The insurance game is tough. It’s the kind of job where you sign a client, then only talk to them in case of injury, death, damage to property, or worse, to raise their rates. No one’s happy to get a call from their insurance agent. But those are the good days. Then there are days that made you wish you were a farmer.
I’m Mike. I’m a State Farm agent from Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s dishonest work for dishonest pay, but if I didn’t do it someone even worse would. At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s not like my clients are saints, anyway. I was sitting across from two such non-saints late last Thursday night when Tucker told me he was heading out. Tucker is usually the last one in the office, but this night I had to stay late to placate these human papercuts.
The wife wasn’t so much a tall drink of water as much as a small shot of something weak, but easily stiffer than her smug stick figure husband. He walked around with the constant cockeyed smile of a man patiently waiting for his award for buttoning his trousers in the morning. It tired me to talk to him. It exhausted me to listen.
They were there to talk about their favorite subject, the Discount Double Check. It’s when an agent combs through a policy to make sure there aren’t any remaining discounts we can apply to a policy. There never are. It’s just a memorable catch phrase to make people think we’re on their side.
“I found a discount you overlooked on our car insurance policy,” the husband smirked. I told him I’d take a look at it. He insisted that I do so immediately, and the wife proceeded to present me with a folder including a copy of their policy, printouts from the State Farm website, and assorted other documents, highlighted for my ease. The husband pointed to a bullet point.
“Right there. Drive Safe & Save Program. We meet all the qualifications.” They leaned back into what they thought were appropriate “checkmate” postures. I sighed. “Unfortunately, the Drive Safe & Save Program does not apply in Wisconsin.” The wife was incredulous: “It applies in California. And that’s where we first signed up for our policy.”
We were interrupted by a rapping at the door. “We’re closed–” I reflexively began, before realizing who it was staring in through the glass front door. It was Cheesehead Marty.
Poor Marty. He was never the sharpest cheddar in the fridge, but a couple blows to the head playing high school ball left him cross-eyed and slow-witted. Now he wanders the city with that damned cheese hat. He likes to come by the store because every once in awhile football players stop by, but he has to stay outside because he pees on the floor. Everyone laughs at him. I don’t find it funny.
“MIKE!” he bellowed in a raspy tenor as I strolled to the door. “DISCOUNT DOUBLE CHECK!”
“We’re closed, Marty. Time to go home.”
“Go home, Marty.”
“HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE!”
“Yep. That’s what I sell.”
“Yep. Go home, Marty.”
Suddenly, Marty’s face froze in a panic as he stared over my shoulder. A dark stain swelled the front of his sweatpants. He whimpered. “God damn it, Marty,” I muttered as I opened the door to help him, though what exactly I planned to do I’m not sure. Before I could do anything, though, he took off, speed-waddling away as fast as his ham hocks could carry him.
Turning around, I saw what spooked poor Marty. It was the husband, standing behind me, hand extended, a pea shooter in said hand trained in my direction. On his face, the smirk was gone. There was only desperation. He motioned for me to sit back down and I did.
“We need that discount, Mike. And you’re gonna give it to us.”
“Of course. No problem. There’s no problem. I’ll do it right now.”
Crazy bastard takes his insurance seriously. Only problem was I couldn’t give them the discount. Even if they bought the policy in California, there was no way to give it to them as long as they lived in the quaint confines of Wisconsin. The computer just wouldn’t let me do it.
I logged into the client database and entered their policy number. Hammered out a few nifty sounding keystrokes. Paused for what seemed like an appropriate interval. Then looked up, folded my hands, and gave them a big toothy Sajak.
“All set. Sorry I missed it the first time.”
They exchanged a glance. Then looked back at me. Finally, the smirk returned. “Takes a big man to admit it. Pleasure doing business with you again, Mike.” He stood and turned to leave, then paused and doubled back. “So what’s our new rate?”
