Call Screener

Ever since a wiring short fricasseed our home phone system, we’ve been tethered to a single, corded phone. One cheap, fake-rotary styled device with a short cord that — when taut — yanks the phone to the floor with a terrific crash. 

We have a voicemail function through the phone company, but we aren’t alerted to any new messages. And we don’t have caller ID.
But we do have something better.
When the phone prattles with its metallic jangling ring, it triggers a thunderous response. The thump of bare feet on hardwood floor. Thump-thump-thump. A pause and then a wary, “hulllllo?”
If you’ve ever dialed a friend or coworker and been greeted with a chirpy child, then you’ve been down this road before. You may get the kid who’s awed by answering the phone — the silent, heavy breather. Or you’re looped into a circuitous conversation. 
“I’m four years old!”
“Oh, that’s nice. Is your mommie home?”
“I’m four years old!” 
In all likelihood if you’re conversing with a pre-schooler, it’s going to be irritating. 
And that’s my goal: irritation. I never answer the home phone. Because those who know me, call my cell. Those who want money call the house. 
Every so often a neighbor or relative will ring the “bat phone,” as we call it. And if Hadley’s met you she’ll probably let you through. 
But if you’re the Fraternal Order of Police, the Race for the Cure or any other fundraising arm, good luck getting past my call screener. She talks on the phone in much the same way that she cuts Martin’s hair: she’ll play along for a while before calling it quits. “Ok, call back later — bye!” she’ll sing out, settling the receiver back in its cradle with a satisfying “click.”