Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Phlippant Phone Phrases

King of creative calling

Answering the phone is an art form.
Ranging from cheerful.
My personal favourite.
To surly.
Not so popular.
Then there’s: Clever.
Quirky.
Crass.
Even disgusting.
How you answer the phone says a lot about you.
Maybe not in actual words, but the meaning’s pretty clear . . .
Hello!! L (What d’ya want!? I’m having the worst, terrible, awful, no-good day. And you just made it worse!)
Or: Hello!! JJ (I’ve been running through soft fields of primroses and I’m so happy, I just want to share, share, share!)
See what I mean?
In the Stringam household, telephone answering was very often . . . creative.
My brother, George, being the king.
Case in point:
The phone rang.
I should probably explain, here, that these were the days of the rotary phone (google it). There were no such things as call display, call waiting, or even answering machines (Except, maybe in the CIA or FBI or CSIS).
So there was absolutely no way to know who was calling.
Also, an actual electrical cord attached the single home phone to the wall and yet another cord attached the receiver to the phone.
It was entirely possible to get completely wrapped up in you call.
So to speak.
Just FYI.
Moving on . . .
My brother, George, he of the creative phone answering technique, was closest.
He picked it up.
“This is the devil! Who in hell do you want?”
Whereupon (good word) my mother smacked George.
Figuratively speaking.
Now, normally, when my brother answered the phone, the person on the other end of the line would laugh and say something equally inappropriate and the conversation would continue.
On this particular occasion, all George heard was a mighty ‘click’ as the phone at the other end of the line was forcibly returned to its cradle.
He shrugged and hung up.
The phone rang again.
Again, George picked it up.
“This is the devil! Who in . . .” you get the rest.
There was a short, breathless pause, then, “It that you, George?!!! LLL
I put in the little frowny faces to convey . . . displeasure.
Because the caller was my paternal Grandmother.
And she didn’t think my brother was funny.
At all.
Oops.
Sheepishly, George admitted it. “Yes,” he said.
“Let me talk to your father! LLL
Notice the continuing frowny faces.
Ahem . . .
George handed the phone to Dad and headed for the nearest far-away place.
Dad received a lecture from his eighty-five-year-old mother, which he dutifully passed on to the culprit.
I’d like to tell you that the creative answering ended there.
That from then on, all calls were answered with respect and decorum.
I’d be lying.

6 comments:

  1. Yes, I remember that stony reception from Grandma. And the reprimand but it only served to slow me down. In later years with the advent of caller ID I got a little more creative. My favorite is actually one I picked up from RED GREEN. Get yourself a handheld recorder and record the sound of a fax machine. If a telemarketer calls, don't say a word; just replay the beeping sound. It works every time.
    Thanks to Red Green for that highly effective tip!
    GMS

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dad would answer with whatever crossed his mind at the time....City Morgue...You Stab Em We Slab Em, or, Ed's fish and Chips, or, your dime, what's on your mind?...just whatever came to mind. Rarely did he say hello.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Red Green's my hero! Something else that works is to hand the phone to your 4-year-old and get her to tell the nice man about her new puppy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hahahaha I think George and I would get along famously!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was really cute, in my late 20's I took it into my head to answer the phone with a really sexy voice... people didn't know what to make of it, lol. I grew out of that phase:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. This made me giggle- first because of the rotary phone comment- we had a wall phone for a long time after push-button phones were available, and a friend had come to play one day and didn't know how to use it! Then there were the phone etiquette lessons that my husband gave to all r kids' friends! Good memories!

    ReplyDelete

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