Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phone Rings and Destiny Is on the Line

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phone Rings and Destiny Is on the Line

Article excerpt

The dog days of August haven't been terribly hot, but I still sense a general desire to escape and loll about. Or am I projecting?

Either way, something light is in order. So let me share with you the "Tale of the Wrong Number." Perhaps you can rescue a star- crossed couple.

Or you can laugh at my ineptitude and feel better about yourself. Either way, the reader wins!

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, the landline rang. If it's the landline, it's either my mom, a sales pitch or a political robo-call.

If the voice is female and the accent Texan, it's my mom. If the accent is generic American but the tone almost oratorical, I'm going to be hanging up on a political fundraising appeal.

If it's unintelligible, it's a sales pitch from some awful overseas call center.

This time, the accent said "call center," but the speaker immediately identified himself as "Peter" and rushed headlong into some personal, friendly chit-chat.

When he asked a question and paused for an answer, I said, "I'm sorry - who did you say you are?"

"Peter! From the conference.?"

OK, I participate in a nonprofit group we all refer to as "The Conference," and I figured it was my general grogginess at fault here, not enough caffeine absorbed yet, so I strung together some noncommittal but cheerful words and tried to fake it till I figured this out.

"It was so great to meet you," he said.

"You, too," I said, casting my mind back through the last few months' meetings to try to retrieve a man named Peter. How had he gotten my number? Maybe the sign-in sheet?

"So what's new with you?" he asked.

Since I thought we were talking about The Conference and thus community redevelopment, I gave him a light, brief update on what's going on in my neighborhood - a big property successfully sold (almost) and grant applications just finished.

All the while I'm still thinking, Who the heck is this?

So I fished for information by politely asking, "And what's new with you?"

"Well, I've moved to Brooklyn!"

"Really!" By this point the wracking of my brain was so loud it drowned out whatever explanation he gave for the move. …

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