Sometimes I get so busy or tired that I forget who I’m calling. I’ll just be spacing out about something and listening to the phone ring and all of a sudden someone will say hello and I’ll have no idea who it is. Lots of times I’ll recognize the voice and just jump right in to a conversation like nothing ever happened. But sometimes the voice isn’t familiar, and I’ll have to think really fast about who it was I called in the first place. I’ve had to just hang up before, rather than ask who it was. I mean I called them…
It’s easier to do this these days than it used to be– to forget who you’re calling in between dialing and when they answer. First of all we don’t really dial anymore; we just push a button. Not even seven buttons, either– usually just one. And it’s really not even a button– it’s just a shape on the face of a screen. These days we just tap our fingertips on a piece of plastic and pretty soon someone’s saying hello to us. No wonder we don’t always know who it is!
And now touching our fingers on a plastic screen has turned into kind of an outrage, so we just say right into the plastic “call Bono” and pretty soon Bono is saying hello to us. Luckily Bono has a really distinctive voice, plus he’s constantly using it all over the place– so we know it’s him. Same with Cher, and also Sting. Most of the single-named people have pretty recognizable voices so you don’t have to hang up on them. Ghandi. Flea. Kailash. Great conversation…
But occassionally you have to call Mike from RugPlanet or Wu from ReMax or your paleontologist’s office– and chances are pretty good that you’re just going to have to hang up on someone once in a while.
Sometimes they’ll call you back. That’s when you have a decision to make. If you still haven’t figured out who it was you called, at least at this point you’ll have a chance to find out. Usually I just let it ring through to voicemail of course, but sometimes I’ll answer and just rub the plastic phone face down on the pavement really hard while calling out “hello? HELLO?!” and then hang up. That way, the person thinks I’m in a carwash or forest fire and that’s why I couldn’t talk with them in the first place.
That’s like buttdial, which has gotten pretty popular with the emergence of the genius phones. With buttdial, it’s actually your butt that places the call to begin with, without even telling your ear or your mouth about it. The phone is in your butt and you may or may not hear the person on the other end of the line saying hello, depending on what you had for lunch. It still sounds like a carwash to the other person– it’s just more fun saying “buttdial.”
Though technology has made accidentally calling someone on the phone with your butt easier to do, these types of problems are nothing new. In 1974, my grandmother came over to the house where I lived with my mom & sister. The telephone had already been invented by that time, and in fact we had one at the house. But nana lived in the neighborhood, and she was coming to call, as they said in those days. More accurately, she was probably coming to argue, as she & my mother were in some kind of quarrel at the time. I remember standing behind my mom in the entry of the house. We’d heard nana’s car door close, and my mom was looking out the peephole. Just as her mother reached the porch and extended her long, bony finger to ring the doorbell, my mother knocked on the inside of the door. I heard my nana say “who’s there?” from the other side, instinctively answering a knock at the door– something we certainly heard more of in those days. After a brief pause, my mom threw open the door and there stood nana, her finger still pointed in the air, just puzzling and trying to figure out who she’d called. We all looked at each other and the two of them burst out laughing and stood there in the entry having a goddamned laugh riot until I finally went to bed. Their argument ended right then, of course, and my mom & I still laugh about that to this day, which is December 1st.
The holidays aren’t conventionally a good time to sell your house, but I’m blogging you right now that buyers are screwing themselves into the ground looking for inventory. Let’s give everyone what they’re too afraid to ask Santa for this year– a real estate miracle!