Fun (or not) with the phone

When I was a teenager, I LIVED on the phone. My father used to joke about how it was permanently attached to my head. I can remember calling friends so that we could watch television together (over the phone). I was All Phone, All The Time.

And then the internet happened. The lovely, lovely internet.

I’m still a big fan of constant connection, but the advent of the internet changed things for me. Oh, sure—when I haven’t talked with a friend in a long time, nothing but an actual conversation will do, but in general? I much prefer email. Or chatting online.

I was trying to figure out why this is, and I realized it’s because I’m actually incredibly rude: While emailing or instant messaging I can ALSO be talking to the kids, emailing/instant messaging someone ELSE, and/or eating lunch. The multitasker in me is not interested in a singular phone conversation when I could be doing five things at once.

[Aside: Just so we’re clear—and so no one feels the need to point this out—I never claimed to do five things at once particularly WELL. I know there’s value in focusing on one thing at a time and giving it singular attention. I do. That’s why I hardly ever do anything else while I’m eating bacon.]

Anyway. I do loves me some iPhone, but mostly because I can check my email on it.

This is all preamble to explain where I stand on the usefulness of phones.

phone usefulness < online usefulness

Phones are a necessary tool, though. I’d never say otherwise. Why, when the summer schedule for the kids came down, one of the first things Otto and I did was go ahead and get a cell phone for the kids to take with them when they go with their dad.

Understand: I am NOT the kind of person who thinks kids “need” cell phones. But this was a special circumstance. We give the phone to Chickadee when the kids leave and take it back from her when they get back. All texting and downloading and such is disabled on the phone, and we programmed all of the relevant numbers she might need into the speed-dial and then told her that monsters will drop out of the ceiling and gnaw her face off if she dials any other numbers.


Because the phone is on our family plan, the caller ID defaults to the name of the plan-holder. Which is Otto.

So when the kids call us? “OTTO LASTNAME” comes up on the caller ID.

It never fails to entertain both the kids and Otto when they call and he answers the phone.

“Hello, ME!” he greets them. “I am calling myself! That’s a little odd!”

Or I’ll pick it up and say, “Otto? You’re sitting right next to me, Otto, how are you calling me on the phone??”

(What can I say? We’re easily entertained.)

So phone are good. Phones are fun! Fun with phones! Etc. I’m silly for preferring electronic communication after all!


The other night, Otto’s mom had just gotten out of surgery (she’s fine) and Otto decided to forward his cell phone calls to the home line in case anyone needed to reach us overnight. Fair enough. We got the last status report around 10:30 and went to bed.

At around 6:00 in the morning the phone rang, and I woke up enough to answer, but was very confused. Despite the fact that early morning phone calls when you have a loved one in the hospital are NEVER GOOD, I was still mostly asleep.

“Hello?” I muttered.

“Hi, I have a delivery of sdkgjh aslkth asjfhnv and I need to confirm the address as being 123 Main Street, is that correct?”

Whoever it was—a young man, sounded like—did not actually say “sdkgjh aslkth asjfhnv,” but I hadn’t caught it all, possibly because my brain was trying VERY VERY HARD to go to back to sleep.

“What?” I said, ever the picture of grace and decorum. “You have what, now?” In the back of my brain, I was thinking about how we’re having a rug shipped here by some weird third-party trucking company I’ve never heard of, and thinking maybe this was the truck driver, calling to confirm a delivery for later that morning.

“Yes, I have a pizza delivery for Otto Lastname I need to confirm. Four large pizzas. I just wanted to make sure I had the right address, let’s see, is that 123 Main Street?” The voice was friendly and conversational, and it would’ve been a perfectly normal interaction if not for the fact that a stranger was calling first thing in the morning, insisting my husband had ordered four large pizzas, and was now trying to get me to confirm our home address for him.

I woke up.

“You have… PIZZA??”

“Yes, ordered by Otto Lastname, four large pizzas. 123 Main Street for delivery, right?”

Otto was peering at me from under his pillow.

“You are calling me at SIX IN THE MORNING about PIZZA? SERIOUSLY?”

Still chipper and utterly unaffected by my rising ire, the voice responded, “Yes, I just need to confirm the address. Is 123 Main Street correct?”

