Monday, November 19, 2007

please don't call me at work

My father's one of the smartest people I know. He multiplies five digit numbers together in his head for fun. He disassembles then reassembles things just to see how they work. He loves physics and often drones on about the forces that cause objects to act in certain ways. However, he is unable to perform the basic yet essential task called listening.

This makes my dad officially the most frustrating movie companion in the world. Because he doesn't listen, he picks up on major plot revelations or twists long after every single other viewer, including small children and dogs. Halfway through E.T., he actually said, "Oh, I get it, E.T.'s trying to phone home." I wish I were kidding.

Although I have repeated the work phone rule 40 million times, he apparently has not listened to that either. The rule is this: I work in an open concept office and I listen to other people's personal issues ad nauseum. I know, in great detail, who is fighting with his/her spouse/significant other/child/parent/shrink/dog groomer/investment banker/hairstylist. This has become so tedious that I have begged friends and family to email or IM me if they need to reach me during work hours. In case of emergency, I've asked them to call my cell phone, so that I can take the call in a boardroom or on a walk outside the building. Under no circumstances are friends and family to call my work landline.

Today my father called my work landline. I immediately thought this to be the biggest emergency ever.

Me: What's wrong?

Father: Nothing, I'm just calling to see how your car is.

Me [forgetting that I had a brake job on the weekend and thinking that my dad had somehow divined that one of my lights had blown this morning]: Oh, well, you know, it's just a blown headlamp. I'm going to go pick up a replacement after work.

Father: Blown headlamps? Oh no! You didn't drive to work, did you? You can't be driving around with no lights. You're going to get hit! Tell me you didn't drive yourself to work. You need to get the car to a garage. DON'T DRIVE ANYWHERE.

Me [cringing at my obvious error and trying desperately to get out of this conversation that is clearly descending into my father's usual paranoia. Also conscious of the fact that every one of my work neighbours is listening to my end of this conversation]: Dad, stop talking for a second and listen, please. I said ONE blown headlamp. It's my front left. Everything else is still working, OK?

Father: I can't believe you drove to work! What were you thinking? Your car is clearly broken! I saw you on Saturday and all of them were working and all of a sudden you have no lights! You need to take your car in! There is something wrong and you're going to get killed on the roads! You need to leave work now!! Drive your car to a shop near me right now and I'll come pick you up.

Me [voice rising in frustration]: You're NOT listening. I said that ONE light has blown. I'm only missing my front left headlamp. I'm going to pick up a new one.

Father: What do you mean "going to pick up??" You CAN'T drive like this. I can't believe you're telling me this. What's wrong with you? You never listen to me. You think the rules don't apply to you. You're going to get yourself killed and then we'll see who's right!!!

Me [practically yelling, and speaking very, very slowly]: You're the one who's NOT LISTENING. They're ALL working EXCEPT ONE. Everything is FINE. Please LISTEN to me. ONLY THE FRONT LEFT IS BROKEN.

Father: Oh, it's only your front left headlamp? Well, you can just stop by the store and pick up a replacement. That's no big deal. Why didn't you just say so? And you don't have to yell at me, you know.

Me: I have to go. Bye.

In typical open concept office style, three people came by afterwards to chitchat about this conversation. One said, "Wow, I've never heard you raise your voice like that before. That had to have been family."

Why, dad, why?


1 comment:

Emory said...

I didn't get it. Why are you driving without headlights and shouting at your father?

*---> leaves room to sharpen the pin on his head*