Dial O For Old Lady

Phone rings. I don’t answer because I have one child screaming on my hip and another begging for cupcakes. Phone rings again. I don’t answer because one child is asleep and the other is occupied and I DONT CARE WHO YOU ARE because this happens for less than an hour a day. Phone rings for the third time, which NEVER happens, so I suspiciously ignore it while talking on my iPhone where all my REAL FRIENDS call.

I listen to the messages:
I’m looking for PD to start her physical therapy
I’m looking for PD to start her speech therapy.
I’m looking for PD to change out her fecal bucket to one with a new serial number.

Okay, this PD lady is NOT doing well. And they think she lives here. With me. But she doesn’t. (At least she wasn’t in that pile on the stairs.)

And I’m a good person. I call back each and every number. And I patiently explain to them that PD does not live here. My phone number is not the right number for her. I’m sorry because she sounds like she really needs them. Everyone apologizes.

Until the next day when eight more people call for PD. I’m starting to think this PD belongs in the HOSPITAL. But I go through the explanation to each person. I’m actually feeling pretty darn good about myself and the effort that I’m making. Until I hit TREVOR. (This is not his name. But it should be.)

Trevor is about as southern as you can sound without me seeing your pink popped collar, pants with tiny pink martinis on them, and boat shoes with no socks. I’d bet five bucks a Mint Julip was in his free hand during our entire conversation.

Trevor: Is PD there?
Me: No. I’m sorry.
Trevor: Who is this?
Me: Not PD. Or PD’s home. There was some mix-up. You are like the fifteenth person to call. Don’t worry. I guess the number given out…
Trevor: Is this XXX-XXXX?
Me: Yes?
Trevor: Well. How long have you had this number?
Me: Ever since I killed off PD. Maybe about a week. Why?
What I really said: I’ve had this number for over a year.
Trevor: Well, I just don’t know.
Me: Okay.

We went around this tree at least a dozen times. Now, Southerners really do live up to the phrase ‘southern hospitality.’ They are kind and thoughtful. They carry my bags to the car, hold the door for me, and smile at my children. But there is a line when nice becomes nosy, taking their time becomes taking my time, and it’s not a smile anymore, it’s a sneer. Coming at me over the tops of Gucci reading glasses. And this conversation is taking a lot longer than my Yankee heart can handle.

Me: I have to go. Good luck.

But Trevor does NOT have to go. When we get back to my home, there is a message on the voicemail.

Trevor: Hi. I just want to explain to you what happened. A change of address form for PD went out with the wrong number. That’s why you have been getting all these calls. Here is the correct number. XXX-ZZZZ. I thought you’d want it… to give to others… IF YOU’RE A NICE PERSON. I just wanted y’all to know.

He may have said more but I think that he must’ve formed some OPINIONS of me from my northeastern ACCENT. Because I thought that I was ALREADY nice by calling everyone back so they knew that they needed to keep looking for PD. Before she DIED.

But Trevor is oh, so persuasive with his Southern guilt accent. And when the fecal unit calls (again!), I offer to give them the correct number.

Fecal caller: Oh, no. We are just so sorry that we called again. Don’t bother getting the number. We will fix the matter and you won’t here from us again. I am so sorry. And that is just so nice of you to call us back.

The poop people are grateful. And they pick up POOP all day. So I gave them Trevor’s number.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

36 thoughts to “Dial O For Old Lady”

  1. I'm laughing hysterically right now, not just because of the poop people, but because I SO know what you are talking about when real hard-core Southerners encounter a northeastern accent.

  2. Hilarious!(from a fellow Yankee transplant to the south) Imagine if this whole thing took place up north though – lot more #*(*@? and phone slamming would be involved!

  3. This post is too funny! And I can totally hear Trevor and his lengthy explanations (I'm from the deep south. I know exactly who you're talking about. Not me, of course)

  4. Oh my – this is so funny! The strangest of things do seem to happen to you. We do not have a home phone any more – I got rid of it when my daughter was about six months old as it DROVE ME MAD that as soon as I put her down to sleep some 800 number caller would ring and as usual I would have forgotten to unplug the phone. I do not miss having one at all – I would highly recommend it!

