Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dr. Rullsenberg's Office

I am definitely considering answering the phone in this way (thanks John) following this happening at the weekend:

In bed, Sunday morning, still asleep.

Phone rings: years of having to run and answer the phone to the ageing pa has left me unable to leave a phone ringing without running to answer it. Unfortunately, when we had storms a few weeks ago, our extension cable blew that powers the phone upstairs. So down the stairs I fly, scarcely awake.

And in picking up the phone proceeded to knock myself in the eye with the handset as I blearedly tried to not drop it or let it ring too long before kicking to the answerphone.

Great: so now I'm tired, startled from sleep and a formerly protruding vein just beneath my eye has now been caught, is swelling and bleeding slightly.

Now is not a good time to open with this line:
"Is that Mrs. X?" (X being the badly chosen nomdeplum for Cloud's surname)

Usually this indicates a cold calling error, but there is no suspiciously long pause before the voice kicks in so maybe it's more genuine.

Deep breath, still disorientated from hitting myself in the eye (was I subconsiously reliving Fight Club, which we had watched the other night?)
"No, but can I ask who it is calling?"

"So this isn't Mrs Roberts?"

"Can I ask who it is calling?"

"We're the ambulance control centre. It's regarding Mrs Y - we have her next door neighbours as key holders"

"Well, I am her next door neighbour. What's happened?"

"But you're not Mrs X?"

"No, but I am the key holder who lives next door. What's happened?"

"So you live on the other side of Mr and Mrs X?"

"No, I live with Mr X: what's happened? What do you need me to do?"

"So who are you if you're not Mrs X?"

"If it is possible to grasp this, two people live together who are not Mr and Mrs X: now can you tell me what's happened?!"

"She's had a fall and we wanted you to check that she has been able to open the front door because the ambulance is on its way."
Throw on clothes decent enough to go round next door, still dizzy from hit in the eye. Turns out door was open, care visitor/neighbour was already there, and apart from neighbour needing a bit of a hug, kiss, clean-up of blood and reassurance that she wouldn't be in trouble for falling over there was little for me to do (though she was grateful bless her for those things). Ambulance people came not long after and I staggered home.

Maybe it would just be easier to take Tyler's approach to answering the phone and just 1471/answer-machine every incoming call.


David Duff said...

Such a comfort to know that other people hit themselves with the handset of a telephone.

As to the mix-up with your surname, dare I suggest (please imagine a tremulous whisper) - marriage?! A wonderful institution, as the 'little memsahib' would tell you if she wasn't so busy finishing the ironing and getting my dinner ready.

Reidski said...

Hope the neighbour recovered okay!
I used to get really really angry with those calls which would start "is this Mr X?" which assumed that, as I shared the same house as 'er indoors, I was married to her. "There is no Mr X, unless you are talking about the boy," I would reply. Stunned silence would follow for a few moments before we would get to the fucking point of the phone call rather in trying to determine the relationships going on in the household. Now, of course, as me and 'er indoors merely share a house and child rather than relationship (now there's a story of a modern relationship - but that's for another day), those phone calls get even more bizarre, particularly when the question after the Mr X one is "well, are you her partner" and I reply in the negative. This is getting too complicated to even describe - I'll get my coat!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Neighbour is fine: she'd knocked her chin and nose and bloodied herself a bit but was mostly shook up. Poor gal was due to go in this week for a leg operation and she was mostly bothered if they'd stop her having that.

Occasionally I have answered some cold callers assumming I am Mrs X by saying "No I'm Dr Z and he isn't interested in talking to a mortgage company" - the trouble with that is that it can come across as if I am his doctor (psychiatrist?!) and he is a restrained patient! Ooops!

Rob said...

My wife is still in touch with a lot of college friends and they have reunions every five years or so. One of these (many years ago) was on a campsite in the Lake District. The couple who were organising it comprised a high-powered hydrological engineer (sufficiently high-powered to get an OBE a few years later) and her husband who was a pharmacist. The campsite organisers simply could not get their heads round the idea that Dr Walker was the woman, not the man, so Dr Walker he duly became for the weekend, much to everyone's amusement.

zef said...

ow! one of the worst things is being woken up in the morning (and a sunday!) is when its the phone!! and talk about adding insult to injury.


glad the neighbour is okay, but good lord! all that for basically nothing in the end.

and phone confusion, oh yeah, try being the child who sounds like the parent... thats fun to deal with too!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Rob, funny tale about the campsite.

I remember a story that one of the airline companies doesn't - or at least didn't at the time when the Guardian was investigating through its consumer column - allow women to book tickets under the title of Dr. But did allow men.


I'm generally not gratuitous about using my title (even though I worked hard for it) unless assumptions are made about me being married. Then I tend to get cranky...

Just Jane said...

The only trouble is Lisa, that in these enlightened times, if you did answer with 'Dr Rullsenberg's office' the chances are they would say 'Can I speak to him please?'