Tuesday, May 12, 2020


A rather different story on my reading list about a mysterious phone conversation reminds me of a traumatic event of my early/mid-childhood - I must have been about 4 or 5 - that probably explains my anxiety about using the telephone.

Instead of speaking with my grandfather first and then putting me on the phone to say a few words, my parents decided it was time for me to initiate the conversation. But I was still too young to dial the number, so they did that and then handed me the phone while it was still ringing at the other end.

The ensuing typical grandfather-and-grandson conversation had proceeded for some time before any incongruities in the exchanges penetrated my trusting and juvenile brain.

I was talking to somebody else's grandfather. My parents had misdialed the number. "Hello, Grandpa, it's [very common first name in my generation]" just happened to be a greeting this guy would also expect to hear.

That's one reason that, for instance, if I get an answering message that doesn't identify the party by name, I'm still apt to hastily terminate the call, check the number carefully and call again.

2) You'd think in these days of stored numbers that wouldn't happen. But I still get a lot of calls whose callers take a long time to grasp that they've dialed the wrong number, no matter how puzzled or frosty my replies to their cryptic (to me) friendly greetings.

2a) It never happens to me when I call the number; I'm just terrified that it will.

3) I'm trapped in another kind of phone hell because I can only communicate with this investment through my broker. My broker sends me a form, I call to ask a question about it, my broker says she'll call the company. Three hours later, she calls back. The company thinks I have an old form. I say I don't think so, since it says "Rev. 12.19" on it - also I'm thinking it's unlikely an entire major option has disappeared in five months. She says she'll call them back. Four hours later, I'm still waiting. By now it's the end of the day.

4) E-mail exchange with a colleague with whom I hadn't communicated in several months includes him saying, "Now my entire life seems to be spent on video calls." Apart from the Easter one with B. to her family, I haven't had one of those yet. My first solo attempt comes with a committee meeting in two days. I tremble.

5) I still haven't found my cell phone.

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