Sunday, 4 February 2007

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours And…

Answering the phone can be a regrettable action in our house. Telemarketers aren’t the problem, although their persistence in the intelligence-insulting pretence that “My name is Elizabeth/Darren [and no, really, I’m definitely not ringing from an outsourced call centre in India!]…” is extremely irritating. I haven’t yet, thankfully, been stricken every time the phone rings, reluctant to answer because of the possibility the caller may be a telemarketer, like my increasingly batty mum. I’m a big polony now and can tell them politely but firmly that I’m very happy with my inferior and more expensive telco/credit card/isp thank you very much.

I’m talking about family. Specifically, Mr. Lonie’s family. The Hobson’s choice of extended family whom those of you with reasonable in-laws must think terribly slandered by such an unfilial daughter-in-law as I. Don’t condemn me until you’ve walked a mile in my wedding ring.

How many times have I raced in from the clothesline, or run with my bare-bottomed baby halfway through a nappy change, or interrupted a feed to the indignation of Master Lonie, to answer the insistently ringing phone only to discover it was my dreaded in-laws on the line? Too many times!

“Hello?” I will answer with an optimistic expectation of an enjoyable or profitable exchange which is soon to be proven baseless.

“Oh, hello Lonie…”
“Oh hi!” I say as I recognise my father-/mother-in-law, feigning a warmth and enthusiasm contrary to my inward groan. I immediately know the conversation will cast me in one of three ways:

The Personal Secretary
“…It’s [name] here…”
Yes, I gathered that I fume silently for the umpteenth time as my eyes roll.
“…Is Mr. Lonie there?”
I feel a flicker of annoyance at the abrupt disregard for social niceties, tempered with relief at my easy escape. “Yes, I’ll just get him.”

The Object of Small-minded Gossip Disguised as Feigned Concern
Them: “How’s [painful family matter] going?”
Me (voice tight and clearly reluctant to discuss the matter): “[Something non-committal]”
Them (oblivious to my reticence): “Why don’t you tell me all about it, even though it’s nothing to do with me and may make you uncomfortable or upset to talk about it?”
Me (verging on brusqueness): “[Some sort of platitude, heavy with desire to cease this line of conversation.] Did you want to talk to Mr. Lonie? I’ll just get him.”

The Woolly-Headed Little Woman
Them: “What are you doing on [any given day]?”
Me: “We’re going to [go anywhere or do anything to avoid you]”
Them: “Ah. Is Mr. Lonie there?”
Mr. Lonie: “Hello?”
Them: “What are you doing on [any given day]? [We’re asking you because the wifey can’t be relied upon to give a proper answer, possessed of ovaries as she is]”

And so the woman whose mobile phone has the most boring ring available on its preset list, has instead customised the home phone with her own ‘answer or ignore’ not-so-subtle code. When my parents ring, it plays ‘Home Sweet Home’. When my sisters ring, it plays a pleasant beeping, booping tone reminiscent of a cheery animated bug. And when any of Mr. Lonie’s family ring? Like the instinctive warning tone of any dangerous beast, the phone jangles out the most jarring klaxon available.

“It’s for you!” I’ll call out to Mr. Lonie, pleased with myself for avoiding his parents or his stupid sisters. We get on so much better with as little interaction as possible.

Good ringtones make good in-laws.


Miao said...

I am sorry but this is genuinely amusing >.<

Pete Aldin said...

So these are the people that cuaght you in your undies recetly?? How many phone calls did you get about that?

I honestly don't know why we Westerners think that just because a phone rings, we have to answer it. I hate the phone. I feel your pain. If I wasn't in business, working from home, I'd never answer the phone. Sounds like you've come up with a great solution; I must try that.

Lonie Polony said...

Miao: glad you enjoyed it. I feel slightly guilty for making sport of my in-laws...and then I talk to them again and remember just why I do it.

Pete: Thankfully I have seem to have managed to avoid all contact with them for over a week. Woohoo! Like Polonium 210, they are best in small doses or not at all.

foodkitty said...

So, has Larry David given you that script writing job yet?

hazelblackberry said...

By gum, you've struck gold.

Lonie Polony said...

Foodkitty: I was thinking my life had more of an Everybody Loves Raymond thing going on.

Hazel: Yes indeedy.