Call of the Bloody Wild

It’s true that I am mostly known as a patient and good-natured person but we all have our triggers, don’t we? Those things that switch us, in a split second, from being in a perfectly fine mood to being Godzilla with hemorrhoids.

I have a few of these. Triggers, that is, not hemorrhoids. Quite a few actually.

I’m happy enough to tell you about one of them - provided you promise that you won’t all start phoning me up and doing this to me.

Seriously, it would end badly for all of us.

Okay, here it is. I hate people who call me up and the phone and… well, let me give you an example phone call.

Me: Hell-oo?
Caller: How are you?
Me: Good.
Caller: That’s good… … … …
Me (smiling) Who’s this?
Caller: What?
Me: Who’s this?
Caller: You mean, you don’t know who I am?
Me: That’s right, sorry about that. Who is it?
Caller: Ah, Jaysus, Ken, you must know who it is.
Me: I know, this happens to me sometimes, it’s a real pain… can you just tell me?
Caller: Well, I’m very surprised about that. Will I give you a clue?

That’s around about where my trigger mechanism kicks in. Around about where I lose my head.

I don’t know if this is an intrinsically Irish thing, where false-familiarity is often the order-of-the-day or whether it’s a ‘me’ thing. In fairness, I am always forgetting people’s names and when I hear someone on the phone, without any context to help me I am occasionally at a loss.

That’s why I do that smiley ‘Who’s this?’ thing. I am old and tired and fed up with pretending that I know who you are. There has been enough misunderstandings that way, enough pain. So I just ask, nicely, and ninety-nine percent of the time that works really well.

It’s the other one percent that can drive me completely insane.

This happened to me most recently last Monday morning. I was on the school run and I was late. It was pissing rain and the windscreen-mist refused to clear on account of all the humid boys inside.

Then the phone rang.

My rule is that I don’t answer it but, honestly, it sort of answered itself due to an involuntary twitch of mine and so I was left, in traffic, with this disembodied voice. A voice who was warm and comfy somewhere and who just wanted to play.

Me: Hello.
Caller: Kenny!
Me: Hiya, who’s this?
Caller: Ah, now Kenny, you know who this is.
Me: Sorry, at the moment, I don’t.
Caller: Well isn’t that just awful, ye little fecker ye.
(tick tock)
Me: Sorry. Look, I’m stuck in a jam and I’m late… could you just tell me who it is?
Caller: You’re what?
Me: I’m in a tight spot, really. I can call you back…
Caller: (He said this, I swear) I don’t want to be knowing about your sex life Kenny…

It is a testament to my ever-increasing maturity that I actually got out of this conversation all right. I breathed hard and the guy eventually revealed himself to me. I’m glad of this because he turned out to be a good friend and I would have hated to do what I used to do. So all was well that ended well… in this case.

But in earlier years, this type of call did not ever go as neatly as this one did. Most memorably, at five-fifteen on a terribly-pressured Friday afternoon, I told the new secretary’s boyfriend - who had only called to flirt with his gal and who had decided to play a little ‘guess-who’ with me along the way – that he could take his 'mystery phone-call' and shove it a country mile up in his fucking arse. Before slamming the phone down. He still looks at me oddly to this day.

Would this annoy you, I wonder, or is it just me?

I also know that the temptation will be now huge but, please, don’t try to call and do this to me.

Every day, I’m getting better and better…

… but I’m still not terribly good.


Elisabeth said...

If the person who calls does not identify themselves, then I assume it is someone 'begging' and I say immediately and without ruth, 'I'm not interested'.

I'm with you on this one. People ought to identify themselves when they ring, and if they don't they deserve the consequences, unless of course they are children under the age of 18.

Susan at Stony River said...

No worries -- I might be worse than you are, in fact, because I'm instantly irritated when the phone *rings*. I've never liked those things and find them rude by their very nature.

Yes, I think it is an Irish thing. During our summer in A merica, if the phone rang, I'd say "hello" and what I got was always something like this, "Hey Susie, it's Mike next door. Could you send Martin over to help me with getting a door up, would he mind? OH and how are you?"

Back home, Jaysis. It's either a long guessing game to find out who they are, or, if you recognise them, then you have to work out what they want after a long series of "So how're ye keeping" and "Sure isn't it raining again" and just silences, until I'm screaming WHAT DO YOU WAAAAAANT???

So of course everyone near here thinks I'm an unstable nutjob. (Good, maybe they'll stop phoning...)

hope said...

Ah, my Irish genes started humming on this one. :)

Like Elisabeth, I'll give them one chance to answer, then they get "Sorry, no thanks!" as I hang up. [See, the southern girl thing makes me offer an apology before handing up on the idiots]. Those who actually call back begin with, "Hi, it's Doug. You okay?" Depending on how many idiots called prior the reply is either a cool, "What did you need?" or the more terse, "What do you want?!"

My problem is complicated by the fact I was once a police dispatcher and tend to recognize a voice 98% of the time...the 2% are the ones who like to torment me.

