Thursday, July 8, 2010

Of Nanny and Telephones

My grandma (we call her Nanny) has a strained relationship with telephones of all kinds.  She had issues with party lines back in the day.  She had issues with answering machines (you know, the kinds with the tiny tapes inside?)  She had issues with her car with the built-in car phone.  She has had issues with a variety of cordless phones.  And she has issues with cell phones that seem almost unimaginable. 

Back when people had party lines, she had the problem of nosy neighbors listening in.  Sometimes she would talk about them while they were listening.  Sometimes it was on purpose... sometimes not.

When answering machines came into the picture, she had problems knowing when to start talking.  If we got a message that really wasn't a message at all, we knew to call Nanny.  They went a little like this:

"*BANG!!!*  *CRASH!!!*  *Rattle-rattle BOOM!* (pots and pans clattering) *Running water*.........Tiiiiiiiiiiiiim..... I'm cooking supper and I was wond-"  (abrupt cut off because the tape ran out while she was washing dishes  for 45 seconds instead of talking).


"......... (pause...... pause..... pause......)  Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiin.  (She has an uncanny ability to stretch names into multiple syllables)  Call me back!"

Then one day, Nanny bought a new car that had a built in car phone.  Not a CELL phone which could leave the car, but a car phone that was built in and worked through the speakers.  You pushed a button above the rear view mirror, and a man with a very proper accent would say, "Name please."

You had to pre-program everyone's number in somehow, which was very complicated and involved my father sitting there with the manuel and wrinkling his eyebrows and pushing lots of buttons.  Then, you recorded yourself saying the name that went with the phone number, and the car was supposed to recognize your voice and dial the number.

Only here's the problem.  When Nanny recorded the names, she said them all very properly and they had the appropriate number of syllables, such as, "Tim.  Home.  Robyn."

This is what happened when she actually attempted to call them: 

*Pushes button*
Car:  Name please.
Nanny:  Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim.

*pause* Car is trying to decipher this strange, Southern drawl.

Car:  Repeat please.

*pause again*  You can almost sense the car's frustration.

Car:  Once more.

Car:  Name not recognized.
Nanny:  *pushing button again* Well, I said it, plain as day!

(Situation repeats indefinitely.  Call never goes through.)

They eventually had the car phone disconnected.

One time, I went over to Nanny and Papa's house and they were searching high and low for the cordless phone.  One of them would run into the bedroom and hit the "page" button so that the receiver would beep.  Unfortunately, it only beeped for a few seconds and by the time they could get back in there and begin to hear it, it would stop.  I tried pushing the button for them so they could stay in there and listen for the beep near places where they thought the phone might be.  I tried letting them push the button while I listened for the phone all over the house.  It seemed to be coming from everywhere.... but nowhere.  I crawled under things.  I pointed flashlights in every nook and cranny.  After literally 30 minutes of this, I was able to narrow it down to one room.  I finally found it.

It was between a small table and the wall, wedged down near the floor, and it appeared that it would have been almost impossible for it to get in quite that position without help.

They both blamed each other.  Both swore up and down they had not talked on the phone that day AT ALL.  Both insisted that they ALWAYS hang it back up when they finish talking. 

*I love these two individuals!  I know I'm very lucky to still have such funny, loving, entertaining, supportive grandparents as an adult.  I don't know what I'd do without them!*

But back to my last phone story.  Nanny has a cell phone now.  She has dropped 3 cell phones into the toilet while cleaning it.  She has left one cell phone on top of the car and drove away.  She has run over a cell phone.  And she has dropped her recent one so many times that it stopped working.  So off to the cell phone company we went, broken phone in tow.

Nanny decided to try calling her cell phone to see if it would ring while we waited.  It went straight to voice mail, and her voice came on saying (rather sternly!)  "Hello! Please leave your name and number....".  She stared at the phone with astonishment.  Her mouth dropped open.

"What in the WORLD was that?!"  she asked.  "I have NEVER made that message!"

Me:  "Well, Nanny.... apparently you did, because it's you talking.  It's YOUR voice!"

Nanny:  "Well it might be me talking, but I did NOT make that message!" 

Oh, my.  Can you still sign up for party lines?  I think we had the best luck with those!

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