Confessions of a Rubber Necker

Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I don’t get that many calls. The only time I’m sure the phone will ring is at home when I’m in the bathroom or in church on Sunday right in the middle of the pastor’s sermon where he’s just about to explain a crucial element of sanctification by grace. Brrrrring..Brrrrrring..”Oh, dear lord,” I say to myself while fumbling around my pockets trying to find the phone, Brrrrrrring..Brrrring.. “Where’s the damn off button?”  Who knows how many souls..teetering on the brink of salvation and damnation, have been lost because, at a critical moment of decision, they were distracted by calls coming in to members of the congregation who’d forgotten to shut down their doggone communicators.
Almost as bad.. is forgetting to turn the blasted thing back on. I haven’t been out of the house much this week and my cell has been hooked up to the charger all that time. It wasn’t until this morning I noticed a green light blinking indicating a left message. “But I didn’t hear any calls coming in! Oh, yeah, the ringer has been off since Sunday.”  Now, the two people who left messages must figure I don’t wish to speak to them because I haven’t returned their calls.
I grew up in the days of party lines and busy signals; terms that have all but disappeared today.  I can still see my dear saint of a mother sitting and listening-in on conversations of the lady up the street whom we shared a phone line with. You’d think that rubber necking, as it was called, would be considered a wrongful invasion of privacy..but if it was a sin, 90 percent of the ladies in my home town..and some men too..committed that sin on a regular basis without feeling any remorse or need to seek forgiveness.
I can’t remember the last time I heard a busy signal. Nearly everybody has an answering machine now and I believe they’re built-in to all cell phones so we’re left to record what we have to say and never experience  that old familiar beep, beep, beep, beep that indicates that the call-ee is talking to somebody else. We got caller ID at our house after telemarketers interrupted one too many evening meals. And, even though we signed up to be put on the “no call” list, a few of those buggers still manage to get through from time to time. But, they’re easy to spot by checking the incoming number so we simply don’t pick it up. Unfortunately, we also sometimes don’t answer calls from people we DO know. “Honey, I’m in the middle of this show..let the machine get it and we’ll can call them back later.”
Oh, come on.…don’t tell me you don’t do the same thing! Next, you’ll say your mom never did any party-line rubber-necking either.

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