Contest #158 winner 🏆

Your Cat™️ Customer Service

Submitted into Contest #158 in response to: Write about a character with questionable morals.... view prompt

137 comments

Crime Fiction

Hi, I'm Timmy McHill and drugs and AA started me on the road to where I am today in the world of feline telephone fraud. I’m not sure which one, maybe both. My career in Customer Service began right after I took a quick detour from university at age 19. 


My educational readjustment happened because the University Police didn't understand the economic theory of harm reduction. Since the nursing students I was attending class with had an inflexible demand for party drugs, they would be dealing with real drug dealers downtown, which was harmful, if I wasn’t in the middle balancing supply and demand. Much better right? Getting along with all types of people myself kept those students safe, and kept me away from working at a McDonald's, or probably someplace nicer like a Chipotle or Ruby Tuesday. 


After throwing the textbook at me, the University Police said they would drop the charges if I agreed to attend 12 months of 12-step meetings, take regular drug tests, and most importantly, not sell drugs on-campus. They didn’t mention not selling drugs off-campus so I agreed.


Attending sobriety meetings for a few weeks, I started to feel it wasn’t a good idea to sell drugs off-campus either. The message of “Let’s get high on life” began to sink in. But to get high on life, I needed to gain elevation by accumulating some dollar bills. The 12 steppers only gave me free coffee. Money was no longer flying in from freshman year nursing students. 


My AA sponsor, a really great guy who could be a bit inflexible, said I needed to start over in the real world and work my way up from the bottom. I began to check job ads. I was slightly lacking in the qualifications that most companies were looking for, until I saw:


‘Are you good at talking to people? Can you handle a high stress job environment? -Regency Estates’


I could answer yes to both questions. On their website, I filled in my details, describing my last occupation as ‘Lifestyle Enhancement Direct Sales’.


I met with a Mrs Anderson at their 2nd floor walk up office. She didn’t seem to mind that I was only 19, said I was a smooth talker, and the next day offered me a job.


The company, which was to be my introduction to Customer Service, was a professional Airbnb host. On paper, I was a Customer Service Officer, but my real job was to keep reviews high on the website.


Mrs Anderson said I needed to learn on the job so I sat in front of the telephone and waited for the first call to come in.

An angry voice shouted, “Thank god, I finally got through to somebody.”

“Regency Estate, how can I help?” I replied.

“My neighbor is making noise, banging over and over. I AM a paying customer, so you need to make it stop.”


This would be easy, so I said, “I’m coming over now,” and got moving, eager to fix the noise problem. Having a first day success would help guarantee Mrs Anderson kept me on past the probation period.


At the apartment, I heard a banging noise just like he told me. I rang the offending neighbor’s doorbell. 

A man with huge arms opened the door and asked me, “Who are you?” 

Undeterred by our size difference, I said, “I’m with Regency Estate, we own the apartment next door. We heard a noise coming from your apartment?”

“Oh that? Kneading. I make bread on Sundays.”

“Can you stop, or at least lower the volume?”

“No,” he said. His huge hands were covered in flour, “is there anything else?” 

Then he shut the door before I could say anything.


20 minutes later, I saw a notification on Airbnb: 

‘The host’s intern came over and just made things worse. I recommend everyone to avoid this host's properties.”


Mrs Anderson called me to her office, said one complaint was nothing to worry about. She gave me a few customer service pointers, then said she’d terminate me if I didn’t follow them. 


I waited for the next call.

“The tap is leaking, it's been dripping all night.”

“That is terrible to hear. I can assure you we have never had that happen before at the property,” I said, “our maintenance expert will be available this Thursday. Let us know then if you’re still having the problem?”


He didn’t have much to say back to this and said goodbye.


I watched anxiously but didn’t see any notification appear. Of course, Regency Estate didn't have a maintenance expert. 


The days and weeks flew past…


“My air conditioner is too cold.”

“The apartment smells.”

“There’s mold in the bathroom.”

“The sofa has stains.”


Bait-and-switch, delay, distract, free gift packages, at most transferring the tenant to a different property with a new set of issues, but making them feel heard and valued so they didn't leave a complaint.


3 years later, the Airbnb host job blew up when I told a tenant to ignore a minor gas leak until our maintenance expert was available. The Fire Department said someone needed to be responsible for the unfortunate conflagration. Mrs Anderson said that someone was me. I began to look for new job opportunities.


A job listing said, “Are you good at talking to people? Can you handle a high stress job environment? Do you want to be part of the FUTURE?”


“I want to be part of the future!” I said to myself and filled in my particulars, describing my previous jobs as “Real Estate Management” and “Lifestyle Enhancement Direct Sales”. 


After a Zoom interview, I met the hiring manager on the 17th floor of a downtown office. She had a more university educated vibe than the people who worked at the Airbnb office. Fortunately, she didn’t mind that I was 22 years old. She smirked as she read ‘Lifestyle Enhancement Sales’ but didn’t ask any questions about it


She pointed toward the chair, “Can you sell me that chair?”

“Sell you that chair? Sure.” 

