Thursday, October 11, 2012


I'm not much of a telephone person.  I have an unlisted number, favour written communication over spoken, and keep the land line only for the sake of emergencies. Sometimes, I get calls to remind me of appointments, the odd poll taker-that sort of thing. When the phone rang at 2PM Monday, I figured it was about delivery of the new washing machine. What I heard on the other end was:

"Hiiiiieeeee, I'm (super-fast-sing-song-up-inflecting-young woman) calling (again, so fast I couldn't make it out) is (more blather ending on a high note which I suspected was a question but given the pitch of the rest of it, I couldn't be certain)?

Look, I'm middle aged, almost completely deaf in one ear, and somewhat grumpy when I feel my time is being wasted. I hold the phone to my good ear, and I had the volume at high. I wasn't having difficulty hearing her, but I was having a hell of a time understanding her. I asked her to repeat it.

"Bleeeeeeeeie, bluuuuuh, chiper-chipper-uh, you know eeee...Chadron State."

OK, so at least we got as far as Chadron State. She was calling from a college, or trying to call a college.

"One more time please? I asked.

(Somewhat less chipper at this point) "Is Kelsey there?"

Oh, she was calling from the admissions office for someone named Kelsey. That took three tries. Not wanting some poor kid to miss an important call from an admissions office, I explained that this was a wrong number, and that she should check it, or make note of it so they can get in touch with poor Kelsey who is probably waiting to hear from the admissions office.

Here's where Danny says I was, "mean."  He used the word mean. I told the person on the other end of the line that if she intends to keep working on the telephone she ought to pursue diction lessons, as it shouldn't take three attempts to understand the purpose of the call.

"You told some kid to get diction lessons. That's mean." He insists.
"I told her that if she intends to use the phone in a business situation she should take a class."
"You told her she needed to get diction lessons-that's really mean. You have an accent."
"I do, but you can understand me. There's nothing wrong with a regional accent provided it is clear you are speaking the same language.
"You're mean."

At least I resist the urge to insist young cashiers  count back change when they hand you your notes and coins in an unsorted pile. God, I hate that. Probably further evidence of my meanness.

The following day, I got another call from Chadron State, but at least I could understand that one. I dunno, if your name is Kelsey, and you're waiting for a call from admissions at Chadron State, maybe you better get on the horn and give 'em a holler. Or not. Maybe this is some sort of sign that they'll screw up your records a week before graduation, and you'll never get your diploma.

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