Scary Phone Call

Mark and I have an ongoing argument. He works on a 24-hour operation, so no matter what time of day or night, weekday or weekend, someone is on the job. When someone calls in sick, one of the crew makes phone calls to the guys that aren’t on shift at the time to find someone to cover the absence.

These calls have come before midnight, just as I’ve fallen into a deep sleep. They’ve come after midnight, long before my alarm clock is set to go off. And it seems as if I’M the one who always wakes to the phone ringing and runs in a panic to answer while he sleeps on blissfully. I value my sleep and I do not appreciate being dragged from a happy slumber just so that he can go work more than he already does.

The argument is this. I say he should have these calls placed to his cell phone. He can set the ringer to vibrate and put the cell phone on his night stand where it is less likely to disturb the rest of the household. He says they have to call the house phone. I say that’s just an excuse because he doesn’t actually use his cell phone. It sits in his truck, almost always. If he happens to be in his truck when the cell phone is ringing, he’ll answer it. Otherwise, don’t count on it. I say he’s just afraid he’ll miss out on overtime if he reroutes the calls to his cell phone because he’ll never remember to take it from his truck at night. I would probably still awaken if he got a call to his cell phone at night, but at least it wouldn’t be so jarring as a phone ringing loudly in the middle of the night.

So far I’m losing the argument. I turned the ringer volume down on both of the house phones in an effort to prove my point. I figured he might miss a few phone calls and be convinced that there’s another way to do this. So far, this has only served to make it more difficult for everyone in the house to hear a phone ringing, day or night. And when the phone rang early this morning at 2:30 a.m., and when I was (of course) the only one to be jarred from a sound sleep to answer it, I was mad.

Except it wasn’t one of Mark’s coworkers calling to ask him to come in to work. It was the thing I fear most whenever the phone rings in the middle of the night. It was my dad, asking me to come take my mom to the emergency room. My anger quickly dissipated and turned to fear. Dad said mom was having severe stomach pains and had asked to go to the hospital.

If Mom was asking to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, I knew it was bad. My mom has several health problems and I thought I knew what was going on, so I wasn’t completely panicked. She has a condition that causes very severe reflux and I assumed it was just a really bad case. I quickly dressed and drove to my parents’ house to pick them up. The hospital is only about ten minutes away, so we took off into the frigid night and were there in no time.

Thankfully, it was a slow night in the ER and the staff was extremely attentive to Mom. She had some wonderful nurses who took good care of her and we eventually found out that Mom has what they think is the start of a small bowel obstruction. She was informed of her initial treatment plan and was told she was being admitted. Just after 6:00 a.m., Mom was settled in her room and she kicked Dad and me out so we could all get some sleep.

My parents’ planned departure for Arizona this Wednesday will likely be delayed, but that’s okay. I’m glad this happened when they were still home and could call on me to help them. My mom’s health isn’t stellar on any given day and I’m not so sure I’m even comfortable with them going now, unless I feel confident she’ll recover enough to be able to travel and be away for the next three months. Hopefully she’ll be feeling better soon.

47 thoughts on “Scary Phone Call

  1. I don’t own a cell phone. Never have. How do you press those little buttons without hitting two at a time? And how do you avoid a double involuntary click? The minister becomes, well let’s say “unChristian” when they go off during the service. Why don’t people turn them off? Things were just fine when you wrote a letter or went down to the telegraph office by Bud’s barber shop. Plus they always had a poker game going on in the back and you could also take a good pull from the jug if you were so inclined. And they call this progress?


    • A complete stranger in a store asked me to help him dial his phone one day. Apparently he thought my eyes looked young enough to manage the buttons. And I did manage to help him out, but he had the TINIEST keypad I’d ever seen. I suggested he get a phone with bigger buttons.


  2. Those are the kinds of phone calls I hate/loath/fear. Wake you up out of dead sleep, in the middle of the night, and scare the living crap out of you. I had mine the other day when my wife called me just past midnight from her parents house to tell me her car wouldn’t start. Not the kind of wake up call I was looking for. I am glad you were able to hear the phone and help your mom out. I hope she is doing better and is still able to make the trip to Arizona to get out of the cold up there.

    And I know it won’t help you win the argument, but IMHO Mark needs to figure out a better system to field those calls. I would put the phone by the bedside on a charger (some clock radios have a docking station).