I sold her her own chair through unequal parts hard logic, subtle persuasion and overt flirtation, and passed the test.


She smiled and said, “You're hired! Come back 9 am tomorrow for training.”


“Can I ask, what does the company sell?”


“We provide a service for cat owners to clone their deceased pets.”


“Cloned cats?”


“Yes! An amazing new breakthrough technology.”


The next day, I arrived at their office and after spending all morning at a frankly, slightly dull orientation meeting and learning the Your Cat™️ lingo, I started picking up calls.


“Your Cat Customer Service, how can I help you?” 

“Pepperidge Farm is chewing our sofa. Oreo never did that.”


I read from the script, “I’m so happy you called us with your concern. Pepperidge Farm’s and Oreo’s DNA is identical, but they have had a different life journey,” these customers paid more so we spent more time with them, “You are also now a more experienced cat owner. I’m sending you information on preventing chewing in your clone now.”


It wasn’t so different from my last job.


On the next call, the customer worried, “We are starting to see stripes on Gizmo. Whiskers didn’t have stripes.”


I checked her file, and told her: “Gizmo was born in winter, his life parent Whiskers was a summer cat. This is a normal development we see in most of our clones. Thank you for your call.”


After spending a few weeks making customers happy with their pets at twice the success ratio of my other colleagues, Your Cat shifted me to Customer Procurement. I would now be making commission on each $25,000 sale.


I got the picture of what was going on quick. My first assignment of the day was waiting on Line 1:

“This is Jake Johnson, I’d like to know why you are asking for 5 more pictures of my cat? He’s dead. Where am I supposed to get those from?”


Jake was angry. He was probably getting pressure from his wife.


I said, “Because of Dusty’s pedigree, our CEO is interested in her as an example of our life rejuvenation technology, and possibly using her in future marketing materials. That is if you consent, of course.”


I felt Jake thinking on his side of the call whether this would please his wife or not. After he decided, he thanked me, said he’d find some more pictures from his social media history and hung up.


In truth, our request for more pictures was sent because the Cat Procurement Department said his photo was too fuzzy, and needed to get a clearer look at Dusty to find a match from our shelter kitten inventory. We didn't want to embarrass ourselves.


You see, cats in the wild match on 99.87% of their DNA. With a good pick at the Humane Society, we could get that above 99.9%. The founder let us know he had a legal opinion this was high enough to get us over the legal limit for using the word ‘identical’ in our clone marketing material.


99.9% is identical, isn’t it? If you ate a cookie that was 99.9% the same as the last one, you would say it's an identical cookie.


Before you call selling shelter cats as clones immoral, consider this, the cat owners are happy, in fact overjoyed, to have a clone of their original cat. The company pockets 25 grand an order. I get a commission. I say it's a win-win-win all around. 


I know, some day a team of journalists will send us a photo of a Himalayan and the DNA of a Siamese, and if their ‘expose’ gets enough attention, Your Cat™️’s good run will be finished. Those selfish journalists care more about selling subscriptions than about disappointing thousands of cat owners.


But when that happens, I will move on to my next Customer Service job, hopefully one where I will be able to assist you with what you are looking for.

August 09, 2022 00:22

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137 comments

DS Gilrea
08:32 Aug 26, 2022

Excellent. Love it. Well done.

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Jeremiah Rosas
21:51 Aug 25, 2022

I got nothing to say but "Awsome!"

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Brandi Yetzer
12:14 Aug 25, 2022

As a Better Call Saul fan, I have to tell you I really enjoyed reading this. It actually made me laugh how much it reminded me of the show, lol. Thanks for this. I'm so glad it won the contest -- it's well deserved!

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16:15 Aug 25, 2022

Thx Brandi! after watching many seasons, I had his way of speaking and trying to sell us something that doesn't make any sense still in my mind. I especially remember the season where he was going to retirement homes to sign them up for his class action suit as one of the peaks of comedy in the series!

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T.S.A. Maiven
19:50 Aug 24, 2022

I also would have loved to see how he sold the chair. :) Great story and I love everything with a good cat story. Great work, keep it up!

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09:25 Aug 25, 2022

thx for reading! wish the right one liner came to me;) I read that question came up in someone's real life sales interview somewhere.

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T.S.A. Maiven
08:57 Aug 26, 2022

No problem, I'll read whatever you write now. This was to good!

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18:46 Aug 24, 2022

You are funny!! Good story.

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Zelda C. Thorne
13:48 Aug 24, 2022

Hi! Catching up with my reading! Bahahaha love the opener and the end. All of it was funny and very believable!

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Darya Silman
18:08 Aug 23, 2022

As a person who worked in cold-calling, I found the story hilarious :))))

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02:27 Aug 24, 2022

You must know all the tricks then;) Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Shlomo Ben- Zvi
16:51 Aug 23, 2022

Wow, there are so many good things about this story, from the ironic title 'your cat' [I get it now only as I'm writing this) to the style of telling this seemingly simple tale, sans flowery language. You have a great grasp of human nature, the protagonist continually justifying himself. I also like how - if you did this intentionally - you let the reader fill in the blanks, a sign of a good writer. After reading the story I reflect on what you didn't point out, i.e. the ignorance, more likely 'in denial' of these customers, who don't do...

