Posted by: patenttranslator | August 5, 2010

I Am Not The Coast Guard!

I have received another letter from another corporation addressed to “Dear” informing me about changes in the company’s procurement systems that include “system implementations and updates”. The letter takes up two single spaced pages, it lists locations all over the country with different formats for invoices depending on your location according to different “transition dates” in about 1,200 words.

I translated two long Japanese patents for a technician working for this company 3 years ago. I suspect that this particular employee, who sounded like an elderly gentleman, retired in the meantime so that now nobody at the corporation really knows who I am or what it is that I did or could do for them. But I am still on their mailing list. And will be for years to come. Maybe even after I’m dead. The instructions for preparing invoices went promptly into the wastepaper basket. If you ever send me another job, Dear Corporation, which I doubt, I will prepare my invoice the same way that I have been preparing invoices for the last 23 years.

For the last 5 years I have been receiving bills for 0 dollars and 0 cents from Cox Communications. This is because 5 years ago, I switched my business phone number from Cox to Verizon and kept only my home phone number with Cox (so that I don’t mix up the phone bills when I do my taxes). I called Cox, and they said they would fix it. That was about 4 years ago. The bills for 0 dollars and 0 cents keep coming, several times a year. And I have to open them because I have my home number with them and what if I do owe them something? After I switched from Verizon back to Cox a year ago (the only difference between them is that Cox provides internet security software for all of my computers, so I switched to them), I discovered that Verizon is sending me the same bills for zero dollars and zero cents).

Why is that, I wonder? Do they think it that this is going to make it more likely that I will switch back to them again? There must be reason why they waste all this money on postage, but I don’t know what it is.

My home phone number is listed for some reason as the information number for Coast Guard Recruitment. Maybe it was the information number for Coast Guard Recruitment before the phone company gave me the number almost 10 years ago, but it’s probably just some mistake. They would not discontinue, retire, and reassign an information number like that, would they? I called the phone company and got to talk to a real person who actually located my number in some directory and said that she would take care of it. But the phone calls keep coming. About once a week I have to explain to somebody that I am not the Coast Guard. I AM NOT THE COAST GUARD! DO I LOOK (SOUND) LIKE THE COAST GUARD TO YOU?

Fortunately, people who are eager to work for Coast Guard are usually former military or navy, they seem very polite and all they need is one short explanation. It’s more complicated when it comes to my toll free number and my cell phone number.

My 800 number is one number off the 800 number for a company call L.A. TAN – a tanning salon in Los Angeles. I pick up the phone when it rings, and there’s a woman on the other end of the line who always says the same thing to me: “Is this L.A. TAN?”

Women have been saying the same kind of thing to me all my life, I’m kind of used to it. But now they think that I am L.A. TAN! I thought I was so smart when I placed an order for a custom-made 800 phone number for my business some 20 years ago. But if you have an 800 number number that is easy to remember because people can dial it while looking at letters instead of numbers, a lot of people will misdial. And you have to pay for every incoming call with 800 numbers, just like with cell phone numbers.

My cell phone number is one digit away from some doctor’s office in Suffolk. Old ladies keep leaving messages in my voice mail, asking for a doctor’s appointment. Sometime twice because I never call them back.

Here’s a depressing thought: There is no way that we can communicate with corporations or the government as individuals any more. Especially since now, the corporations are the government, just like Mussolini predicted 80 years ago. In fact, I am not even sure that communication is possible among individuals either.

All is lost. We will have to start from scratch again.


  1. […] are dealing with your customers, and I am usually polite even when dealing with complete strangers as I write for instance in this blog. But like everything else, politeness is a two-way street. A couple of weeks ago I gave somebody a […]


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