W Bruce Cameron:  Few people are aware of this, but I could easily have been one of the world’s great concert pianists, had I decided to ignore my passion for storytelling and writing humor and instead learned to play the piano. My fingers possess such a nimble dexterity that even as a child, my music teachers would gush that in me they had found one of those special students who, in their words, "could type."

I am sure that by deciding to adopt the qwerty keyboard instead of the sort mastered by the likes of Johannes Brahmas and Ludwig Rollover Beethoven, I have deprived the world of great musical masterpieces, which you would think the Pulitzer Committee would take into consideration once in a while, not that I’m interested in their stupid prize anyway.

With such amazing capability literally at my fingertips, I am, as you would suspect, not only an extremely gifted typist, but also very adroit at using the telephone as well. I’ve never in my life misdialed a number, which is why I can report to you that there is something seriously amiss with our local phone company: Despite my deadly accuracy, I seem to be connected to the wrong party with ever-increasing frequency.

Case in irritating point: The other day I was calling my mechanic, and was startled when instead of his greeting message ( Hello, this is Melvin Walletdrainer. I can’t come to the phone right now because I am busy translating Bruce’s income into some greasy car parts. Leave a message at the tone. ), a woman answered.

"Hello?" She seemed suspicious.

"Hi, is this.is this Melvin’s?"

"Who? What? How did you get this number? You’re not supposed to be calling here, this is an unlisted number!" And with that, she slammed the phone down.

I thought about this for a moment and decided I was dissatisfied with how the conversation had ended. I pushed "redial."


"Yes, Ma’am, I phoned just a minute ago? You see, the thing is, I wasn’t calling YOU. There have been some recent malfunctions-"

"You weren’t calling me?" she interrupted.

I decided to let her rudeness pass. "Right. I wasn’t trying to reach you.

"Twice?" she demanded, her voice rising.

"Well no, the second time I actually meant to call you, because-"

"Do I know you?"

"Well." I gave a modest laugh. "You’ve probably heard of me, because I write a newspaper col-"

"Stop calling me!" she bellowed, hanging up with a loud click.

This struck me as being intolerably uncivil. I connected again.

"Hello?" She sounded suspicious.

"Hi, look, you don’t seem to understand how this technology works, here. See-"

"Just a minute, you can talk to my son," she snarled.

Well, good, someone who would understand what was going on.


"Hi, I-"

"Look here, buddy, you’ve got a lot of nerve harassing my mother."


"I ought to come over there and punch you in the nose, you pervert."


"You better apologize or you’ll be saying you’re sorry."

"I. What? Look, in the first place, you can’t come punch me in the nose, which by the way would be very unwise for your physical health, because you don’t even know where I live."

"Do too. I have caller ID."

"Well, that doesn’t tell you where I live."

"Does too."

I hesitated. Could this be true? Perhaps I’d better calm this guy down. "There’s no need for any of that. I was simply calling your mother to tell her I was connected to her by mistake."

"You mean you called her two times to tell her you dialed the wrong number?"

"Well, yes, except, well, no. You see, I have these nimble fingers-"

"You got to be the stupidest human on the face of the earth. I never heard of anyone so stupid. You’re dumber than a, like-what are those animals that stand there eating grass?"


"No, not cows, you idiot! I know what a cow is."

"Well your mother’s no genius either; she said her number was unlisted, as if-"

"No one calls my mother stupid! I’m on my way over, buddy. What’s your address?"

"Ha!" I barked, slamming down the receiver.

So you can see my complaint: This telephonic malfunction very nearly led to me being forced to put some jerk in the hospital.

I trust that the FCC will look into the matter.

Copyright 2006 W. Bruce Cameron