Ghosts on the Line
More than thirty years ago, Husband and I, along with three kids, two dogs and a few tropical fish moved into the house in Davis, Oklahoma. No one told me that ghosts lived in the house and they toyed with the phone lines on a daily basis.
Of course I had to call the electric company, the phone company and every other company in the whole great state of Oklahoma but it wasn't any big deal. The last time we'd moved I'd talked to a sweet little lady named Anna and she'd done everything in five minutes.
“Thank you for calling this electric company,” an automated voice said. It didn’t have any sign of a Texas drawl or even of an Okie brogue. Matter of fact, it sounded like it might have come from Mars and we'd barely made it to the moon. Mars was still a twinkle in the scientists' eyes, or maybe in the phone ghost's eyes.
“If you are calling about your account press one. If you are calling concerning the nature of your latest bill, press two. If you are calling about new service, have your social security number, the date of your birth, whether you like dark chocolate or light best, what brand of toilet paper you use and your grandmother's neighbor's maiden name ready and press three.”
I pressed three and waited. I vacuumed the whole house, loaded the dishwasher, unpacked two more boxes and wrote another chapter in the romance book I was working on. Finally, I got a flat voice that I'm sure belonged to the ghost, “All of our representatives are busy right now. Please do not hang up. We appreciate your business.”
Hang up? I wasn’t about to hang up. I wiped out the ‘fridge and loaded it up with groceries, scrubbed both bathrooms and hung up a roll of toilet paper. All the while some kind of music from the moon where I'm sure ghosts are spawned was piped into my ear.
It got dark outside and I started to yawn.
Finally, a real person answered the phone. “This is Anna. What can I do for you?”
"Is the same Anna who took care of this kind of business twenty two years ago?” I asked.
“This is her granddaughter. Do you have your husband's social security number?” She asked.
"I've got everything but that but I know it so..." I rattled it off. "And I like milk chocolate and I use whatever toilet paper is on sale."
She giggled. "Grandma always said she was coming back to haunt the telephone lines. I don't need all that, just your husband's number."
Next item on the list was a toll free number to call about Internet services. I pushed all the buttons and the automated voice came on, “If you are calling about new service, press one. If you are calling about your bill, press two. If you are ...”
I pressed every button at least twice. Another voice said, “You are important to us. Please do not hang up.”
In seconds a familiar voice came on the line, “Hello this is Anna. How may I help you?”
“I need Internet, a newspaper delivered in the mornings, pizza coupons, a card for the local grocery store, the name of a good cleaners, directions to the nearest Wal-Mart, a recipe for shoo-fly pie and to be put on the list for weekly discount coupons for area stores,” I said.
“I’ll take care of all of it. Has your husband changed his social security number in the last five minutes?”
“No, ma’am,” I said. "And tell your grandmother I'd rather that she took up abode in my kitchen than over the phone lines."
The next day the coffee pot was in the refrigerator.
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She and her husband have three grown children, enough grandchildren to keep them young and two tom cats that rule the back yard.