“I’m Not Sure If That’s a Threat or a Promise”


I work remotely for an insurance call center handling complex technical calls, taking escalations, and handling some light underwriting work. Most of my calls are ho-hum technical calls, a lot of which involve me teaching reps more about insurance than training ever did. I handle escalations about billing and underwriting, which are almost always a variation of “How dare you tell me that you won’t insure me for free!” I work a late shift, so I handle more than just the Garden Variety Crazy or Demanding Karen. I handle the ones who are willing to call an insurance company at 2 a.m. to yell at someone.

Your intrepid writer is logged in bracing for her first call of the day. This one is an escalation from a sales rep who’s still green behind the ears. Meh.

Apparently, we denied the customer a policy. The reason for the denial did not immediately display for the representative, so the customer demanded a supervisor.

The customer comes in screaming on the other line. Not screaming like your typical irate customer listening to our hold muzak on a loop, but like one who might have contracted rabies during said wait. I could practically hear this one frothing at the mouth. He’s all upset because the prior representative couldn’t tell him why we denied him a policy, just kept telling him to contact Underwriting and send in a dispute.

Me: “Well Sir, with some of our quote blocks, it encourages you to contact Underwriting for a dispute should you feel the need to question our reasoning to decline you a policy. Did you need that email?”

Rabid Screamer: “No, I don’t NEED the email address, you dumb b\*\*\*h! I…JUST…WANT…TO…KNOW…WHY…YOU…WON’T…WRITE…ME…A…POLICY!”

Me (marveling at the set of lungs this one has): “I’ll thank you in advance for keeping the conversation civil. Now, do you mind if I put you on a brief hold while I do some additional research? This will probably take me three to five minutes.”

Rabid Screamer: “LIKE I HAVE A F\*\*KING CHOICE!”

Me (indifferent to the screams of the hydrophobic manchild): “Thank you. Please hold.”

I have a hunch. I type in Rabid Screamer’s name into our system to see if he’d previously been insured with us. Sure enough, I find a canceled policy. I access it and do a little bit of digging. A little digging becomes a jackpot I’m pretty sure most people haven’t hit at this company.

See, as it turns out, Rabid Screamer has a policy with a more colorful history of multiple sorts. The notes on this canceled policy are impressive, even by my high standards. The midterm cancel reason shows Underwriting, but multiple policy documents indicate that this policy would have nonrenewed due to this guy’s ***catastrophically horrible*** driving record. However, in the course of his most recent claim on that policy (which triggered the nonrenewal notice), we figure out that Rabid Screamer was also a lying liar about some important facts. Facts that are important enough to determine whether or not coverage would have applied. So we decide to cancel him in the middle of the term rather than let him have his policy for two more months. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. Per the notes, he calls after having read the notices and threatens ***multiple people*** in Claims, Customer Service, and Underwriting with all sorts of things. We even have copious records from *Security* on this policy. I even see the words “bomb threat” in there.

Having this information at my fingertips, I go back on the line.

Me (Prepping the knives for the kill): “Hi, Rabid Screamer, thank you for patiently holding-”


Me (Going in for the kill): “Great, you can go get a policy, but it’ll need to be from another company. We’re declining a policy based on past threats to employees in multiple departments as well as past misrepresentations on a claim with this company.”


My reaction is dead silence. I’m trying really hard not to laugh at the absurdity of this conversation. I’m also wondering how to get this specimen off my line quickly.

Me (Sharpening the knives some more): “I’m not sure if that’s a threat or a promise, but I’ll remind you again to keep the conversation polite with me regardless.”

He hangs up on me.

Oddly, I’m a little disappointed in this response. I sort of wish he would have stayed on the line. I genuinely have so many questions about the phrase “c\*\*twaffle” that I want, nay, DEMAND to have answered. First, is “c\*\*twaffle” a compound word or two separate words? Is it a smelly waffle or genitalia resembling a waffle? Why does it smell like that, if it’s the former? If the latter, are we talking Belgian or Eggo? Why waffles and not something like sausage or biscuits? Combining “c\*\*t” with “biscuit” seems like a more logical insult in the breakfast food/genitalia fusion genre. This is almost as amusing as the fact that this guy thinking we’d insure him again after we canceled him for the reasons we did.

These are the thoughts that I have as I submit a new security request for this most recent number to be blocked. The fact that the rest of that day is relatively calm does not sadden me one iota.


What do you think?

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Is it still teambuilding when they hate you?

Do you guys also develop an ” Angry tone ” over time ?