Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CallerID and Priorities

Some guy I don't know just called. Normally I wouldn’t have picked up the phone, but the number looked familiar. We went round and round. “Who is this,” he asked.

“Who are you?” I replied. “You’re the one who called me.”

“I saw your number on my caller ID,” he said.

And this is where I have a problem. Who are these people with nothing better to do in their lives than to call back all the people who called them and didn’t leave a message? And why, especially, are they bothering to call back people they don’t know?

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve received many such calls over the years. I don’t get it. I don’t even call back my friends when they don’t leave a message. I just figure it must not have been that important. Or maybe they’d called with an urgent issue: Can you come over and extricate me out from under this bookcase that fell over? As soon as they realized there would be no human answer to the phone, they were on to the next person on their list.

The guy on the phone got irritated with me. “Your number’s on my caller ID,” he said indignantly. “Someone there called me!”

“Why would anyone here want to talk to a butthead like you?” is what I wanted to reply, but my kids were in the room. Maybe this guy needs some kids, I thought. Then he’d have to prioritize. Then he would know that keeping tabs on every wrong number is a big stupid waste of time.

I remember how, before I had kids, I used to think lots of stupid things were important. Like filing. I would get agitated if a few weeks had gone by and I hadn’t put all the paid bills into their appropriate files. Now that my boys are nine, I know that pretty much you can go for six months without filing before there’s any adverse reaction. As you approach a year, well, then there are hazards. The stack might fall over and hurt someone.

Now I have a laundry list of things (laundry included) that I thought were important and of the highest priority, before my kids were born, which I now have come to realize can go for a surprisingly long time without getting done. Were you aware of how many warnings the phone company gives before they actually shut off your phone?

Making beds, dusting, watching TV shows, actually hearing the radio, getting film developed, making sure the calendar is on the right month. All these things have dropped down, if not right off, the list. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, changing the oil in the car, heck, sometimes even putting gas in the car (It’ll drive amazingly far while on “E”. Although, conversely, it won’t drive far at all once the “Fuel” light comes on.)

I later discovered my babysitter had misdialed my cell phone number when trying to call me earlier this morning, which is why Mr. It’sOnMyCallerID’s phone number had looked so familiar when I saw it on my callerID. The number was pretty darned close to mine.

“But someone there called me!” He’d been so upset. Apparently he really needed to know what we wanted from him.

“Maybe it was just a wrong number,” he finally conceded. “Yeah,” I mumbled. I held on the line for a moment, and then just hung up without saying anything more.

I don’t have the time to spend my life on the phone with strangers. I need extricate my children out from under the files.

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