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by Trent Walters

Grimmy's fingertips nervously tapped the keyboard on his first day as a communications specialist. Mr. Boss put his mind at rest by spreading his arms to take in the small blue cubicle space, nearly knocking down one partition. "See? It's simple. Nag until they give, so you have no twinge of conscience if you press the disconnect."

Grimmy adjusted his headset to give his hands something to do other than tap the keyboard. "Oh, sir. I have no twinge of conscious about asking money for charities."

"Great! Then you're ready for your first call." Boss had spread his arms wide again, which made Grimmy blink a few times until he suspected the Boss' gesture was a symbol for what the company did: gave people second and third chances to be generous souls.

Grimmy hit the call button. A man answered, "Hello?" and his name appeared onscreen. "Hello, Mr. Walters. Every year, thousands of children die due to faulty deflector shields. You and your beautiful children may be next, resulting in death, deformity, or agonizingly painful disease. All proceeds from your donation to the deflector shield repairman's bilge are tax-destructible."

"I'm sorry," said the voice that was purported to be Mr. Walters', "but I don't give over the vidphone. Put me on your do-not-call list."

Boss whispered into the ear of Grimmy, who might have otherwise remained frozen in unbelief. Grimmy repeated the whisper: "What amount can we put you down for?"

"We must have a bad connection. I said I don't give over the vid. You don't even display your face. How can I scan it to know if you're legitimate?"

"Trust me. We're too legit to quit. What amount can we put you down for?"

"Maybe you're hard of hearing. I'll trust you to put me on your do-not-call list. Thanks!"

The dial tone buzzed in Grimmy's ear. His eyelashes restrained brimming tears. Why would the man's heart be so hard after Grimmy had been so earnest and eager? His finger hovered over the disconnect button that glowed, "Lower deflector shields in this man's neighborhood."

"It's okay." Boss squeezed Grimmy's shoulder. "Last week, this same soulless bastard forced me to press the 'Straight to Hell' button when he refused to donate to the religious fund for demon-possessed toe-fungus in West Africa."

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