Friday, March 19, 2010

A call from a kid

When I was growing up, back in the 1950s and 60s, a ringing telephone that turned out to be a wrong number was nothing more than a passing irritation. Apologies were made, and click went the phone.

But this evening, I got a wrong number that was kind of cool.

My phone rang at about 6:40 p.m., and I looked at the caller ID. It said something like "ALLTEL," which MIGHT be someone I wanted to talk with. So I clicked it on and said, "Hello?"

Immediately the caller said, "Oh, I must have a wrong number. Sorry." I said, "Hey, thanks for calling anyway."

Kind of a smart-ass response, I suppose, but already I was thinking: She (it was a young her) and I (who never will see 60 again) exchanged information in an interesting way.

First, this young woman, probably in high school, could tell immediately that my voice was that of an old fart. And I, hearing aids and all, could tell she was a kid. But more than that, the stresses on the vowels, the breathiness, the almost ineffable changing way the language was being used to express a sort-of-sorry-but-not-really dismay, all told me I was talking with a youngster a couple of generations behind (or, more accurately, in front) of me.

So it was a cool wrong number. High school teachers must know exactly what I'm talking about. But at any rate, hey, it beat the hell out of a frantic call telling me my car's warranty was expiring.

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