My grandfather hated telemarketers and when the phone would ring, he would wait for the person on the other end of the line to offer him something. It was then, and only then, that I would hear him break out into the fluent Polish language that he grew up with but vowed to never speak again. Eventually, that’s how he got rid of each and every unwanted caller.
These days, we have the Do-Not-Call list to help trim down the amount of annoying calls that happen just around dinnertime. But they still come through, and thanks to caller ID, we have a real choice to decide whether or not we want to answer the phone.
When my phone rings with an unfamiliar number, I expect it to be a recorded voice telling me that I won a trip to the Bahamas or asking me to take a survey. My choices are as follows: ignore the phone call, answer it and politely listen to what is being said, or, what has been my go-to fun for quite some time, answer the phone in a ridiculous way. (I don’t speak fluent Polish.)
I have answered in foreign accents. I have pretended to be a hard of hearing little old lady. I have lowered my voice and grunted. Of all of these things, I am not particularly proud, but it passes the time and as someone who refuses to grow up, I can think of no better way to deal with these calls.
But then one evening the phone rang, and something happened. As usual, I looked at the number, which came from a town in another state. “I don’t know anyone from that part of Michigan,” I said to my daughter, hit the answer button on the phone and proceeded to make a ripping flatulence noise and mumble “yallo?” from the side of my mouth.
There was, as usual, a pause. This is normally where the recording kicks in. But this time after the pause, I heard, “Mrs. McAllister?” and I got that sinking feeling in my stomach that I had just done something that would make me want to slap myself.
And so, it is with great sincerity that I would like to publicly apologize to my daughter’s teacher who called to update us on one of her extra curricular activities that had been planned for the week. A fairly new teacher, he had recently moved to the area and thus was calling with an out-of-state cell number and didn’t realize he was calling an out-of-her-mind parent who somehow, at nearly 40 years old, still thinks fart noises are funny.
Just in case he ever has to call again, I have his number saved and will politely say “hello” as soon as I finish laughing.
Originally written 1.10.16