I pick up the phone. “Hello?”
A pause on the other end of the line. Finally, a sharp voice barks, “Who is this?”
It’s my mother. Her voice haunts me even in my sleep and I’d know it anywhere. But it irks me to have someone, especially my own mother, call ME on my phone and ask who I am! So I answer back, “Who’s this?”
After three or four volleys of this she hangs up.
A minute later the phone again rings. It’s her, of course. I pick up the phone and answer, “Hello?”
Silence. Then an angry, “W-h-o i-s t-h-i-s?”
“You called me,” I say. “Who are you?”
As she slams down the phone I can hear her grumble, “Well, the rudeness of some people!”
Realizing that treating an old woman like this, particularly one who gave birth to me, is probably going to land me in hell, I nevertheless pick up the phone when it rings the third time and offer up a cheery, “Hello?”
A lengthy silence. Then, “Stephen, is that you?”
“It might be. Did you dial someone named Stephen?” I ask.
Her mind is extremely agile despite her age, but her hackles are up. I’ve been her son for fifty-eight years but she’s too irritated to recognize my voice.
Slam goes the phone.
I’ve had enough. This time when the phone rings I pick up the phone and say, “Hi Mom.”
“Stephen Franklin, is that you?”
I know I'm on thin ice when my middle name pops out. “Yes, it is.”
She’s unaware of all the devices on the market to identify callers (not that I needed help identifying her). She asks, “How did you know it was me?”
“Society’s going to hell in a hand basket,” she bellows. “You wouldn’t believe the trouble I had getting through to you. And it’s a crime just how rude people are these days. No phone manners at all!”
Twenty minutes later she’s still telling me what’s wrong with the world and I’m thinking about faking a bad connection, hanging up and putting my head in the oven. But I don’t.
I’m afraid of hell. And the oven needs cleaning.
What are your pet peeves?