Claim 2

“Good afternoon, you have reached Embarrassment, how can I assist you today?”

“I’d like to file a claim, please.”

“Very happy to help you today,” said the grim voice grimly. “Please describe the nature of your claim.”

“Oh God, do I have to?” she cringed.

“I’m afraid I can’t assist you without details about your claim.”

“Well, God. Okay. I’m working from home, because—well, I assume you are, too? Like, we’re all…?”

The grim voice at Embarrassment neither confirmed nor denied this.

“So, anyway, I’m still getting used to calling into meetings via video chat.”

“Oh,” said Embarrassment, readying himself to win the office pool over which agent would first reach 20 claims for accidental video-call nudity. He and Susan were neck-and-neck at 19, and he could use the $20. 

“And I didn’t realize that my TV was in view of my webcam. I had…taken a break at lunch to watch something. Just my lunch break, not like wasting time or anything, but I didn’t realize until the call was over that I had paused it at an unfortunate…I mean, it was just HBO, but I guess it was showing…”

He let her squirm for a moment, settling a 2 of Spades onto a 3 of Hearts, not in a particular hurry to move it along. Perhaps her discomfort would have bothered him a year ago, but it was hard to feel emotional for long about strangers’ embarrassment in Embarrassment. “Is that all?”

“No…my dog was also in the background, chewing on a pair of my underwear.”

“I see.”

“And I realized that just at the end of the call, but I was so flustered when I signed off that I said ‘love you’ to the entire marketing team.” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, I need Embarrassment coverage.”

“I see from the membership ID you entered on the phone,” he droned, “that your plan does not provide Embarrassment coverage. Can I reroute you?”

“No, I need Embarrassment. Definitely.”

“I’m afraid your plan does not cover Embarrassment, ma’am,” he repeated firmly. “You do have coverage for Momentary Lapse in Job Performance. Would you like to speak to them?”

“No, no, I don’t need a doctor’s note about temporary insanity—”

“I see you’ve already talked to them.”

“I need Embarrassment. You guys are the only department who can undo it, right?”

“I’m afraid you opted out of Embarrassment coverage in your initial enrollment.”

“There has to be a way back in, or like—a partial claim or something? Partial Erasure?”

“Ma’am, I’m afraid that here at Embarrassment we need our coverage to be fully paid up and installed before the event or else the Erasure is ineffective.”

“Yes, but the guy—the sales agent guy—said I could opt in later. I want to opt in now. Please.”

“He was correct, and I’d be happy to transfer you if you would like to supplement your coverage at this time, but I’m afraid that any new Embarrassment coverage would only apply to future Embarrassments. We would be more than happy to Erase any future events. However, I’m afraid that without pre-installed coverage, our technology cannot affect bygone Embarrassments.”

She groaned quietly, the sound of a hand covering a face. In the background, a dog’s paws skittered across linoleum.

“Ma’am,” said the grim voice softly, “we do find that sometimes people do want to increase their plan protection after an adverse event. Would you like me to transfer you to Sales? I imagine this event may have caused you to reevaluate the value that a full plan including unlimited Erasures can add to your peace of mind.” And he wouldn’t mind that 10% commission Sales would send him. 

“No,” she said after a pause, sounding bold. “I’m sure there’s no way anything like this will ever happen to me again. I’ve learned my lesson. Thanks for your time, I guess.”

She hung up.

Such a shame. No doubt she’d soon be calling Sales in a panic after another adverse event, forgetting someone important’s name or something mundane like that. She’d probably buy the lowest rate of Embarrassment, covering only mild embarrassment, and she’d regret it once again. It often took people three or four Embarrassments to understand why unlimited Erasure was more than worth its premium pricetag.

Oh well, he sighed, leaning back and massaging his shoulders. With any luck, she or someone just like her would soon be the final accidental-nude video-caller he needed.

“I’m coming for you and your $20, Susan,” he called over the cubicle divider.

“Fat chance, Dan,” came Susan’s lovely voice. 

He hid his smile. 

Just one more, he thought, as the call lines lit up again.

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