Monday, April 29, 2013

Sleep Deprived Phone Tag

The question I always get when I mention I often have to answer the phone during the day while I am recovering from working night shift is why don’t you just turn the ringer off so you can sleep? It is a valid question and despite having the furthest thing from a logical brain I have an answer that would make Commander Spock proud. I live barely five minutes away from my daughter’s school and about fifteen from my son’s, if they get sick or hurt it is far easier for me to go pick them up than my daytime working wife who is clear on the other side of town. To me it is just one of the normal duties when it comes to being a dad.

However, I am not saying in the least that my diligence is always up to the task. Quite frankly there have been occasions when one of the schools has called two or three times because I simply did not wake up. Then there was the time I answered the phone, clearly understood the message that my son was sick and that I had to come get him, but literally fell asleep after putting on my shoes. In that instance the bed felt so comfortable and my back was hurting, so I decided to stretch out a few minutes in an attempt to relieve the pain. Of course, the irate school nurse called again about an hour later and I broke about a dozen traffic laws after that getting to the school while feeling like a sorry ass heel of a father.

Thankfully, caller ID usually does allow me to weed through most daytime calls without having to go through the motions of me being barely awake and talking with someone trying to sell me a lawn service or rug cleaning. That is when I can find the remote phone receiver we have in my bedroom. There are occasions it somehow grows legs and decides to run off to the Florida Keys or some other nice place because there are times I cannot find it, which forces me to run and answer the phone in the kitchen. Because I could not find the remote receiver early last week, it resulted in one of the strangest wrong number incidents I ever encountered.

While the phone call I received last Tuesday is vague in my memory, I do remember the exact time it occurred because when the ringing started I looked at my watch and saw that it was a little after eleven o’clock. I also remember looking for the remote receiver but not seeing it on the recharger. After saying a few cuss words, I then stumbled through the house to the kitchen and grabbed the phone before whoever called hung up. One piece of vital information I need to write is that before I laid down I had taken one of those tablets for headaches that also has a mild ingredient for sleep so I was not as coherent as I would have liked.

After saying hello, I could tell the person on the other end was friendly in a business sort of way but what he was saying made no real sense. That was nothing out the ordinary for me and like similar calls, once I realize they are either wrong numbers or business propositions I inform them they are mistaken or say no thank you, and hang up. This guy would have nothing of it and while still friendly became rather insistent that we make an appointment to meet.

Whereas I would usually say screw it and just hang up because I was groggy I sort of recollect saying, “Yeah whatever, that will be fine,” figuring this was a doctor’s office calling to confirm an appointment for one of the kids or my wife. What followed was a rapid-fire set of instructions with the words “appointment” and “minimum hours” and “cancelation” used. The guy then hung up and I went back to bed and to be honest the whole thing seemed more like a dream when my wife came home later and asked if there any important phone calls today.

Fast forward to last Friday, it was a little after twelve noon and since I am off those nights, I was taking care of some minor chores around the house. The phone rings and when I answer there is a rather irritated lady on the other end.

“This is Russell Consulting,” she said, “just wanted to inform you that you missed your scheduled appointment and that you will be charged for the three hours we had you down for today.” She went on to say an amount that would have probably given me a heart attack if I had to pay such a price. In fact, the heart attack would have been a mercy because I know my wife would have skinned me alive for such a mistake.

“I’m sorry ma’am,” I said not knowing what the hell was going on at that moment, “you have the wrong number. No one here at my house would have called you.” I went on to give her my phone number figuring she would check it against her list and realize the mistake.

Much to my surprise,” Oh no,” she said. “That’s the number Mr. Russell called late Tuesday morning.”

At that moment, all those vague, dream-like memories fell into place with me recalling far more than I felt comfortable with since I now had the very crazy idea that either Russell Consulting or the person he was trying to reach might try to charge me for this missed appointment. A braver man might have told the lady that yes, I did talk with Mr. Russell but I was half asleep and forgot about the whole thing till now but the fault is with your dumbass boss who called the wrong number. But being married to an attorney over the years has aquatinted me to a number of her professional compatriots who would sue their own grandmothers for a buck. This has promoted the idea in me that discretion is the far better part of valor in cases involving annoyed business types who more than likely have several lawyers on retainer.

