My wife works some part-time hours at the local hardware store a couple nights a week and on some weekends. It’s a comfortable schedule and passes the time productively since we became empty nesters--a phenomenon we’re still getting used to.
With the ease of operation afforded us through texting and cell phones, she is able to predict her floating lunch hour pretty well and most Sundays we hook up for a bite out at a local joint. It’s usually right around the time I get out of church, where I still play drums in the worship band.
I guess I didn’t realize it, but due to the availability and/or constant access we have to each other through the cell phones, we kind of keep a running awareness of each other throughout the weekend days. So a typical Sunday may include an unimportant but staggered exchange of texts like this throughout the morning:
She: Wow. Store really busy this morning. Lots of folks buying perennials.
Me: Yeah sure--beautiful sunny day today. Church crowd equally sparse. They’re all planting. Ha!
She: Temps rising. Getting really warm. Taking a bathroom and water break.
Me: Ha--wouldn’t know… enjoying the a/c cranked full blast.
She: Must be nice--I’m getting hungry--where shall we lunch today old buddy?
Me: I’ll be in front of your place in about 45 minutes--up for a burger or more like a salad today?
She: Either way--see you around 1 then.
Me: Got it.
So as you can see just simple banter; couple stuff--the ease of 27 years of marriage dictating the easy exchange and pace of two people who know each other well, right?
So last week Sunday began like always. I’m up earlier than she, so I put the coffee on, shower, dress in my den so she can sleep and head downstairs. She follows shortly and we talk a bit before we both head off in our weekly but different directions. Before we part, however, she says this, “I’ll be stocking shelves today so if I don’t answer your texts right away I’m just unavailable. Let’s just say we’ll meet at 12:30 at the sub shop and that will make it easy.”
“That works for me,” I said. “See you then.”
SPOILER ALERT* Now here’s the part where I start being a guy and screw the whole thing up, right?
You guessed it.
Now come on guys, with that kind of agreement I’m off the hook right? I don’t have to play phone tag all morning because I hate talking on the phone. I hate texting. I hate filling the silence with useless words. We made an arrangement so I’ll see her at 12:30 at the sub shop. That’s what she said right?
That’s what I HEARD. She said IF I don’t answer which evidently left it open for she MIGHT. Silly man.
So with my misunderstanding fully packed into my chauvinistic head, I parked my truck and left my phone in the car.
(GO INTO SLOW MOTION HERE) - - - - - NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
So church wraps up. I pack away my drums and leisurely walk to my chariot. And oh boy, once inside I pick up the phone and find a litany of messages that seem to grow progressively more irritated at each line of time. Clearly I misinterpreted a bit.
Being my frank self, I text this well-crafted line.
“Sorry. Left my phone in the car--thought we had lunch all arranged.”
Who wants to guess what four letter word I got in response?
No, that’s not it.
Um wow I didn’t know that one.
Geez--uh no. How come only ladies are answering?
Hey, that’s not four letters that’s like 25.
C’mon guys you know the answer.
It’s the one we men all know so well.
“F I N E!”
Aarrrrghhhh--anything but FINE.
So I got to the sub shop quickly and ordered for both of us--had everything laid out when she came in. Now in all fairness, she’s way too classy to start an argument out of something so frivolous, but she spent the next few moments making clear my misinterpretation including and especially that something bad could have happened and I’d have never known.
Now in the back of my head I think about how, before cell phones, it was all kind of just a belief that bad things didn’t happen that often and that this newly minted need to have 24 hour access and awareness of each other has been wrapped in this “phony” (pun intended) excuse. But I say nothing--I just nod.
Which she hates, but lets it go. We dine, we laugh, we say goodbye and she heads back to work. I head home and plan to do some work in the yard but you better believe I've got the phone ringer turned up high.
After all--what if something happened like we needed milk and eggs and I was unable to get that critical message through. She may have to drive all the way home and then go to the store.
How 1970s of me.
Ah alas--here’s to progress, my brothers--we may never rest again.
Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at email@example.com.