Sunday, August 16, 2015

Answering Machine

I'm a lonely guy. Maybe not in a league with those depicted in the film by the same name, but I do spend a good deal of time wondering where everyone else went. Sometimes I play like I get abandoned, but the truth is more like I choose to stay behind when there are crowds involved. An interesting irony, coming from a guy whose favorite place beyond his couch is wandering around the throngs of humanity in Disneyland. And there's that job where I wade into a sea of kids five days a week. How could I be lonely?
That is a question best left for professionals and those who are paid to discern such things. Instead, I feel the need to dwell on this one aspect of my supposed suffering: the telephone. If you have ever reached the voice mail at our home, you know that we have made a little joke about the fact that most of the phone calls that come to our home are not for me. Maybe that's why I like to answer the phone, just on the off chance that someone might be coerced into chatting with me. Sometimes this comes as more than a little distraction for those who have specific business with my wife or son. For those of you who have encountered this gauntlet, you have my apologies. Then came technology.
First there was the cellular telephone. This meant that people who had the full intent of speaking directly to the person they had in mind when they dialed. No more wading through the absurd pleasantries of the wacky dad or husband. Direct contact with the person to whom you had placed the call? That sounds pretty convenient. Sounds lonely to me. For me.
Then came the real death knell for my fun time on the phone: caller ID. Now you could tell with a glance who was on the other end. Answering the phone became less of an art and more of a chore. Now when I say "Hi, who is this?" I am mostly just playing around, unless the party on the other end has been clever enough to mask their identity. These are the ones I get. Sure, they're mostly telemarketers, calling as they will around dinner time, but the opportunity to chat it up with a sales rep from a carpet cleaning service is one I still leap for. And yes, I know this makes me appear just a little desperate. I'm okay with that. I'm just hoping that Diana from Stanley Steamer calls back.

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