posted Sat, 16 Jul 2005
If my phone rings at 3:00 in the morning, it better be because someone is dead.
No, it better be because someone is dying. If he is dead at 3:00 a.m., he will still be dead at 8:00 a.m., which is when decent people wait to call.
The only acceptable reason to call at that hour is because you need to be taken to the hospital, you have just arrived at the emergency room, you need to be bailed out of jail or you are stuck on the highway without gas. You know – emergencies.
And the only people in town who would need to call me would be unmarried folk – a married person would call the spouse, right?
The only unmarried people I know with whom I have close enough relationships to warrant that sort of phone call are – is – Harpo. (Yes, Harpo, if you called me at 3:00 a.m. to take you to the hospital, of course I would.) Only it wasn’t Harpo who called because he always leaves a message.
The jerk who called me at 3:00 this morning and woke me up did not leave a message. He just ticked me off mightily. Stupid jerk.
Some people don’t have good phone manners. Or maybe they are naïve and excited. When I lived in Chile, phones were a novelty for some. My counterpart, Monica, had just gotten a phone in her house. This was a big deal. She and her husband had to pay for the wiring for the connection from the main line to their house – about $400, which was the average monthly salary in Chile. It was Monica’s salary.
Problem was, Monica didn’t know anyone else with a phone – besides me. (My roommate and I rented a house that already had a phone. If it hadn’t had one, I wouldn’t have paid to install one. My first year in Chile, I was in a phone-less house and loved it.) So she would call me at all hours – like 1:00 a.m. – just to chat.
The first time it happened, I was really worried. Had something awful happened? Nope. She just wanted some girl talk!
Yes, but Monica, it’s one o’clock in the morning! I was in bed asleep! Couldn’t this wait until later?
OK. I wasn’t that nice about it.
“Well, that’s a surprise,” you’re saying to yourself.
How nice would you be if someone woke you up at 1:00 a.m. just to talk?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I set some ground rules for Monica, explaining that it was not considered polite to call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. in non-emergency situations.
“Well, maybe in the U.S.,” she sniffed.
“Well, maybe in my house,” I warned. “Don’t do it any more or I am going to get really ticked off.”
The end of the line
11 months ago