Monday, January 29, 2007

Remedial Phone Calling Lessons

I got home last night to two messages from my mother on my home answering machine.

"Hi Lisa! It's Mom! I guess you don't have your cell phone on!"

"Hi sweetheart! I just want to know how New York is! Are you having fun?"

I regularly get messages like the following on my cell phone. "Hi sweetie! I thought I might catch you at home!"

Or I'll get to the the office on Monday morning and my message light will be flashing. "Hi honey! I guess you're not home. I'll try your cell."

And then the next message will be, "Hi, it's Mom! I guess you're not answering your cell!"

When she actually catches me on the phone she thinks she's calling, it's always a nice surprise. And the thing is, my numbers are labeled in her phone. It's not like she has to dial them off a scrap of paper. Or dial them at all.

My brother said years ago that our mom needed remedial telephone lessons.

And then, when my mom calls me at the office, she wants to chat.

"Hi sweetie! How ARE you?"

"I'm fine, thanks, mom. How are you?"

She will launch into a story, or she'll ask me questions. And I never sound enthusiastic enough.

"OK, well, you sound very businesslike. I guess you're not in the mood to talk."

Or she'll say, "You sound bored."

Or, "What's wrong, honey? You don't sound up!"

And I will say, as I always do, "Mom, I'm fine. I work in a cubicle."

"Oh! That's right!"

Every time.

And later, when I see her and we are not on the phone, I explain. "When you work in a cube, everyone can hear your conversations. I can't just chat. And I'm never going to sound enthused."

I overheard her talking to a friend of hers once. The friend asked if I liked my job. My mom said I liked it fine.

"The big problem seems to be," she said, "the big problem is. . ."

Dramatic pause. And she got this very sad, talking about terminal disease kind of look on her face, as if she were imparting terrible news.

"That she works..."

Pause. Her voice drops to almost a whisper.

"In a cubicle!"

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