My 80-year-old mother has a very full, active life. She knits. She reads. She waits for the mail.
Oh — and she constantly complains to me about receiving prerecorded scam phone calls.
“He called me again the other day!” she scowls at me over her coffee mug.
“Who? Your boyfriend Tony Bennett?” We both laugh. This joke never gets old for either of us.
“No! The ro-but!” she yells.
“Oh! You mean you got another robocall?”
“Yes! The RO-BUT!”
“So did you tell him off?” I giggle because I already know the answer.
“He says to me ‘Good morning Senior Citizen!’ First off — how in the hell does he know I’m a senior citizen?! UP YOURS BUDDY! That’s what I told him too!”
“I’m sure he learned his lesson then.”
“And then he has the gall to say, ‘Congrats! You’ve won an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas! All you have to do is press number five on your phone!’ And I says to him, ‘Oh yeah? How ’bout you press THIS buddy! Huh? How do you like them apples? Is there a number I can press to tell you to go to hell? Jeezum crow!'”
Phones have always been a source of aggravation for my mom, and not just because Tony Bennett never returns her calls. Yesterday she told us a story about how when she was a child, her family didn’t even have a phone. My stunned kids asked how they communicated without texting and she explained how they had to actually walk to the neighbor’s house to talk. This blew their little minds. People used to talk back then? My little mind was blown as well. People used to walk back then?
“Imagine! When I was a teen, we didn’t even OWN a phone!” my mom said to my kids, a look of sheer terror spreading across their faces. “If I wanted to get together with my friend, I had to walk three blocks to her house and hope to God she was home! And heaven forbid if there was an emergency, we’d have to walk all the way over to my aunt’s house on the other side of town because she had the only phone! She was always so smug about it too. Oh how we hated her and her stupid phone!”
Back in the 1940s, my mom’s father was an accountant for L.L. Bean — the actual man, not just the store itself. My grandparents and my mom lived in a house right next door to the famous hunting store. It was the same old house I grew up in as well. We were so close to the retail floor, I was able to sit at the kitchen table, eat my Cheerios and tell the New York tourist trying on the camouflage flannel long johns she should probably go up another size.
But I’m sure my grandfather didn’t think living so close to his workplace was such a good thing when the poor man didn’t even have a phone to screen calls from his pesky boss.
“And get this!” my mom continued. “Whenever my dad was home on his days off and L.L. needed him to come in to work? He’d just throw open his office window and holler at my dad across the yard, ‘Hey Daniel! Get over here! I need you!'”
“Wow, that’s just insane,” I said. “You had windows back then?”
“Darla! Yes we had windows back then. We weren’t cavemen for god’s sake.”
“So Mom — why do you still phone me all day long when I live right next door to you?” (We currently live in a side by side duplex house and she calls me approximately 15-200 times a day to tell me her remote’s broken.) “Why don’t you just yell at me through the window like L.L. Bean did in the good old days of yore?”
“Good point. Makes sense. Well, I’ll have to start doing that. And maybe that gall-darn ro-BUT man will stop bugging me. Then I’d free up my phone in case Tony calls!”