This happened roughly a dozen years ago, before I had a smartphone…
The doula I did regular backup for was off in the mountains, camping. She wasn’t far away but wasn’t sure if she’d have cell phone reception at the camp site, so before she left, she made sure her clients had my number and I knew the clients she was on call for. Among other details, she warned me that one of the dads had a thick accent and was hard to understand.
The following conversation happened at approximately 2 am, when my landline rings:
Man with heavy accent (MWHA): Is this Andrea? They told me to call Andrea if I needed help.
Me: Yes, this is Andrea. What’s going on? How can I help?
MWHA: I sent you an email with all of the details for which I need help.
Me: I don’t have my email in front of me. Can you please tell me what’s the situation? (I get up and walk down to my office and grab my notes about backup doula’s clients.)
MWHA: All the details are in the email. It is a matter of urgency.
Me: Yes, that’s why I need you to fill me in on the details.
MWHA: It’s all quite clear in the email. Please check the email immediately.
Me: I don’t have my email in front of me, but I do have my notes from (backup doula) – what is your name?
MWHA: Suraji is my name.
(I cannot find a name anything like this in the notes.)
Me: I can’t find your information in my notes. What is your wife’s name?
Suraji: Why do you need to know my wife’s name?
Me: I am trying to look up your information so I can help you. Is she having contractions?
Suraji: Yes, she is. All the information that you need is in the email. Please just look at the email.
Me: I don’t have my email in front of me, I need you to just tell me what’s happening and who you are. How far apart are her contractions? Has her water broken?
Suraji: I told you that all the relevant information about my wife and her condition are in the email I have sent. Your timely response to my email is what I need.
Me: What is your wife’s name? How is she doing? I need you to just answer my questions right now.
Suraji: That information is all in the email which I have sent to you.
(This goes on for several rounds. Finally I get exasperated.)
Me: Look, it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and I don’t want to turn on my computer to get your email. I need you to just talk to me and tell me what’s going on!
Suraji: It’s the middle of the night there? Most sincere apologies. Our business transaction can wait until the morning hours. Blessed sleep.
He hangs up and it dawns on me that he clearly wasn’t local. Sure enough, when I checked my email in the morning, there was a message from a Nigerian prince who needed to get money out of his country to arrange for medical treatment for his wife….
I guess at least I kept him on an expensive transAtlantic phone call for nearly 20 minutes?
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