Learning via Eavesdropping

Sometimes I forget that my cubicle neighbors at work can hear my phone conversations.  I think that if it’s important (like with my doctor’s office), my lowered voice is sufficient to keep the conversation basically private.  But when I’m not trying to hide it, they can – and do – hear every word.

Today, my daughter, home for summer break, called me.  Only, when I answered, she didn’t say anything.  I did the whole “Hello?  Hello?  Jane?  Can you hear me?” bit before hanging up.

When I had arrived at work this morning, the light indicating voice mail messages was blinking.  I was surprised to discover that there were 3 messages waiting.  Most workplace communication occurs either a) via email or b) during regular business hours so I am unaccustomed to unexpected voice mails.  The expected ones tend to be automated messages from the school that I already know about because they also went to my cell phone.  Plus, school isn’t in session.

I was surprised when the computer voice recited my daughter’s phone number as the originator of the first message and further surprised when it gave a time that was obviously after I would have left work.  And then I heard the message.  No talking directly into the phone.  Just background noise.  Background noise that I recognized.  It was the school board meeting from the night before.  She had obviously “dialed” me while leaning against the wall waiting for recognition for an achievement.

I quickly dispatched the other two messages as well after confirming that they were more of the same.  So when she called again this morning and did not say anything, I assumed she was doing it again.  I immediately called her back.

“Hi, Mommy,” she said.

“Hey, sweetheart.  Can you do me a favor?”

“What’s that?”

“When we get off the phone, please immediately call someone else.  Anyone.”


“Because then when you butt dial, it’ll be someone else instead of me.”

“But I didn’t butt dial you!  I was calling you because you called me this morning.”

“Well, you didn’t say anything so I assumed it was another butt dial.  I had three on my voice mail when I got here this morning.  You kept butt dialing me at the school board meeting.”

While we then discussed the reason for the call and her assertion that this was why she needed a better phone (read that as ‘an iPhone’), I heard my nearest neighbor laughing.  The laughter was not dissipating and I strongly suspected it was due to my conversation.

I then heard him move to the cubicle next to him and whisper (loud enough for me to hear because he is *not* a quiet man) to the next guy about the term “butt dial” which was apparently completely new to him.  He was incredibly tickled by the term and I found myself chuckling at his amusement.

I then quietly related the situation to my daughter since I suspected I wasn’t giving her my full attention.  She laughed but then reiterated her claim that the butt dialing was her phone’s fault.

“Phones don’t call people, honey; people call people!”  This assertion cracked me up, in part because the guy behind me is such an ardent gun enthusiast that he probably has the original phrase about guns on a bumper sticker or two.  Jane didn’t get it though so I had to explain it.

So the woman who is usually the most clueless person in the room was able to enlighten two different people.  I feel so worldly and knowledgeable.


Bubba Bob

We are nearing the end of our gender-separated vacation. Jane and I have one more full day in Washington, D.C. with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. My husband and the boys are heading home tomorrow with Grace’s boyfriend, Bob. While we took in the city-dwelling sights, the boys were looking at the splendors of nature: visiting Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and other great camping destinations.

With a two hour time difference and spotty cell phone reception on their end, we haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time in contact with each other. Tonight, I was stretched out on the bed in our hotel, trying to recover from over-indulging at the Ethiopian restaurant we visited tonight. I was bored and had tried, unsuccessfully, to contact my husband.

As I cruised YouTube on my phone, it suddenly rang. My husband! Yay! Grace looked up. “Where are they? Are they still on the road?”

“No,” I replied. “They are in for the night.” She scrambled to grab her phone and then sprawled across the other bed. Within minutes, I could hear Bob’s voice through her phone. We each greedily began exchanging information with our significant others.

After awhile, my husband said that Hal wanted to talk to me. I talked to my four year old for a few brief minutes and then he asked if I wanted to speak to… Bobba? I wasn’t sure what he said but figured he meant “Bubba” since that’s who I always talk to next.

“Sure! I definitely want to talk to him,” I said.

I then listened to him call out to people, asking where Bob is. Bob? No, wait! I want to talk to Daryl! I sighed as I waited for it to get straightened out on the other end. I could clearly hear Bob’s voice through Grace’s phone. I then heard Hal ask his Daddy for Bob.

“Why do you want Bob? Are you done talking to Mommy? Let’s let Daryl talk to her now.”

“But she wants to talk to Bob!”

I was laughing by the time my husband got on the phone. “No, I don’t want to talk to Bob. I thought he said ‘Bubba’. Can I talk to Daryl now?”

I’m not used to Daryl sounding so excited on the phone. He had obviously had a great time on the trip. After we talked for a few minutes, he asked, “Do you want to talk back to Daddy now?”

Before I could answer, I heard a panicked and indignant Hal call out, “NOOO!!!! She wants to talk to BOB!!”

Daddy explained the confusion to him and we all had a good laugh over it on our end. He was so cute trying to fulfill his understanding of my wishes. But, really… Bob’s a nice guy and all but why would I want to talk to him before I talk to my own son?