The following is a transcript of a conversation between Bob, a telemarketer for a cemetary outside Louisville Kentucky, and phone prankster comedian Tom Mabe. Name of cemetary changed to protect the guilty.
Bob: Is Mr. or Mrs. Maybe in please?
Mabe: This is Mr. Mabe. [Sounds of Mabe crying.]
Bob: Hi, Mr. Mabe. This is Bob, and I’m calling to you from Evergreen Cemetary. How are you today?
Mabe: Not that good.
Bob: Oh, I’m sorry. The reason I’m calling you today is to offer you some peace of mind through pre-arranged burial plots. You can rest assured that all of the details can be taken care of for you. [Sounds of Mabe sobbing] …Sir?
Mabe: Bob, you’re not going to believe this. I lost my job on Thursday. Company closed shop. My— My wife left me.
Bob: Oh, I’m sorry.
Mabe: And I’m sitting— But this— This is so bizarre. I was sitting here just contemplating suicide, and I was praying, asking God for a sign.
Bob: Yeah, but I’m just calling you because your name is on the list.
Mabe: But no, you don’t understand, just five minutes ago I was— I was just praying and asking God for a sign, and you called.
Bob: Yeah, but I’m just doing my job.
Mabe: I know, I know, but— Something’s in control, I don’t know what it is. You’re the Angel of Death, man!
Bob: Listen, is there anybody that I can call for you?
Mabe: I’ve been working with this company for about six years now, and we just got a bigger house. We have a two-bedroom house. And I lost my job. The company, they just shut down. My wife, she’s just frustrated, she’s back in Vermont. And—things aren’t working.
Bob: Do you have any kids we can call, we can contact?
Mabe: He’s six years old. He’s at his grandmother’s house. I mean, you don’t understand. I mean—just five minutes ago I was praying, saying, God, help me through this, give me a sign of some sort—and you called.
Bob: No, no, I’m not that sign.
Mabe: You’re the Angel of Death.
Bob: Look, I can call someone and have somebody come right over there for you.
Mabe: No, I’m glad that you called. I could use your services here. I mean, how much is this stuff?
Bob: Well, you know, we have different price ranges for different sorts of plots.
Mabe: Is it, is it— So it is kind of expensive, though, some of it?
Bob: No, it’s very affordable, and this way you could take care of it all.
Mabe: Do you take financing down there?
Bob: Mr. Mabe, you know, you just got done saying that you’re thinking of taking your life. Do you have, I don’t know, a credit card? Or a checking account?
Mabe: Hold on. [Sounds of Mabe crying.]
Bob: Let me ask you this: if I got the paperwork out to you, say, this afternoon, do you think you could maybe hold off until tomorrow?
—Reported in Harper’s Magazine