"" Writer's Wanderings: The Late Mr. Robbins

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Late Mr. Robbins

Long before the do-not-call list, the privacy manager, the caller ID and the answering machine, I was forced to answer the telephone while making dinner. There was a rule in our home that dinner would be on the table at 6 p.m. and everyone needed to be there at 6 sharp or run the risk of missing dinner. I'm not sure if the rule was more for the kids or for my husband who would allow himself to get sidetracked with one last phone call at work and be late for dinner.

One night the hands of the clock began to slip farther away from the six o'clock hour. The kids were very quiet, relishing the fact that they were on time and Dad was late. (Did I mention this was all before car and cell phones, too?) He hadn't called from work to say he'd be late so I was slowly becoming a bit agitated but that was tempered by a bit of anxiety wondering if there had been an accident.

Then, the phonse rang.

"Mrs. Robbins?"

"Yes," I answered wondering to myself if this were the dreaded phone call from the police or the hospital.

"First of all," the caller continued, "I'd like to extend my condolences to the family of the late Mr. Robbins."

My heart began pumping harder. I grabbed my forehead and turned my back to the kids.

"I'm calling from the XYZ Monument company to see if we can be of help in choosing the perfect headstone for Mr. Robbins."

I laughed. It must have really confused my telemarketer. "Mr. Robbins is only late for dinner," I said, "But you might try back later."

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