The Subtle Voice Retooler Machine

Have you ever wanted to call in sick, but didn’t have the acting ability to pull it off? Well, have I got the product for you. The self-patented Subtle Voice Retooler Machine that Makes Yourself Sound Sick on the Phone is now available at stores near you, provided you live in our warehouse. For anyone else, call now! Only $99.95, or whatever you would earn in any given week, whichever is larger. Our operators are standing by, because we won’t give them chairs. As previously stated, call now!

So the television ad ran. With advertising like that, how could I refuse? I didn’t have to call, because I live in a box in their warehouse. When my landlord handed me the device, I instantly tried it out. Essentially it was a machine that made you sound ill when calling into work. It had features like “Raspy,” “Hoarse,” “Coughing,” and “Rude gaseous explosions.” How could it fail?

So, I called into the office. My boss picked up the phone. “Hello?” he said in his trademark nasal tone.

“Yes, hello, I would like to call in sick, please.”

“Who is this, Hillary Clinton?”

There was a pause and shuffle as I turned off “Hillary Clinton” mode. “Um, no, this is loyal employee #512-83. I’d like to call in sick.”

“Yeah, you sound pretty bad,” he said. This was it. I was in. Or, um, out. “You should take the day off.” A pause. “I really have no idea who you are. Why did we assign all of you those stupid numbers? I wanted to name people after various types of fruit. But no, they said. Numbers are much better than fruit. But now look. I’m talking to someone I could very well see every day, and have no clue about it. I mean, it sounds like I’m talking to Danny DeVito, but who’s to know? Really, I’m quite sorry. Take the day off.”

“All right,” I said. “Thank you.”

Before I could hang up, though, my boss said, “But don’t expect a job when you get back, Watermelon,” and hung up.

Confused, I decided to conduct an experiment. I called my cell phone from a pay phone near my box, and heard this recorded message: “The following is a call from an actual hypochondriac. It is not recommended for people with heart conditions, who have a history of cyanide poisoning, or who are extremely gullible. Listener discretion is advised for anyone who would actually believe this jerk. This call may be monitored for quality purposes.”

How there was time for that before the boss answered is still a mystery to me.

Until next time, this is Xavier Yes. Stay classical. I’m going out to get a good spot in the unemployment line.



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