By Maria Gershuni
The emails started out innocuous enough:
“You have four days left to enter your name into NameCoach. You will not be allowed to enter the Grad Fair to pick up tickets and/or your cap and gown until your name is recorded.”
That’s fine, I reasoned. I had already gotten my cap and gown from my local cap and gown dealer behind The Front Page, and I didn’t need any graduation tickets, because my family had disowned me after a brief fling I had with a StratBro. Question my judgment all you want, Grandma, but he was 6 foot 4 — and how tall was grandpa again? Exactly. I ignored the email.
The next day, I received another, more concerning email.
“You have three days left to enter your name into NameCoach. You will not be allowed to walk at graduation until your name is recorded.”
I paused to think. Well I much prefer sitting, because sitting has chairs and walking does not. I ignored the email.
Then the next day,
“You have two days left to enter your name into NameCoach. You will not be allowed back into school until your name is recorded.”
Joke’s on you, SAIS, I wasn’t planning on going to class anyway, and all my finals are take-home.
Then, the one that made me panic.
“You have ONE day left to enter your name into NameCoach. You will not see your daughter alive again until your name is recorded.”
I couldn’t ignore that. I didn’t even know I had a daughter, and now her life was being dangled in front of me until I recorded my name onto a platform I had never heard of. What was my daughter’s name? How old was she? I should probably call that StratBro, he might know. At least she would be tall.
I decided I couldn’t ignore the emails any longer. I needed to do this — if not for me — for my child. I opened the platform and entered my name, my “name country of origin” (Um, what?) and my phone number. And then I got a robocall.
I had been getting a lot of these robocalls lately. From Mauritius, from Senegal, from Belarus. The best part was, they all had the same disconcerting female robot voice that was also employed by this NameCoach system, so I felt very comfortable handing over my personal information through the phone.
“Record your name,” the women ordered. I did my best to comply.
“You recorded MSIBHF GIHBOJBVDL,” the woman said. Well…that’s not my name, but close enough. I pressed the nine key and hung up.
Before I submitted my form, I took some time to read the terms and conditions, as I always do when the life of my daughter is at stake.
NameCoach, I discovered, had the right to retain the recording of my voice saying my name indefinitely, even if I asked them to delete it. When the sun finally implodes and envelops us all in a fiery inferno, I can rest easy knowing that the recording of my name will live on in NameCoach.
NameCoach also had the right to sell that information to third parties. What a great opportunity for me! I was sure they would Venmo me the profits they made after selling my information. I might even be able to quit my Herbalife influencer side gig if my information was in high demand.
All in all, I never got my daughter back. But right now, I am on the phone with the robot woman who, according to caller ID, is in Madagascar. She is asking for my social security number. Maybe she will help me find my daughter. It will be hard to miss her. She is tall.