seven countries. Ralph’s music can be found at www.ralphgrecomusic.com. Ralph also writes for ‘adult’ businesses worldwide and co-hosts the slightly naughty cultural podcast "Licking Non-Vanilla" (www.lickingnonvanilla.com).

Speculative fiction & POETRY ZINE