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.”