“Caller Number One, you’re on the air.”
That’s how I’m answering the phone this year. I used to say things like “Computer Applications, Bill speaking, how may I help you?” or “This is Bill in Comp Apps. Make it a great day.”
But after years of trying to be helpful and polite I shortened the entire thing down to one word:
Sometimes I’d say “Yello, Simpson here.” That was good for a laugh. I got a lot of hang-ups with that one, though. Except for Mr. Burns in Accounting who would inevitably say “Simpson, eh?”
Oh, Simpson, I was calling Bill, I must have dialed the wrong number, better hang up quick!
This year I decided on a Radio Talk Show motif.
Caller Number One was not taken aback.
“What did I win?”
“Why you won the privilege of taking me out to lunch. Larry.”
“How’d you know it was me?” Larry was caught off-guard as usual.
“Caller ID, my friend. Greatest invention since that thing that takes a loaf of bread and cuts it all up. What’s that called, I’ve had a synapse relapse?”
“Yeah, Larry, right on! Sliced bread. How quaint. So, are we on for lunch?”
“I guess. It’s my turn to buy, right?”
“And drive. Don’t forget that, my friend, buy and drive. Meet you at the top in 5.”
Five minutes later we were heading out to the parking lot solving the World’s problems.
“And then I’d merge IBM with Tyson and we’d have chicken-powered computers,” Larry enthused.
Mmmmmmmm, chicken! I thought.
We arrived at Larry’s car and at that moment Larry had that deer-in-the-headlights look as he patted himself down in search of keys.
Before he could offer an excuse, though, I suggested we take my car and soon we were on our way.
Although I heard this “ding ding” alarm bell, I ignored it as is my way.
For example, “Honey, do these shorts make my butt look big?”
DING! DING! DING! DING!
“Well, now that you mention it…”
(Ice Age follows.)
So, we arrived at $u$hi Jin for an exquisite meal of Japanese delicacies and service second to none in Houston and chowed down like raw fish was going out of style. We went on what the movie critics call a “roaring rampage.”
We roared and we rampaged and we got fishy satisfaction.
The conversation was great and not only did we solve the World’s problems but we designed several new philosophical schools to boot. All in all, an event on a Galactic scale.
Accordingly, the bill was astronomical.
“Whoa, Larry, I think you’re going to have to take a second mortgage on this one!” I chuckled.
Larry looked at the bill, calculated the tip and said “No problem. You’ve paid for your share of lunches. Yeah, my daughter may have to drop out of college, but it’s worth it. Great lunch.”
Then, Larry reached into his coat, patted his rear pockets and did a general Hawaii 5-O frisk, looked up and said “Oops.”
“Oops?” I replied, “What oops?”
“Oops like I left my wallet at the office with my car keys. Oops like I have no money. No keys. And, oops.”
You know, I should have stood up at that moment and walked out but the thought that ran through my mind was “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
I pony upped the bill and soon we were on our way back to the office.
“Hey, I owe you one,” Larry chimed as he disappeared down the corridor to his little cubicle amongst the galley slaves.
“De rien,” I replied as I headed to my spacious office in the Executive Wing.
My assistant who had a worried look on her face met me.
“Sir, this just came in from the Continent.”
I looked at the Telex which read “Le singe et sur la branche.”
Uh, oh. This spelled trouble. I went into my office and dialed 2176, my emergency number.
“Larry, how’s your French?”