Where’s a Four-Leaf Clover When You Need It?

As I sat at my desk kicking around ideas for this post, I focused on St. Patrick’s Day for the theme since many of us will be wearing green in two weeks. And for me, when I start brainstorming, I quickly find my initial idea morphs into another and yet another, and soon the idea coming out the other end is totally different from the starting point. Sorta like the old “telephone game,” but with an idea.

So, here’s a scary peek inside my head to see how this recent brainstorming session went.

I started thinking of St. Patrick’s Day and all that it represented here in the States. That got me thinking of people wearing green, parades, raucous celebrations in bars with green beer flowing, corn beef and cabbage (an American tradition, not Irish), and the shamrock.

That got me curious about what exactly is a shamrock. So, I jumped on the Internet and came across an interesting fact:  all shamrocks are clovers, but not all clovers are shamrocks. That’s because a clover must have three leaves in order to be a shamrock. The three leaves stand for faith, hope and love. If it has more or less leaves, it’s not a shamrock. It’s just a clover.

Just a clover? But, what about the four-leaf clover? How is that “just a clover?”

Back to the Internet. Apparently, the fourth leaf stands for—you guessed it—luck. That’s because four-leaf clovers are rare, so if you find one, that’s lucky. Obviously. As a kid, I remember being on my hands and knees searching for one. And rarely finding it. However, I do carry a laminated one in my bowling bag that my daughter found for me (hint hint: this is important for later).

So now I have lucky four-leaf clovers on the brain, and it got me thinking about a friend, who I’ll call Jane. She recently regaled me of an experience with her new mortgage company. Jane’s existing mortgage was sold so she called the new company to update her mortgage information. And like my good friend Leslie and her ongoing battles with the cable company’s automated answering system, Jane quickly found herself in an uncomfortably similar situation.

When the answering system picked up on her call, and after Jane waded through multiple menus of, “If you are calling about blah blah blah, hit whatever,” she finally got to where she could talk to a “real person” in customer service.

Ah, but we know it’s never that simple.

That’s because she was politely told by the talking bot that she was number 654 in line! I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER heard of somebody being in a line that long.

And now I think you’re starting to see why my four-leaf clover got me thinking about Jane.

As she patiently waited on the line for a real person, being lulled to sleep by a tinny string quartet, the bot kept saying, “For an immediate call back from the next available representative, hit one.” Like Leslie, and probably many of us, Jane has considerable scar tissue built up with automated answering systems. Consequently, as the bot kept repeating what sounded like a wonderful offer of a call back, poor Jane became increasingly more paranoid. She was scared to hit that number one because she said, “it felt like a trap.” With her being number 654, the last thing she wanted was a call back at midnight.

As Jane frantically considered her situation, she pictured the call back person sitting back watching Netflix and laughing with a colleague, saying, “Man, what a bunch of suckers these callers are. What do you want to watch next? They can wait another hour. Unless you want to watch a movie. We’ve got time.”

Then she thought if she stayed on the line, it would show her dedication. And she just might wear them down to the point where they would throw in the towel and talk to her. She knew they were trying to wear her down, but she steeled herself, determined to wear them down first.

As Jane held firm, refusing to press that number one for a call back, a horrific thought popped into her head. What if they brought out the big guns and started repeating the same god-awful song over and over and over and over and over and over again. And—repeat. Again.

The thought of the tinny strings living in her head for eternity drove Jane to do the inconceivable. Thirty minutes of the strings was one thing, but an eternity was a whole other commitment she wasn’t ready to take. Jane said a quick prayer, sucked in a deep breath, hit one—and hung up.

Clearly the company’s service reps selected a movie to watch on Netflix, because three hours later Jane finally received her call back. By this time, she had taken a walk, ordered/received/unpacked her groceries, and was almost finished making dinner.

While she was on the phone with the representative, and trying to stop dinner from burning, Jane’s dog came in from outside with something in her mouth. Chaos ensued between stopping dinner from being charcoal, to shouting home address information to the phone that was now on speaker, and lastly attempting to dislodge the apparent bright blue tar attached to her dog’s back molar. Realizing her multitasking attempts were lacking, Jane explained the situation to the rep and asked if he could call her back.

He said no. “We’ve had an extremely high call volume today.” No doubt the customer service team was queuing up another movie to watch.

Jane reluctantly told him that she would have to hang up and update her info at another time because she was concerned about this blue thing that was in her pet’s mouth. After a pause, he said he would wait on the line while she attended to her dog. Eventually Jane cleared the blue thing from her pet’s mouth and finished up with the mortgage company. But not without emotional trauma.

So how does this have anything to do with a four-leaf clover? Well, I happen to know for a fact that if she just had a four-leaf clover before making the call, she would have been number one in the line.

Why?

Because, unbeknownst to Jane, my mortgage was also recently sold to this company and I had to call to update my information.

And I was number one in line.

No call back necessary.

And that’s because I have a laminated four-leaf clover in my bowling bag. 😉

After reading this post and finding out about my good fortune, Jane is probably dashing out the front door on a four-leaf clover hunt. Perhaps I should probably loan her mine.

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations – because you just survived a look inside my head. I went from St. Patrick’s Day to a battle with a mortgage company’s automated phone system. So you see, I might start off with one idea, but by the time I’m finished, things are in a totally different place.

Now imagine me plotting out a book. The finished product is never like my initial idea. And that’s not a bad thing, either.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

-B.T.

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