I feel your pain. And I think replacing the receiver forcefully might solve some of the problem. :)

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

With you 100% on this, Ken, not that it happens to me that much, thankfully. I don't speak to that many people on the phone, and I usually recognise their voices... I'm pretty guilty of not always announcing myself to one particular friend (or to my parents, for that matter, but then I think the 'Hi Mum/Dad' should give me away there), but I always give my name as soon as I ring someone.

If I don't recognise a voice though, I treat it like a wrong number and ask who the person wants to speak to. And 9 times out of 10, it turns out to be an actual wrong number...

I think that with the advent of mobile phones and fancy house phones that display the number, a lot of people assume that you will have their name programmed in somewhere and will automatically know how it is...

Anonymous said...

It is a charateristic common to Irish and Japenese people,this polie bantering about weather and Tommy/Hiro down the road and Oh she had a baby did she? the missus, oh God thats great but really i was just wondering could you move your car away from my driveway? thanks.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Ken,

I hang up when they don't identify themselves first. It's phone courtesy. "Hello this is, so and so may I speak to Ken?" lol.

Perhaps because English is our second language, we are usually "taught" how to conduct a formal phone conversation. In the tagalog dialect however, we also do that at times.

Jim Murdoch said...

I suppose I'm lucky in that this hasn't happened to me more than a couple of times in my life and both times it annoyed the hell out of me. I don't like being embarassed like that. And that's what it it. They're making me squirm because of my inability to recognise who they are. That's not funny. At least I don't find that funny.

My worst experience on the phone was when I called up a girlfriend and I got her brother on the phone and he pretended to be her and I bought it. No experience I've ever had on a phone could ever surpass that one.

Reese said...

What I hate is when a telemarketer calls and 1) pretends they know me...Hi Reese, how ya doin' tonight? or 2) completely butchers my last name (which really isn't a difficult one, but people insist on making it French rather than Irish).
I do feel sorry for people who call our home. My daughters and I sound exactly alike on the phone, so people often start a conversation with the wrong person!

Laura Brown said...

That doesn't annoy me. I don't often know who it is just by the voice either. My sisters and my nephew all sound quite alike when they call. I just take a stab at guessing which one it is. I don't feel bad if I'm wrong.

What really bugs me about the phone are those machines that call and then leave you waiting for someone to say something... anything! once you have picked up the call. Frickers! I hate that, waiting for someone who called ME! Not the other way around. Usually it isn't anyone I want to talk to anyway. So I've gotten into the habit of just hanging up on them. A couple of times it was my sister who has her own business - she had just been asked a question at the time I answered. But she called me back. No problem.

I tell everyone to email me cause I seldom answer the phone and forget to check messages. I'm just a phone freak, I don't like running every time someone rings a bell, as if I'm some lab rat.

Laura Brown said...

Are you going to attempt NaNoWriMo?

Aerté Du Draumr said...

*picks up phone reciever*...

Ken Armstrong said...

Elisabeth: Most of these episodes are with people who I know I know, I just can't place them. Actual cold callers get very short shift. :)

Susan: You are not worse than I am... in anything. :)

Hope: Yup. I do get the gals' genes humming. That I do. :)

Catherine: When I answer the phone, people often mistake me for an answering machine and say nothing, waiting for the beep. I don't know what this says about me.

Anon: Japanese too eh? I've read all your books by the way... very good. :)

Jena: Tagalog is a lovely name for a dialect. Mine is Sligo-Mean. :)

Jim: None of this is funny as it is happening. I need humour-coloured spectacles to see me through.

Reese: Telemarkets (spits). It's an awful way to ski. :)

Laura: Nanowrimo Notformeno. :)

Aerte: Don't You Dare. :)

Unknown said...

Ken, I think it's not you. By the third time someone tried that guessing game on me, I would be ready to explode and then hang up.

I can't say I've had someone do that to me. But I have had my former roommate's brother do voices and pretend to be other people than himself on the phone with me.

As a result, I told a policeman collecting for the Policeman's Ball, "Ah, sure you're the police, Bryan! Right! Tell me another one."

"I am not this Bryan ma'am."

It took several rounds of that before he convinced me it wasn't a fake voice. :)

McGuire said...

Strange, do you really get a lot of phone calls with callers not identifying themselves? We usually get a ring and at the other end is a beep, beep, beep, beep...some internet thing I think. It's so annoying. Or am I in a coma and it's the sound of my life support machine?

At least you're no being pranked by immaturities, just playful associates having a laugh or a game; be thankful the phone is not at war, and only at your neck, annoying.

Btw, you once commented on one of my poems, something like: 'thanks for this, i'm learning the difference between the artistic and the tehcnical, day by day.' I just discovered it again and it left me wondering, was I merely artistic and not technically minded? *interested to know*

as ever, reading you.

fragileheart said...

I don't think I can relate as much since I've never had a phone without caller id so I tend to always know how's calling me. Though I imagine it would be pretty annoying for someone to play these sort of games with you.