Prank calls

I loved making prank phone calls when I was a pre-teen.   When my mother would leave the house, I’d frantically call Linda and tell her to come over.  “Come over and play Kooky Calls”, I’d say.  She’d do the same for me, of course.  We had hours of fun at the expense of teachers, schoolmates and random strangers.

What with caller ID and well, being somewhat of a mature adult, I don’t have the opportunity for Kooky Calls any longer.  The only outlet I have for my phone creativity is to mess with solicitors.  I didn’t answer calls from unknown numbers for a long time, but they will call and call forever.  Maybe I should waste their time for a while and they will leave me alone, I think.

Unfortunately for my pranking instincts, most of the harassing calls I get are robocalls.  They’ve perfected the art of annoyance by hiring actors to record a reasonable facsimile of an actual call. There are spots for you, the victim, to respond and even leave a credit card number.

“Hi, this is Steve from the customer service department! Can you hear me okay?”

I say nothing.

“That’s great!, RoboSteve continues, breathless, like he can’t wait to give me some wonderful news.  “I wanted to let you know about an incredible deal you’re qualified for.  FREE airfare, all food and drink covered, hotel, FREE tickets to DisneyWorld and other attractions.  First, we need to get a couple of things from you.”

Of course.  I say nothing.

“You need to be over 18 to receive your FREE trip”, — here he gives a knowing chuckle — “and we’ll need to get a valid credit or debit card number from you to secure your place.”

Naturally, Steve.

“Are you over 18?”

Now’s the time for me to enter the game.  “I’m twelve”, I say.



“Now we’ll need that credit or debit card number”.

I’m tempted to give RoboSteve the number of a gift card that has $2.53 on it, but decide I’d rather use it for a cup of Caribou Coffee.

Instead, “Can I give it to you after I get my allowance?”, I wonder.

“Well, thanks for your time.  Sorry to bother you!” Click.

Getting the bum’s rush from a thief.  Kooky Calls aren’t as much fun as they used to be.


Out with the old, on to the new

I can’t stand this any more, I grumble.  The water heater has sprouted a leak, just the latest in a long line of things that have gone wrong in my house in the past several months.  Air conditioner?  Replaced.  Dishwasher? Repaired.  And now this.  My future buyer will get a much better house than I’ve had, that’s for sure.

I stand back and watch myself.  Why do you tolerate living with faulty equipment but shell out thousands of dollars to prepare a house for sale?

My secret hope was that the house would be deemed a tear-down and I could just clear out my possessions and skip away, leaving it to the wrecking crew to have their fun.  The acre lot my house sits on is filled with mature trees.  Although it’s a corner lot, it offers a wonderful degree of privacy.  I envision a charming cottage sitting here rather than the mid-60’s ranch house that I’ve called home for the past 11 years.

But, no such luck.  My realtor laughed and said the house is perfectly sellable.  It just needs some work.  Darn it.  I had been on the verge of calling “We Buy Ugly Houses”.

As I go about the process of sorting and packing, the donation pile grows.  Several car trips to Goodwill, my SUV packed to the gills.  Why do I have so much stuff, things I rid myself of with a big sigh of relief?   I mentally add up the money spent on the discards.  It could easily have paid for the air conditioner, a new kitchen and probably a new roof, too.  And maybe made a substantial contribution to paying down the national debt.  From here on out, I vow only to purchase things I will love forever.

As I carry a full box out of the office, I accidentally kick a doorstop from its position.  The door slowly goes half shut, the doorknob poking me in the back.   I am so sick of this!  There’s always something here that isn’t right.

The new house will be better, of course.  Clean and new, everything made to order and just how I like it.  I won’t be around long enough for it to hit its fourth decade, when windows become hard to open, appliances fail and garage door tracks are bent, making the door hard to work when the power goes out for days as it does at least annually.  Once, this house was new and someone was eagerly looking forward to living in their dream house.  That family knew it at its best.  I have just been here for the portly middle age, the time when things start to fall apart.

There are things I will miss when I move away.  Friends.  The yoga studio that is saving my back.  My caring, trusted vet.  The shopping and restaurants and the resort aura that flows around Lake Minnetonka.  Living in suburbia but only being a quick car ride from Minneapolis.

But there is a lot I won’t miss.  The rusty orange water that even a pricey whole-house water filter and high powered water softener doesn’t abate.  I haven’t had a white stay white for years, despite trying every whitening-brightening laundry product available.  I won’t miss having to prop every single door in the place open.  I won’t miss the kitchen that was likely here before the house was, or the groovy avocado green tiles in the master bath.  I shall not miss the humidity and dampness that makes me keep the the air conditioning running on perfectly beautiful days.

Still, I know that one day I will look back on this house, this place in the world, with nostalgia.  I will miss my trees. The ones I planted have grown so much in a decade.  The ones that were already here provide a thick screen from prying eyes and a lovely backdrop year ‘round. I will miss the burgeoning patch of lily of the valley that has grown from one lonely, depressed plant that struggled to live in the middle of a sunbaked wildflower garden to a delightfully fragrant patch growing in the shade of two large maple trees.  I’ll wonder if the luscious bleeding heart plant just outside the back door still thrives, and if the tiger lily is as studded with blooms as it has been in recent years.  Maybe the new owners will tear it all out, start over, do their own thing.  I’ll never know.  In my heart, the place will be the same as it always has been, only better.

Library Danger

I attract weirdos.  A friend told me it’s just because I am an observer, and I notice quirks and oddities more readily than many people, but I still believe I have a Weirdo Magnet buried deep inside me.  When the WM activates, look out.  Some unique person will find me.

So today I am at the Wayzata Public Library reading a book and a woman comes over with a large brown purse, an over-stuffed shopping bag and a tattered, shopworn black stuffed bear.  “Tsk”, she says, “there’s NO privacy around here!”

My silent presence in a window seat must have surprised her as she trudged around the corner.  “Well”, said I, “at least I’m quiet”.  As opposed to the jabbering crowd on the other side of the building.  When did SHHHHH in the library end?  Isn’t there one place where people can STFU???  These were older adults, too, who should know better.

Ms. Privacy-Seeker drops her purse and bag on a stool, and carefully places the bear in a chair, then begins rifling around in her bags.   Plastic clicking, wrappers wrinkling, heavy sighs…obviously, she is not concerned with quiet, either.  Her long and in-need-of-a-touch-up blonde hair is pulled into pigtails that sway limply with each hasty movement.  Sloppy flip-flops on dirty feet, navy sweat pants stretched to the limit and a plain blue sleeveless top complete her look.  Coupled with her hostile personality, I consider her a potential threat but I am stubborn.  I’m not moving so she and Ratty the Bear can be alone.

She moves old Ratty, carefully picking him up and placing him in a chair closer to where she stands, possibly to give him a better view of Lake Minnetonka. (It really is a lovely view.  Worth putting up with the Chatting Seniors Club to see it.)   Ms. Privacy strides off,  peeks around a door labeled Quiet Room.  Apparently, it’s occupied because she stomps back, picks up Ratty and her bags, and with a final glare at me, sticks her face in the bear’s ear, murmuring, “C’mon, baby, we’ll go somewhere else”.

I toyed with the idea of finding her and smirking as I sat nearby, but it’s too humid to be involved with the authorities today.  This one could have been dangerous.