The top two inadvertent cell phone calls are the pocket dial and the purse dial. I’d like to add a third: The I’m-carrying-in-groceries-and-my-phone-is-under-my-chin dial. I’ve called a neighbor so many times while carrying in groceries it’s a wonder she doesn’t ask me to take her out of my phone — or stop going to the store so often.
Recently, we have been recipients of the toddler dial. In some ways, the toddler dial is a throwback to the old heavy-breathing land line calls.
I answer the phone and there’s nothing but heavy breathing on the other end, the sort of heavy breathing that happens when you’re a toddler with a cold and no ability or interest in blowing your own nose.
“Hello, Sweetie. Did you mean to call Grandma? Grandma loves when you call.”
Sweetie doesn’t have much to say. He’s just breathing.
“Hello? Sweetie? Say something.”
Sweetie giggles then burst into maniacal laughing.
Why not? The kid has got ‘em now — he’s in possession of his dad’s cell phone, pushing people on speed dial, listening to adults shout, “Hello? Hello? Hello?” Meanwhile, the grown-ups who birthed him, parent him and tell him when he has to go to bed, when he can get up, what he can eat and when he needs to go potty, don’t have a clue what he’s up to. Score one for the toddler.
Then comes a clunk, thud and muffled clatter as the phone hits the floor, most likely disappearing into a mound of plastic dinosaurs. Maybe they’ll find the phone when someone needs a T. rex.
Sweetie calls back and breathes some more.
“I like talking to you, Sweetie, but Grandma is busy,” I say. “Why don’t you take the phone to Daddy?”
Cute kid. I hang up.
Sweetie calls again.
One toddler dial is cute, two toddler dials are fine, but three toddler dials border on telemarketing.
“Take the phone to your daddy. NOW.”
The toddler dial is on a par with the mother of a toddler calling you about something and abruptly screaming, “Noooooo! I have to go,” and hanging up.
You hope it’s not a broken bone or involves a lot of bleeding. You don’t exactly go on about business as usual, because you’re wondering if a little one is on the way to the ER. You’d call back but maybe the momma is still on the phone with 911. Maybe she’s driving the kid to the hospital herself.
She finally calls back and says it was “nothing.” Someone dumped one of those half-ton size bags of Veggie Straws on the floor. “Nothing” just took six months of my life.
I decide to call Sweetie back, hoping to speak to someone in charge. No answer. Clearly, Sweetie is still in charge and now screening calls from irritable Grandma.
Later that evening my daughter-in-law calls and says, “I see we missed a couple of calls from you earlier. Everything OK?”
“Great,” I say. “Just wanted to make sure all of you were still alive and breathing.”
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.