“Where are you calling from?” I demanded, because I was still just sleepy enough that that seemed like a logical thing to say, as if perhaps Papa Johns was having a computer problem and we were not being crank-called by (most likely) one of Otto’s students.


The kicker here is that because Otto was forwarding his cell phone to our home phone, we have no idea which number was dialed. It came up on caller ID as “unavailable,” of course, so no help there.

But I have to tell you that the only more disturbing than being woken out of a sound sleep to be informed that my husband ordered a bunch of pizza is having that same cheerful person try to get me to tell him our address. CREEPY.

This may be why I prefer email. There’s just no spam filter on my PHONE.


  1. Megan

    A) He was CHIPPER at 6 am? CHIPPER??

    B) He was doing his scam at 6 in the fricken morning?

    C) And having found the number, woken early, composed himself for chipperness – the best sinister plot he came up with was a pizza delivery?

    Yup. Modern criminals these days…

  2. David "CrazyKinux" Perry

    Spam filters for the phone would be a great idea.

    I don’t really mind the UNKNOWN NUMBER showing up on my display once in a while, I just wish I could hunt the little pricks that pull these stunts. Kinda like an automatic CALLBACK feature despite the fact that the system won’t let you see who calling. The phone system has got to know who’s calling.

  3. Leandra

    I probably would have been like “yay, pizza!” How weird.

    I hated talking on the phone as a teenager. My mom couldn’t believe it but counted her lucky stars. Of course there was no such thing as cell phones way back in the olden days (as Bubba so lovingly refers to my childhood) so she didn’t have to worry about texting and going over minutes and such either.

  4. Jenny

    That is… odd.

    We do the same thing, though — fun with caller ID! My sister is still on my Dad’s family plan and her calls and my mothers both come up with his name.

  5. Holly

    I always get mad when they call past seven, I think I would blow a fuse if they called at six!

  6. Aimee

    What a strange prank.

    I agree, spam filters for the phone would be AWESOME.

  7. Jenni

    All of our phones (home and 2 cells) are listed as my maiden name. It is a great spam filter because if someone calls asking for Mr. or Mrs. MaidenName, we can say no such person lives there. However, it is quite fun at work because all of the phones pop up on my caller ID as Jenni MaidenName. However, it does cause my boss to occasionally call me Miss. MaidenName and then stammer trying to correct himself to the Mrs. HusbandsLastName. And it does amuse me to have my phone tell me that I’m calling myself. Although the phone system at work just pops up the name so I have no way of knowing WHICH number is calling me…just that it is me.

  8. Astrogirl426

    Now, if he had said, “I have an order of bacon, with a side of chocolate,” you would have been ALL OVER THAT.

    Because you have your priorities straight.


  9. All Adither

    My first thought was that it was a prank. But I guess that is naive of me. Yes, I am sheltered.

  10. Sophia (Adventures of Brown)

    Heh. I would have asked if I could pick up a pizz and make it extra cold, please.

  11. Sophia (Adventures of Brown)

    Wow, my brain must still be asleep because what I typed was NOT what I thought. Hmph.

  12. annette


    What a great trick to know in case the microwave goes on the fritz:) Because ya know, we may not immediately replace the microwave, but God forbid we are without our cellphones. Lord help us…and we wonder about the cell phone cancer link??? Still not willing to give mine up. Sigh.

  13. Randi

    I can’t get cell phone at my house, and I didn’t realize you could forward the calls to your regular phone – how cool?

    If I were Otto, I’d find out which student pranked him and get even…by sending six pizzas to him!

  14. Otto

    You know I love pizza for breakfast … but cold pizza, never fresh … so, honest, I DID NOT ORDER A PIZZA IN MY SLEEP.


  15. Karen

    Too bad you didn’t know the local law enforcement address in your sleep. That could have worked out quite humorously. (is that a word?)

  16. Tj

    This is why we don’t have a home phone. I wish I had something like this on my cell phone though – where any calls on weekdays go straight to voicemail if before 6am or after 10pm, and if you get put to voicemail and it’s an emergency then you can do a dial code and it would do an alarm feature on the phone.

  17. mamalang

    TJ, that’s brilliant. Quick, soomeone create that feature and make tons of money.

    And I, too, don’t believe that kids need a cell phone, but life sure is easier when your middle schoolers/high schoolers have one. Because apparently, while it’s still expected that they will arrive on time, teachers don’t believe in ensuring that they finish those activities on time…and sometimes, they don’t give an end time at all. It’s all, when we’re done they’ll call you. Very frustrating.