  5. Well told! You were incredibly kind to call back! Our last home phone number once belonged to an auto glass company and we got calls for them for 4 years! And now, for some reason our number is on all the debt collectors lists — the name of the person they look for keeps changing, but they keep calling. No, I'm not Ramon or Mrs Uganili. Really. Then they call again to make sure I'm not lying to them. Nice.

  6. I'm laughing hysterically right now, not just because of the poop people, but because I SO know what you are talking about when real hard-core Southerners encounter a northeastern accent.

  7. Hilarious!(from a fellow Yankee transplant to the south) Imagine if this whole thing took place up north though – lot more #*(*@? and phone slamming would be involved!

  8. This post is too funny! And I can totally hear Trevor and his lengthy explanations (I'm from the deep south. I know exactly who you're talking about. Not me, of course)

  9. Oh my – this is so funny! The strangest of things do seem to happen to you. We do not have a home phone any more – I got rid of it when my daughter was about six months old as it DROVE ME MAD that as soon as I put her down to sleep some 800 number caller would ring and as usual I would have forgotten to unplug the phone. I do not miss having one at all – I would highly recommend it!

  10. Well told! You were incredibly kind to call back! Our last home phone number once belonged to an auto glass company and we got calls for them for 4 years! And now, for some reason our number is on all the debt collectors lists — the name of the person they look for keeps changing, but they keep calling. No, I'm not Ramon or Mrs Uganili. Really. Then they call again to make sure I'm not lying to them. Nice.

  11. For REAL! Who else could this possibly happen to? Though I am a Midwesterner at heart, I was raised by two Southerners and married a Southerner and you are right about how quickly kindness can become a “lesson” or “advice”. Perhaps Trevor knew you WERE nice? And maybe Trevor truly has no one else to talk to? That is all VERY annoying though as it has happened to me with my cell phone. No poop people though, just calls for Sierra from prison.

  12. You're funny! I know what you mean about the phone ringing. I almost never answer it. There's just so little need when there are screaming kids. (And it's usually my husband.)

  13. Wow you are very patient for a northerner. I am a transplanted Westerner who has done time up north and now resides (as you know) in the south… You are waaaaaaaaaaay more patient than I coulda been, I was imagining me beating the receiver against the table…THOMP THOMP NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Pd aint here no more go away! Peace, Mike

  14. OMG, i'm simultaneously grossed out and perplexed by the fecal people (which could be a band name for a group with a very dark personality?) are we talking people poop or doggie scoop?
    Wait, not sure I want to know the answer…

    I'm not a blogger but I hereby award you an Honorary Southerner Award for gracious charm and mercy in the face of phone calls that would have driven me to profanity… or at least, a little shouting…or maybe just answering the phone and pretending i didn't speak english… or pretending i was PD herself, risen from the grave to freak all those callers the hell outta town.

    Now, post that official award (or get it tatoo-ed), slow down your words to get that southern drawl started, buy your dearest a seersucker suit, and you can get ready to hang an “x” out in front of that yankee status. Welcome to Dixie, Yankee-girl : )

  15. Oh, I'm so glad that you can relate… I realized while I was writing the post that my accent may have been the beginning of a long and misunderstood relationship between Trevor and I.

  16. Thanks!! We've toyed with getting rid of the house phone but I like to know when my cell ringing that it's usually someone I LOVE. When the house phone rings, it's 50/50. So I can prepare accordingly 😉 But some days it seems like a waste of money…

  17. I had the debt collectors calling at my old house! Even though it wasn't for me, I would TOTALLY stress out that they thought I was lying!!
    ATTN any debt collectors reading this: Please verify the phone number at the time you are given it. Otherwise you will reach Kate and she does not owe you anything.

  18. Seriously. I'll stop giving your number to prisoners if you promise to stop giving my number to people trying to help the sick old ladies. Deal?

  19. Thanks! Oh, you COULD answer when your husband calls and kids are screaming in the background. It's like the REMINDER call of why he needs to hurry home!

  20. Hilarious. I read this aloud to the hubby. These Southerners must've rubbed off on me. In fact, last time I was in the Northeast I couldn't figure out why everyone hated us. And then I realized: They are just being YANKEES.

  21. That is a FABULOUS award. I will savor it!!
    And I can't imagine you cursing someone out. I may have to prank call you a few times just to find out 😉

    PS. And it's people fecal. Oh yeah.

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