At some point in each call to a customer service representative, or worse still technical assistance which is a painful oxymoron in and of itself, I pause and wonder how the conversation might go if I could reach through the ether of the phone and grab the script. Would the voice on the other end suddenly become attached to a person, ripped from its computer home? Would that person engage in pleasantries for a bit before telling me that I should go to the website where I will inevitably learn that there is nothing they can or will do for me? And why is a call to my local doctor garbled, but my computer voice in India is crisp, clear if never fully intelligible?
We live in the cell phone age and there are hidden advantages that the young, exchanging last year’s model for this, will never fully understand until they, too, are much older.
With the push of a button, held in for five seconds, the phone will go off at night, and since no one any longer has a landline, you are assured that no one will drag you from sleep to announce they are able to extend the warranty on a car you sold two years ago, or to say that a friend or relative has died, and denying death night hours is the closest thing you can do to feel that you are in control of anything.
It’s Sunday, so I know, before long
I will have the nagging thought
that I should call my mother.
I’ve had this thought for years,
once acted upon it with regularity,
listened patiently for her weekly
list of things I needed to help her with,
since I never visited to do the work
with her standing over my shoulder.
I stopped the calls four years ago
because the dead make few demands,
and she didn’t bother to answer
except in the darkest hour
of my dreams.
She says you should not put all of your eggs in one basket. I remind her that I’m not terribly fond of eggs, and only rarely have more than one, and in any event, I keep them in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage. She says, so why is it we have no TV, no phone, no Internet, tell me that, wiseguy. I steer away from eggs and baskets and simply respond, because we have yet again been stranded on that barren, fruitless island known to all, hated by them, as Comcast. We both shrug our shoulders in resignation to our fate.
You must be home now, or somewhere you can answer my call, and the busy signal or disembodied voice, purporting to be you can only mean that this very moment if you are calling me the busy signal or disembodied voice purporting to be me is giving you a momentary frustration rivaling my own. This must be the state of the world for otherwise you failure to answer could mean but one thing, and I can no more accept the preposterous idea that you might actually be speaking to someone else rather than awaiting my call with bated breath, and certainly not that you are sleeping, your phone switched off, never mind that where you are, it is well past midnight.
It’s 12 degrees the night air slices through my sweater my teeth chatter. Standing in the lot fetching my cell phone from the glove box my breath congeals around my face a cloud. I look up at the moon snowflakes dancing on my forehead. Luna’s face is shrouded by a cirrus veil, but her eyes are yours her lips soft caressing curl upwards in a smile as yours. I tell her of my love and she whispers her love reflectively in the voice I hear as I curl next to your picture slipping slowly into sleep.