Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind

Article excerpt

A phone call that started off badly spun into a day full of curious conversations.

"Hello. Who is this?" There was a second's worth of silence on the other end of the phone. "Who the heck is this?" was the response that shocked me more then surprised me. The conversation went back and forth for the next few seconds until I finally realized whom I was talking to. It was my niece Kelly's husband.

At first I couldn't understand his response. But then he reminded me that I had called him and that it is logical to assume that if one calls someone, the caller should know whom he or she is trying to call. It was as if a bell went off in my head. I told him that he was right and that my question as to who this was had been more of a reflex response than a real inquiry.

We laughed, so much that I forgot why I was calling. A similar situation happened a few days ago. The phone rang during dinner and the person on the other end asked who I was. I reminded her that she had called me, but then she asked why I had called her. Called her? She explained that someone had called her and hung up and that she used a technology called *69 to see who it was. I told her that no one had been near the phone over the past couple of hours. She responded by hanging up on me.

Both instances brought up the question of how many times I used the phone and asked who it was that I had called and how many times I received a phone call only to be asked who I was. After awhile my head started to hurt. So I shook the thought off and went on with my day.

One of my tasks was to help my wife with the grocery shopping. At the meat counter, where I was in my usual confused state, I heard someone asking me from afar, "Is that you?" I was about to turn around and simply say yes when all of a sudden my mind wandered back to the conversation I had had with my niece's husband. I turned around and asked the person, who turned out to be an old neighbor, who I was supposed to be. He stopped in his tracks, gave me a confused stare, and then finally asked when I had become so unfriendly and abusive. …

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