  18. Jen

    I hope it was at least breakfast pizza! MMMMMM

  19. Susan

    Wow. That is creepy. Hopefully it was just a prank, but still. So the call came in as unavailable on the cell phone, too? I think even though it’s forwarding, the cell should still have the call recorded if it was the number that was dialed.

  20. Kathi

    We just had someone call us and yell at us because we were making “sales” calls to them. It seems – and I completely confirmed this with AT&T that anyone can use ANYONE’S phone number to make calls and there is nothing they can do about it. How crazy is that?!?!

    I am completely with you on internet > phone!

  21. ikate

    “That’s why I hardly ever do anything else while I’m eating bacon.”
    That’s the best line ever!

    Did you see the new Dinner Impossible on Food Network where chef Michael Symon made CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON? I think I love him.

  22. Mother of Two

    Question… Can you not *69 on a forwarded call?????

  23. Mother of Two

    Question… Can you not *69 on a forwarded call????
    I’d hunt them down!!

  24. Mother of Two

    Question… Can you not *69 on a forwarded call????
    I’d hunt them down!!

    **(This is so weird… I am trying to submit this comment, which I am certain I have NEVER said to Mir before and I get this message saying it is a duplicate comment that I have said before…)


  25. Kimmers

    Wow – I think that would leave me feeling a little unsettled. What a strange and random scheme – not to mention not very well thought out, as they called at 6 a.m.

    Interrupted sleep makes me VERY VERY cranky. I used to keep a spray bottle by my bed when my cats were kittens, because sometimes the playing and tussling and knocking things over pushed me past a Sanity Ledge, and I’d just (eyes still closed) pick up the bottle and spray around the room erratically for a while.

    Maybe this sort of upbringing is why I have such a wonderful, roll with the punches kind of pet lol. He learned young!

  26. AKD

    When my boyfriend got a new cell phone I programmed numbers into it (because he never does this therefore never has anyone’s number when he needs it). For our home phone number I put it under the cat’s name so when I call his cell from home, the phone reports that the cat is calling.
    This is endlessly amusing.

  27. Tricia

    Hey, thanks for helping put into words my recently-developed phone aversion. Most days, I’d much rather e-mail, SMS or blog hop than get stuck on the phone, which is starting to annoy friends and family. Geez. I’m sorry already.

  28. Daisy

    Our current challenge is finding a cell phone that will work for Amigo, who can’t see it. Sigh.

  29. Claudious

    Someone trying to steal information really should be more clever… six in the morning for pizza… That’s kind of frightening. I got a terrible call like that this morning from my “mother-in-law” only it really was my Mother in law.

  30. Lindy

    I’m not much of a phone talker, but I’m a big fan of the convenience of cell phones. And Instant Messaging, where I can message my friends and ask them to call my phone because I lost it in my house (or in my mailbox or my refrigerator…).

    Not a big fan of AT&T though. This past spring I didn’t have any service for four days because they thought I was dead and suspended my account (and I don’t have a landline). You know difficult it is to convince those people that I wasn’t dead?!

  31. Looking Glass Jewels

    Too freakin’ creepy. Like, check the perimeter creepy.

  32. stephanie

    omg. i could have written this post. i too watched tv on the phone. ok & played go fish on the phone. ok & maybe took the phone to the bathroom too. ok ok TMI.

    thanks for the high school flashback!

  33. Rick Bucich

    Very funny observation regarding the caller ID on the incoming call. On my phone I can customize the message; when my son is old enough perhaps we’ll have Santa Claus or Superman call in looking for him.

  34. Flea

    Calling at 6 am to get your address with a pizza scam is downright stupid. Did you wind up having to pay for them? Were any of them pepperoni and pineapple? I’ll be there shortly if they were.

  35. Little Bird

    I am currently having problems with people who tell me I owe them money for my student loans. Which were paid off about ten years ago. And get this, my FATHER gave them my cell phone number!!!!!!!! If they told me they had pizzas for me I’d ask if how they were paid for. If credit, I’d sign and take the food! Somehow I don’t think that would actually work.

  36. Cele

    I have never liked talking on the phone, my husband can’t be alone for more than five minutes without calling someone. I guess that’s a match made in heaven.

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