“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.
“Seriously? I already gave it to the computer. Twice.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I need your claim number to assist you.”
She sighs heavily. Repeats the 22-digit string.
“Was that 4206 at the end there, ma’am?”
“I do apologize, but I am unable to find it.”
A deep breath. “Shall I repeat it a fourth time?”
“Yes, ma’am, I do advise that you do.”
“I do apologize for any inconvenience, ma’am. I can confirm that I have now located the claim. How can I assist you today?”
“I want to cancel my claim.”
“All right, I’d be more than happy to assist you with that. I understand that you want to cancel your pending claim for,” a pause while she reads the screen, “a defective boyfriend, remedy sought: breakup, for a claim amount of $2,000. Can you please tell me in a few words why you wish to cancel this claim?”
“I—well, just didn’t need to make the claim. I just want to retract it.”
“Can you be a little more specific, ma’am? I see that this claim was filed 48 hours ago, so it is in the processing queue set to be paid out and the relationship terminated in under 24 hours.”
“I don’t understand, I can’t cancel?”
“Correct, ma’am, unless one of the available cancellation options is selected, at this stage of processing, the system will not let me cancel.”
“I see. Uh, I guess my reason is that I regret starting this process and I want to wipe it from the system.”
“Ma’am, I’m afraid that’s not a listed reason.”
“So there’s like a drop-down list of acceptable reasons to cancel?”
A slight waver of disloyalty in her voice as she admits: “Yes, ma’am.”
“Can you just read me the options and I’ll tell you which one is right?”
There’s a longer pause on the other end now. It tolls the death knell of the sacred secrecy of the drop-down list. But it’s 5:55, and the call center shuts down at 6:00 or when all open calls are closed out, whichever comes first, so she says, a little quieter, “For this category of claim the options are ‘romantic argument resolved (bilateral),’ ‘couple’s counseling scheduled (bilateral),’ ‘flowers/date night/grand romantic gesture offered (unilateral),’ ‘apologies for making a big deal out of nothing (unilateral),’ or ‘sudden death of one or both parties.’”
“Oh, definitely the one about unilateral apologies. That’s it.”
“All right, I can assist you with processing that cancellation reason. Can you please tell me which party initiated the apology for making a big deal out of nothing (unilateral)?”
“All right, ma’am, I will record that. And on which date did you issue that unilateral apology?”
“Today?” she says, as though it’s a question.
It’s 5:56. “Are you sure you didn’t apologize within 12 hours of the breakup request?”
“Yes, I’m wondering if you actually apologized within 12 hours of the breakup request. Because if that’s what happened, this claim won’t go on your record and your premium will not increase.” She drums her nails on the desktop.
“Oh, absolutely, you’re right now that I think about it, it was definitely—you know—just an hour or two after I filed the claim.”
“I do thank you for your answers, ma’am. I will be happy to put in a cancellation request on this claim. You should see a confirmation email in your inbox shortly, and a courtesy copy to the other party.”
“Oh, no, please don’t send one to him. I—isn’t there a note in my file? I requested this claim to be kept private, just to me.”
“Unfortunately I’m not seeing that request, ma’am. I’m showing that the other party was copied on notice of your breakup request.”
“I’m showing that it was sent this morning.”
The line goes dead.
She pulls off her headset with her left hand while finishing out the claim with her right. Confirm no email to other party (good luck to her putting that cat back in the bag. That’ll be an old-style breakup in no time, with no compensation. You hate to see it.) Confirm cancellation, confirm cancellation reason in acceptable time window, no penalties. Turns off the lamp. Grabs her coat, steps out into the rain and hurries to the hole-in-the-wall burrito place for some takeout.