Mum on How Leaving a Message Should Work

Phone rings: I’m neck deep in deadline. Answering machine picks up. I listen.

Mum: Hi only me. Just letting you know Jason (my nephew) is home from school with concussion (from a rugby accident the previous day that I’m aware of). No need to call back.

Me: (I hear that and keep on keeping on. Hours later, I phone back). Hi, how’s Jace?

Mum: I called you six hours ago.

Me: (Look at clock — yes maybe… does seem like a long time ago). Yes, okay.

Mum: Well, why did it take so long to call back?

Me: You said there was no need to.

Mum: Well, I didn’t mean that.

Me: All right, so how is Jace?

Mum: What if it was serious?

Me: Concussion is serious.

Mum: No, what if I had bad news to tell you and it took you six hours to ring back.

Me: But you left a message so I knew what the news was.

Mum: What if your father was dead?

Me: What?

Mum: What if your father was dead and I didn’t want to leave a horrible message like that. Would it take you six hours to return my call?

Me: Um.

Mum: Well would it?

Me: I’m sure if it was something serious you’d say — ring me back urgently, not no need to call back.

Mum: But I wanted you to call back.

Me: And I have.

Mum: But that was this morning and now it’s night. Your father would’ve been dead a whole day.

Me: Is there anything wrong with Dad?

Mum: No. Why are you asking that?

Me: Oh I don’t know, perhaps because you keep going on about him being dead.

Mum: Well he’s not.

Me: Good to know.

Mum: Don’t you think I’d tell you if he was?

Me: I’m no longer sure of anything.

Mum: What’s that supposed to mean?

Me: Never mind.

Mum: So I just want you to ring back quicker. I can’t see why it had to take you so long.

Me: You saying there was no need to call back might’ve had something to do with it. Plus I’m working. You know that thing I do to pay the bills.

Mum: You can’t take what I say on a message as the only thing.

Me: Are you trying to tell me Dad is dead in a really roundabout way so as not to upset me?

Mum: (Laughing) No.

Me: So what you’re saying is you’re annoyed that I didn’t ring back quickly enough even though you said there was no need and I was busy.

Mum: What were you busy with?

Me: Does it matter?

Mum: No, you should’ve called me back quicker anyway.

Me: Because what you say on the answering machine might not be the truth

Mum: I’m hardly going to leave a message and lie am I?

Me: (Silent)

Mum: What if I don’t leave any message?

Me: What do you mean?

Mum: How long will it take you if I don’t leave any message?

Me: On my office phone?

Mum: Yes. Where I always leave messages.

Me: Okay, so if you don’t leave a message I probably won’t call you back.

Mum: I knew it.

Me: What do you know?

Mum: You’re awful.

Me: Because if you don’t leave a message I won’t call you back.

Mum: Yes.

Me: Can you see anything odd with that?

Mum: No, it’s typical you.

Me: So now you’re upset because if you ring me and don’t leave a message I won’t call you back.

Mum: Yes.

Me: That’s a bit unfair.

Mum: Why?

Me: If you don’t leave a message how am I supposed to know you’ve called. It’s not like my mobile. It’s like your phone. It doesn’t show numbers that have called and not left messages.

Mum: Oh. Well then, that’s stupid.

Me: Yes it is. When I next buy a phone I’ll make sure it shows missed calls so that you can ring me, not leave a message and I can ring you back.

Mum: That sounds silly — why wouldn’t I just leave a message?

Me: A message that might not be the actual real message.

Mum: (Laughing) You think you’re so smart don’t you.

Me: If I was so smart I’ve never have waited to ring you back.

Mum: See, now you’ve got the message.

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