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.
Caller: How are you?
Caller: That’s good… … … …
Me (smiling) Who’s this?
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: 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.
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.