The phone rings a lot at our house. Thankfully, through the aid of caller ID, I am able to duck and dodge a great many unwanted entrees into our home. Just like I have developed a cruel but keen sense of people on the street who would like to take "just a moment of my time," I make an effort to avoid those plaintive cries for funding, especially in my own home. Especially at dinner time.
There are some holes in my defenses. One of these gaps exists on my wife's desk: and old touch tone phone that she has held onto for sentimental reasons, but has no way to tell us in advance who might be on the other end of the line when we pick up. It could be anyone. It could be my mother, calling from flood-ravaged Colorado moments before the water reaches her. It could be my boss, letting me know that the rest of the school year has been cancelled but due to my good behavior and perfect attendance it won't be necessary for me to do any further work this year and I will be paid for all that good faith. It could be the bank calling to declare a mistake in my favor of some fifty thousand dollars. It could be any of those things from my fevered and periodically overworked imagination, but it's not. It's another plea for money. My money.
I know, intellectually, that it is no crime to hang up on someone, especially a stranger. But since I am also the kind of person who has been known to chat with people who call my number accidentally, even wrong numbers often get my courteous attentions. Thus, whenever I am confronted by those chance meetings with professional and semi-professional beggars, I feel compelled to give them some of my time. Don't I think that kids in our city deserve a chance to see the program presented yearly by the Benevolent Order Of People Who May Or May Not Have Been Police Officers? Shouldn't I give whatever I can spare to keep the doors of the University of Colorado open, at least for those student athletes who continue to choose my alma mater in spite of their recent difficulties winning games? And what about cancer? Don't I want to stop cancer? What is wrong with me? Of course I want to stop cancer and I hope that if I donate to my college that they will produce a cure that will also generate enough interest in the performing arts that retired or aspiring law enforcement officers will no longer be pressed into that particular duty.
I could just walk into the kitchen and take a gander at that little window just above the keypad on that phone that would tell me that merely by waiting out the five or six rings before the dump to voice mail I wouldn't have to hear any of it. I could do that, but then I wouldn't have anything to complain about.