Math. God damnit. I can do basic sums as well as the next guy but you try figuring out 6.5% of 165 with a gun in your face. I stared at the screen like a chimp staring at a chessboard until it became clear that I didn’t have the answer.
With alarming quickness, the husband swooped around the desk and tipped my chair on its back, crouching down and shoving the gun against my temple. “The discount or your life,” he snarled. I asked him why the damn discount was so important to him. His eyes glazed over. The smirk went crazed: “Do you know how expensive meth is in Green Bay? We’re not in New Mexico or anything. We have to pay extra shipping costs and shit, so we need to pinch every penny, and you scamming us on discounts that we god damn deserve isn’t gonna fly, so now, for the last time, will you GIVE US THE FUCKING DISCOUNT?”
That’s when I heard what felt like an angel’s song, a cry that washed over me like the cleansing waters of the river Jordan.
The husband whipped around to find Cheesehead Marty standing in the door, pointing. With him and marching toward the husband was Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He looked pissed. The husband swung his arm but it was too late. Rodgers knocked the gun out of his hand, grabbed the husband by the throat and slammed him against the wall.
“Hey buddy–” the husband croaked, “–listen, I’m–”
“My name is Aaron fucking Rodgers,” Rodgers growled. “How the fuck do you know B. J. Raji and not me? You remember the god damned nose tackle, but somehow the fucking quarterback slips your mind?”
Rodgers hurled the husband to the ground and removed his belt. The husband rose to all fours, coughing and sputtering. Rodgers walked up behind him: “And my touchdown dance? It’s a belt. Let’s make sure you remember.” And Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wrapped his belt around the husband’s neck and began to squeeze.
Marty, the wife and I looked on in frozen horror as Rodgers suffocated the poor husband, his watery, red eyes bulging out of his head, skin turning blue. I wanted to help him. I wanted to yell. All I managed to do was sit there and thank the good lord that it was his neck, not mine, that was crumpling like a soda can.
But at the last minute, Rodgers loosened the belt, just barely, and the husband managed to sucked down a golf ball of air, if that. “Still alive?” Rodgers muttered. Then he shrugged. “Discount Double Check.” Rodgers re-tightened the belt and finished the job.
When the husband’s limp body fell to the floor, there was a long silence. Finally, Rodgers turned to eye the wife. She returned his gaze blankly.
Then a cheshire grin oozed across her face.
“Aaron, darling,” she purred, “I thought you’d never come.”
“Yeah, cheese-brain was a little late relaying the signal.”
“CHANGED PANTS!” Marty chimed in.
Rodgers picked up the body while the wife guided me into the chair at my desk. “Now Mike,” she cooed, “I know suicides are a lot of busywork for you agents, so you’re gonna want to get started first thing in the morning.” Rodgers stood up on a chair, hoisting the body up along with him. I was still shell shocked. “I… suicide?”
“Tragic, I know,” the wife continued, “That my abusive, meth addicted husband decided to cut his life short. Good thing I took out that big State Farm life insurance policy. Thanks for your help with that.” Rodgers looped the other end of the belt around a ceiling pipe, suspending the body from the ceiling.
Rodgers then went to the wife, where they shared a more than friendly kiss. She shot me a coy look: “So you better get home and get some rest, Mike. Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day.” They turned and, arm in arm, walked to the edge of the store.
“So what,” I called after them, “you’re just gonna assume that I’m not gonna tell the cops?” The wife looked back with a grin: “I know you’re not gonna tell them. Not because you’re a good man. Not because you’re a bad one. Because you’re a good insurance agent. Because you’re there for your clients. Like a good neighbor.” And with that, the wife and Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the store.
For a while I just sat there, listening to the hum of the fluorescents. Then I opened the bottom desk drawer, retrieved my whiskey bottle, poured a stiff slug and knocked it back. “Am I really gonna let them get away with this?” I mumbled to no one in particular.
“FORGET IT MIKE, IT’S GREEN BAY!” Cheesehead Marty screeched as he peed on the floor.