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02:28 Aug 24, 2022

Thx! And, I did read some writing advice, to just cut out all the parts that the reader could imagine for themselves. Happy u enjoyed it.

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Bad CatZ
04:51 Aug 23, 2022

Wow, no wonder you won, great story!

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Ren Isaac
00:43 Aug 23, 2022

Omg, this story was amazing! I love the way you started off this story and how it quickly unfolded into honestly, a really funny plot. Congratulations on winning this contest! :)

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05:27 Aug 23, 2022

Thx ren!

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Tamara Shaffer
11:32 Aug 22, 2022

Clever story. Congratulations on winning. That line about "getting high on life" is so funny.

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13:19 Aug 22, 2022

Thx for reading! That was one of my fav lines when i was writing it too, imagining how a very ambitious person like jimmy mcgill would approach things

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Jeannette Miller
22:33 Aug 21, 2022

Congratulations on the win! It's very creative and a great spin on the prompt :)

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02:12 Aug 22, 2022

thanks for reading and commenting;)

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Katie Kanning
21:39 Aug 21, 2022

Hi Scott, I really enjoyed your story. I'm wondering if I could read it on my podcast, Unpublished, not Unknown? It's all about spreading indie authors' stories a bit further into the world and giving you credit of course. If you're interested, please submit it to unpublishednotunknown.com where you'll get a chance to link whatever info you want in the episode. Have a great day! - Katie

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03:41 Aug 22, 2022

Hi Katie, just had a listen to an episode of Unpublished, a very nice episode with sound effects too. Well done! I've just submitted the form, and am ok for you to read the story as long as you follow all of Reedy's terms and conditions. Would be interesting to hear what you do with this wild story if it becomes one you find time to produce.:)

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Katie Kanning
20:37 Aug 23, 2022

Hi Scott, Thank you for checking it out and giving your feedback. Yes, I'm always sure to give Reedsy credit for their prompt and link to them in the show notes. I'm excited to put my little spin on it. Be sure to follow the podcast so you know when the episode drops. I'll likely update you in this thread as well. Thank you!

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Katie Kanning
05:06 Nov 08, 2022

Hi Scott, your episode is officially live on all platforms! Enjoy :) Listen at unpublishednotunknown.com

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07:41 Nov 08, 2022

thanks! I had a listen and it sounds great. Very happy to hear the story read out loud on your podcast.

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Ogunbayo Idowu
16:00 Aug 21, 2022

The story is great. The plot description is something enticing. Great work!

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16:03 Aug 21, 2022

thx! where are you from? hope to see you post a story here someday as well.

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Theresa Tiller
15:34 Aug 20, 2022

Great story! Congrats on a well-deserved win.

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John Passadino
12:55 Aug 20, 2022

Loved this line: “No,” he said. His huge hands were covered in flour, “is there anything else?” (There are many good lines) But the picture this made in my head was indelible. Also, the story flowed very nicely (waiting for Grammarly to tell me if it's "nice" or "nicely"). Funny and original. Well done!

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13:39 Aug 20, 2022

Thx! I read somewhere that bakers have the strongest upper body strength of just about any job out there, and wouldn't bread making be a weird noise next door on a Sunday morning. And I also rely on a free grammar tool, 'https://languagetool.org/', especially, about, where do all the commas, go.

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John Passadino
21:32 Aug 24, 2022

I believe it regarding the baker's strength. I will check out languagetool also. I've used Pro Writing Aide too.

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Philip Ebuluofor
07:45 Aug 20, 2022

When I was reading it last week, I suspected the work was up there with the best. It feels good to see it confirmed by another person. Congrats Scoot.

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07:56 Aug 20, 2022

Thanks for ur support Philip😅

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Philip Ebuluofor
09:58 Aug 21, 2022

My pleasure.

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Mia Fitzpatrick
04:54 Aug 20, 2022

Stunning. Funny. Slightly concerning. Lovely piece, over all. Also, I feel like if my cat died I wouldn't want to replace it because it would be too sad to still see it even though its not the real thing...

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Chandler Wilson
21:34 Aug 19, 2022

Congratulations Scott. Great work!

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02:52 Aug 20, 2022

Thanks Chandler! Let's keep at it;)

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Carolina Mintz
21:09 Aug 19, 2022

As a cat owner, I enjoyed the idea of cloning one's pets. There were real ads for this, years ago - $5K - to clone a dog or cat and it gave me pause (no pun). But I was a bit stunned at Gizmo and Whiskers. I had two cats with those exact names, and asked, "Who's writing this?" Especially since they appeared in the same paragraph. I'm sure, just coincidence. (?)

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02:55 Aug 20, 2022

Whoa it appears Timmy McHill has cloned your cats as well;) I did find a top 50 cat names list to pick from. Gizmo is such a cool name for a cat!

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