“Well ma’am,” I replied, “I’m sorry but if that’s the case the person he probably talked with was my brother who was visiting at the time. He’s not here anymore.”

While my suspicion that they might try to make me pay for that missed appointment was rather silly, the next remark from the lady on the phone was unsettling. “Oh damn,” she said slightly worried as if she herself was looking for a way to cover her ass. “Well thank you,” she said still sounding dejected. The line abruptly went dead after that with me making a mental note to screen all my phone calls far better from now on.


lime said...

well, i can understand not being at the top of your game when you are awakened by a phone but the CYA maneuver when you were fully awake was very nicely done. i bow to you.

Red Nomad OZ said...

That's insane - what kind of 'consulting' does RC do, anyway?? How to make a few bucks with just a phone and a bad bedside manner???

Nicely deflected though - I'll be sure and stow that one away in the memory banks (while hoping like hell it resurrects itself at the right moment ...)

jadedj said...

Not knowing if you are referring to a land line or cell phone, I offer this. On my cell phone I have an app that allows me to mute the phone (including vibration), but allows whatever phone number(s) I designate, to ring. I have this program so that I can receive emergency calls from my two daughter's schools, which is exactly what you need to happen. Of course if you are dealing with a land line, this is useless information.

BTW, quick thinking with the consulting dudes.

Beach Bum said...

Lime: And that's pretty close to the way it actually happened. After rereading this post I'm not completely happy with the results. Case in point I did not make it clear the call was on a land line.

Red Nomad: Truth be told I never asked. Also, I have to add that I always change the names of all entities I mention in my posts. I did search out the actual firm with a Google search after the fact and they are a financial consulting firm. That made the decision cover my ass the right move.

Jadedj: Good point, it was a land line. I do not own a personal cell phone, and will endeavor to avoid it as long as possible. Now I do carry an on-call cell phone for my work for one week out of the month but quickly give it up when I am done with that duty.

Akelamalu said...

Hey that was quick thinking on your part, well done! ;)

Pixel Peeper said...

On the phone, it's very easy to go into auto pilot and say stuff without thinking. I used to work for an HVAC company and overheard the team leader speak to one of his technicians (all of them rough and tough redneck guys with big trucks). After the talk about that day's job was done, I heard my cubicle neighbor say, "OK, drive carefully, I love you, bye." Nobody was there to witness the face or reaction of the technician.

So yes, I understand your reaction - and quick thinking on your feet on the follow-up call!

Randal Graves said...

Oh you blew it, pal. That consulting could have put you on the path to gold-plated wisdom and financial independence, but no, you had to be all lawyerly.

Mr. Charleston said...

None of these assholes have attorneys on call. It was just a trick to try to get you into the office and buy insurance. Next time tell them to go fuck themselves and be done with it.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Congrats on still not having a cell phone. I got one about two years back and now I am expected to always be available no matter what. I do not answer the phone at work (usually) nor while I am driving but the assumption that I should always be available is very irritating to me. When I go out on nature walks my phone does not go with me as well.

Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu and Pixel: Yeah, much to my wife's surprise my brain can work out a few issues every now and then.

Randal: Now I wouldn't want my life to get all easy allowing me to leave this wonderful country for some refuge where I can watch the coming nervous breakdown in safety and comfort.

Mr. C: I might do that.

Life As I Know It: I figure I have a few more years before I have to buy one to function in society. Sort of like the times when cash was all you needed.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Are you on the "do not call" list? Granted, it doesn't eliminate ALL of those unwanted annoyance calls, but it does help. We still get an inordinate amount of robo-calls starting, "Don't hang up! This is not a sales call!" or "The FBI has noticed an increase in criminal activity in your area..." or "This urgent call is about your credit card account. No, there are no problems, but..." ARRRRGH!

But you handled that "missed appointment" call very well. Kudos!