We never answer our telephone.
If you call us, expect to suffer through directions given by our answering machine about how to leave your message. We have been screening our calls this way since Big Bubba was a pup, and he's now 26. We tired long ago of saying NO! to telemarketers, and the proof is in the pudding...
Now most of the time the phone rings the caller hangs up as soon as the message starts playing.
When the phone rings at 3 A.M., there is little chance it will bring good news. Seems to me most calls at that hour fall into three categories-
It's a wrong number.
It's a drunk friend wanting to irritate you... (successfully)!
Someone in your life is hurting, or worse.
The phone rang in the wee hours and I was glad the machine was there to give us time to clear our heads...
"Leave us a message at the tone and we'll return your call as soon as possible. Beeeeep."
And I nearly sat bolt upright in bed when the first thing I heard was the sound of another beep...
The beep you hear on the phone when the call is being recorded.
"This is Trooper ******* with the State Police. Your mail carrier suggested I call you. "
I picked up the phone and sleepily said "This is Greybeard."
"Your neighbor, Doug ********* was killed on his way to work this morning and we have been trying to contact his wife, unsuccessfully. Do you have any idea how we can contact her?"
It's the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Doug and Cheryl have just had a baby and she had to take a part-time job at Wal-Mart.
"I think Cheryl may be working at Wal-Mart, putting out merchandise for Christmas sales."
"Can you accompany the Trooper to give her this news?"
My head says "NO, NO, NO... I don't want to do this."
But I know I must.
"Send the Trooper to pick me up. Call the manager at the Wal-Mart to let them know what is going on and to watch for us at the front door. I'll accompany the officer, but I won't give Cheryl this news... that'll be up to the Trooper."
The Trooper is a female and that is somehow comforting. We arrive at the store and find the manager at the door to give us entry. I ask about Cheryl's location and as the manager points in her direction I see Cheryl look up at the Trooper and me from a distance of 50 feet or so.
Like the 3 A.M. phone call, she knows no good can be coming her way, and before we reach her she slumps to the floor, sobbing.
Doug worked as a Guard at one of our State Correctional facilities. In the early hours he apparently fell asleep at the wheel and hit an abutment at highway speed. He was killed instantly.
Adding insult to injury, his wallet and watch were stolen before first responders arrived. So their jobs were made more difficult, trying to insure which next of kin to notify.
Who would do such a thing? Wouldn't you love to catch someone in the act of robbing a corpse?
Where's my Tazer?