Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rikki, Don't Lose That Number

I have a love/hate relationship with my phones. I admit it. And, of course, by "phones," I mean that one of them is a device that allows me to speak to and text friends and family, read and send emails instantly, and search the web for answers to any question that might pop into my mind. I don’t ever have to wait to get back to someone, while I check my Facebook and Pinterest pages or my blog stats on Blogspot. It’s all very convenient. Very efficient. Very cool. The other one just lets me talk which is, well...boring.

I am old enough to remember my Mom talking on the phone and yelling "Get off the line-I hate when you listen in on my calls!" referring to the little old Italian lady across the highway who we shared a party line with. Back then, the only time the phone was used was for emergencies and ordering a pizza on Friday nights.

Enter technology.  A private line and a phone cord so long I could close myself in the hall closet so my brothers and sister couldn't listen to me talking to my BFF or boyfriend.  Surviving teenage angst with seven people and one phone in the house wasn't easy. There was constant knocking on the closet door as I sat on the Electrolux vacuum, either by someone who just wanted to bother me or to find a pair of gloves.

My current phone numbers add to my love/hate thing.  My cell phone is the same as Ocean County Recycling-only it's 732 area code instead of 609.  I can't tell you how many times people call to ask me to pick up a couch, and then get mad when I tell them to call back using the right phone number.  Prior to me getting it, my land line was a transgender after-hours establishment called Pharaoh’s and later Club 115.  Men would call all hours of the day and night asking about club hours, cross dressing and the like.  While I would laugh as my teenagers clamored to grab the phone, claiming "It's for me, it's for MEEE" then shake their heads in utter confusion, Wingman would just blow a gasket.

As I've got older, so have my folks and phone calls take on a different meaning.  I was in Washington DC at a trade show, when Wingman called one morning to say my Mom left a message that my Dad had been in "a little accident, but not to worry". He said he would check it out that night and let me know how he was doing.  On returning to my hotel, I had a slew of messages to call him because Dad's "little accident" was that the scaffolding he was on had broken and he fell backwards 25 feet, crushing three vertebrae in his back. Years later on Christmas Eve morning, my mom called to ask if I could come over while she went BACK to the hospital.  Back? Yes, my dad had chest pains the night before, and was in the cardiac wing. That was a second time that she took it all on herself because she didn't want to call and bother anybody. I also had one day when, as office manager for a busy retirement community, I dispatched one son to the hospital to take care of my mother (who fell off a ladder watering Begonias) and one to their house to look after my dad, only to get a call from a SECOND hospital that Wingman was admitted for A-Fib and had to find my third son to go there.  I'm sure that Alexander Graham Bell had no idea what he was starting when he called for Mr. Watson.

As Wingman's health deteriorated, the use of both phones became almost constant and sometimes were used simultaneously.  Calls between me and the first aid, the hospital, the infuriating doctors who didn't return calls.  Calls to Korea and South Jersey to my sons.  Calls to his family. Then came the phone call on the land line at 2:00 AM that something had gone wrong.  A second call ten minutes later to come to the hospital, and quickly.  Then a hundred more phone calls. I really got to hate those things.

I still have the land line, but since moving back in, it's only rung when Chris Christie or a few other politicians wanted me to vote for them.  My cell phone is something else entirely.  I traded in the flip phone for a smart phone which does everything from wake me up to teach me Korean.  The apps let me pay bills, buy coffee, track my weight and map my way to new places.  Oh and believe it or not, I can use it for calls.

Yesterday, my brother called and wanted to stop over because he needed to talk to me.  The stomach acids churned as I envisioned everything from some new fun in our dysfunctional family to major health issues.  Turns out, he is technically challenged and only needed me to show him how to e-mail a picture from his phone to someone.  Then I got the phone call from Mom.  It was placed during Jeopardy-not a good sign because nothing happens in that house until Alex gives the final question. It was nothing more than she's pulling me off of sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, and giving me an appetizer and dessert to make instead.  I made a note on my task app.  Good cell phone...

Then, at 2:00 in the morning-the same exact time that I got my first call from the hospital about Wingman, the land line rang which is tantamount to the Bat phone.  Only family calls are allowed on that phone at that time of night.

Well, not only family.  It was a man, asking about the club hours and cross dressing dress codes.  On a Monday night. At 2 AM.  To a club that has been defunct for more than a decade. I remembered every last insult and profanity that Wingman used, and I used every last stinking one on him. He apologized profusely as I slammed down the phone and once again considered giving up the land line.

Then again, I'm guessing that my grandkids will someday be fascinated with a device that can only be used to make calls and nothing else.  I may even buy a real long cord so they can use it in the closet.

As long as before then, I can get men to stop calling about cross-dressing.

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