Posts Tagged 'robocalls'

Hello, is Ila there?

Hello, is Ila there?

Ever since the Ojai fire in early December and the mass slaughter of old wooden telephone poles, nearly all of my calls come through my cell phone. My landline returned after four months. But by then I had weaned myself from a wired connection. I still do get landline calls and nearly one hundred percent of them are from people who want my money.

So, through necessity, I’ve developed a keen ear for determining whether the incoming call has been placed by some insensitive machine. You’ve probably learned the same trick of identifying robo-calls. It’s that slight hesitation as though no one is there, coupled with a tell-tale bleep, warning you that you are about to be connected to a real person. Like a well-trained gunslinger, I can usually press the end-call button before the connection is completed.

But sometimes the call is placed directly and so I’m required to listen to someone speak a few words before consigning the call to a far-away place. And that’s what happened around two o’clock Monday, about thirty-six hours after my return from Costa Rica. Maybe it was the jet lag that made me slow on the draw…or maybe it was something else.

Hello, is Ila there?  For what seemed like an eternity, I sat there, phone in hand, and didn’t know how to respond.  A series of possible answers flowed through my brain at warp speed.

Sorry. Ila passed away 

She doesn’t live here any more

No one here by that name

Please don’t call me again, my wife died nearly a year ago

After what seemed like eons of silence, I finally settled on No, she’s not here.  And I hung up before the caller could respond with obligatory condolences.

But that’s a lie. Ila is in fact here. Little bits of her have touched many people and she continues to influence their lives. Her DNA is deposited in her children and her grandchildren. Her honesty, generosity and morality have cascaded to her offspring. And will someday reside in her great-grandchildren.

I was sharply reminded of this by my daughter, Nancy, at dinner in Costa Rica last Friday. On a Friday that marked eleven months since Ila’s death. On a Friday that would normally have found me in the synagogue where I would stand and say the Mourner’s Kaddish, the prayer for those who have passed out of our lives.

Instead, we were in a celebratory mood, having spent the last week enjoying all that Costa Rica has to offer including its abundant scenery, local food and wonderful people. It was our last night and ten of us were feeling no pain.

And then Nancy stood and said with great difficulty “Before this all ends, we need to remember those who are not here with us.” As tears filled her eyes, I looked around the table and saw all the people, now silent, who had been touched by Ila.

Her DNA, morals and peculiarities can be easily found in her two children. Her three grandchildren are fortunate offspring sharing in the gifts presented by Ila. In turn, her influence has helped lead her children in their selection of their partners.

And I am the principal beneficiary of her love and largess, freely given to me during nearly sixty years of knowing and loving her. She, who was a partner in all we did. She, who probably engineered the Chicago snowstorm that convinced us to move to California. She, who insisted that I start a business and stick with it despite the all too frequent times that found me questioning my judgment. She, who always stood by me as we weathered the periodic storms that nearly engulfed us.

And it goes on today to affect others. People ask me “Do you think that Ila is happy that you are not alone?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do think she would be happy with the new woman in my life. I know that my choice of a loving soul mate has been influenced by the woman who came before her.

So, the next time some caller asks Is Ila there? I’ll say Yes, but she’s busy now.

Hats and buttons

Sweetie and I were in Westridge market yesterday.  As I was picking out some shitake mushrooms for the chicken dish we were planning that evening, I looked up and found my old friend Steve walking toward me.  Hadn’t seen him for several months.  Fact is I only see Steve at the local markets.

He’s a working stiff in the construction business and a bright, amiable guy.  Steve’s always ready to give me some help figuring out a plumbing problem, carpentry challenge or anything else at which I exhibit the qualities of a certified doofus.

As usual, my Obama/Biden button was securely pinned to left side of my t-shirt.  My old friend Steve was wearing a McCain/Palin baseball cap.  A really good looking, obviously American-made one.  As my mother-in-law Marge might have said, “I was shocked.”  How could Steve, who is no dummy and who must be impacted by the economic meltdown, possibly be a supporter of the Old Guy and the Snow Queen?  I thought “What’s a nice guy like Steve doing supporting two people who are not?  Doesn’t he read the papers?  Doesn’t he watch TV?  Doesn’t he read my blog?”

I wondered if he knew about the Rudy Giuliani robocalls where he says Obama is a weak-on-crime liberal who’s against mandatory prison terms for sex offenders and murderers.  Or the other ones from faceless callers that warn old ladies about the Muslim’s nefarious relationship with terrorists.  Why wasn’t Steve outraged about the Snow Queen’s gazilliion dollar wardrobe and the $22,000 paid to her hairdresser by the Republican National Committee in the first two weeks of October?  Money that came out of Steve’s pocket.  Doesn’t he care about the Old Guy’s quick trigger temper and rapid fire u-turns?  Wasn’t he just a teenie weenie bit concerned about McCain’s mental state as evidenced by his choice of a running mate?  And why wasn’t he worried about the Old Guy dropping dead during his inaugural speech and turning the reins of government over to someone who thinks “foreign relations” refers to my ancestors in the Ukraine?

My life was flashing before my eyes.  I kept talking to Steve about the weather, his job and his family.  And eyeing that awful baseball cap.  I’m sure he saw my Obama button especially since at that moment I felt it must measure three feet across and have a spotlight focused on it.  I wondered if Steve was thinking stuff like “How can that nice old guy support someone like that Muslim?  What can he possibly be thinking?  I always thought he was a pretty sharp guy.  Maybe he’s senile.”

Maybe I am.  Maybe I think we can actually win this election.  Maybe I think that Colin Powell’s endorsement must mean something.  Maybe I think that this country is in need of a change…a big one.  Maybe the fact that American Muslims are fighting for this country alongside non-Muslims means something to those who are afraid of anyone different.  Maybe we actually think we want smart people leading us instead of someone who’s just average…at best.  Maybe Steve needs a new hat.

 


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