dear grandchildren: your grandmother has the wrong number

There is in Melbourne a little old Eastern European1 lady, who has the wrong number. Namely, my direct line at the dayjob.

She doesn't call often, all told. Somehow, she knows exactly when I'm not at my desk, be it through illness or holiday or simply the fact that it's 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. That's when she calls. And listens to my voicemail announcement stating my name and place of employment. And finally leaves me a long and rambling voice message in her mother tongue. She's not disgruntled, and though to my ear her language sounds a little growly I suspect she's just chatting. Leaving a message for a family member.

Does she not wonder why her family member's home phone number has such a strange, business-centric answering machine? Is her only contact with this family member through my phone — does she never meet her in person, even once a year, and in the inevitable confusion discover that her messages were never received? One message, which I discovered on my return from Mongolia, was at least five minutes long, full of lilting incomprehensibilities.

I wonder what she's telling me in those messages. That I never return her calls? Not to eat the boiled sheep's head? To get back to work already, lazy sod?

  1. I'm guessing []

4 thoughts on “dear grandchildren: your grandmother has the wrong number

  1. I had the same thing happen with my mobile for a few months. A woman would call up and start yammering away in Cantonese at me, which just added to the confusion as I thought maybe it was one of my relatives, but then, the only female relative I have who can't speak English is Oma, and it certainly wasn't her.

    She would start interrogating me, as if how DARE I not be whoever she was calling! Eventually she got the message. Persistent though.

    I like your dear old lady. Maybe she has answering machines staked out around the city, for whenever she wants someone to talk to.

  2. I'm growing quite fond of her, I must admit. I'd REALLY like to know how she knows to call whenever I take a day off. It's a real talent.

  3. Do you ever listen to 'This American Life', broadcast here in the US on National Public Radio?

    This would be just the sort of story Ira Glass would cover. I still remember one where the show tracked items sold in the classified — wondering where they were first purchased, why they were on-sold, and where they ended up. It was strangely fascinating, as is your tale.

  4. Can't say I've ever heard it – must admit to not listening to the radio much since gaining an ipod, actually.

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