      • Ok, I’ll admit that you and RC are right. It is not worth the fight/headaches. Family emergencies trump all concerns. I hope your mom is doing well and this gives you some extra time with them before they head off to Arizona.


  3. I don’t answer the home phone or any phone after 10 PM. I told Gigi years ago that I wasn’t a physician or bail bondsman so why did I ever need to answer the phone at such a late hour.

    I am glad you didn’t have the same rule.


  4. Oh my gosh, that is a sickening feeling to get a call in the night like that. But it is good that it happened here at home when they could call you; you’d have been sick with worry had this happened on the road or after they got to AZ. I hope she’s feeling much better really soon.

    I’ve given you an award; please pop on over to read all about it.



    • Yes, the timing was good if something like this had to happen. I know my parents are capable but I just hate to think of them trying to process things like this all alone.

      An award? I’m excited. Be over soon to check it out!


  5. What a frightening experience that must have been Terri! These kind of phone calls are the worst. I’m so happy your mother is feeling better now.
    Wishing you and your family buckets full of good health.


  6. They call your HOUSE phone at 2:00 in the morning? I would not be cool with that. If work calls me, it’s always on my cell phone. (And if it’s at 2:00 in the morning, something had better be burning to the ground.)

    Very sorry to hear about your mom. At least it wasn’t something extremely serious, and she was able to be treated quickly. Those calls in the middle of the night are always scary, though!


    • Yeah… they call at all hours. Thankfully, those calls are sporadic, but there seemed to be a bunch of them in a short period of time recently. And I am NOT a pleasant person when I am short on sleep! :-)


  7. That is scary. Hope your mom is okay.

    About the phone. Maybe get rid of the home phone. That would make everyone responsible for their own calls. It might not be practical for you all though. We don’t have a home phone any more.

    Keep us posted about your mom and try to get some rest.



  8. I remember those middle of the night/early morning phone calls when my parents and in laws were still around. There were a number of years when we dreaded hearing the phone. The middle of the night calls were never good news. I suppose one of these days my daughters will be in the same position with me!

    Glad your mother was treated quickly and kindly!



    • Yes, I see this kind of thing happening more frequently. Our parents are not getting any younger and the parenting roles are definitely reversing as the years pass. Although, as I told the ER nurse this morning, it’s a fair trade-off. I sure made my mom work hard when she was the one in charge! ;-)


  9. Geesh, I’m glad the hospital could attend to her quickly! Lucky for them, you are a good daughter, and nearby :).

    I hate those phone calls. Who doesn’t? My parents are both getting older and more frail every day and whenever the phone rings at a weird hour – since nobody in this house is on call – I dread answering it!

    On another note, we got rid of our landline about a year and a half ago. The only way for people to reach us is via cell phones. I like it! No house phone? No problem!


    • It sure would be nice NOT to have a land line for all those phone solicitors to call. We see them on the caller ID and just ignore the ringing until voice mail picks up, at which point they hang up without leaving a message!


  10. There has to be a solution for the calls during the night to your husband. He should be able to get the calls from his work without it waking you all the way. You sound like you take on the responsibility for answering the phone and waking him, so why should he be diligent in hearing the phone. You know what they say about letting the same thing happen over and over expecting a different result.

    For me, I only have the landline now. First time to not have a cell phone. Don’t know if I will get one or not. It sounds like you need the opposite at your house, cell phones and no landline.

    Whatever you decide, I hope it is the best answer for both you and your husband.


    • Maybe there’s not a solution. Apparently I’m the light sleeper. He’s not and that’s not going to change. It’s not a conscious choice for either of us. And Rock Chef made a really valid point (below.) Maybe it’s more important to set the argument aside and deal with it as best as possible, especially because having the phone is necessary for situations like the one last night with my parents. :-)


  11. I think you should just give up on the phone battle. Some things just aren’t worth fighting about and if you give ground her I am sure Mark will give ground somewhere else?

    Hope your mom is OK. Sounds like she is in a good place anyway!


    • You’re probably right, RC. I’d hate to miss one of these really important calls because of my pettiness over the phone argument. We keep the land line mainly for our parents’ sake. They have the number memorized and aren’t really up to speed on the whole cell phone thing, much less having to remember a new set of phone numbers.


  12. Oh, Terri, how frightening! I do wish your mom a speedy recovery. My mom had something similar and had to have emergency surgery (fortunately, that turned out successful). I’ll say some prayers that your mom is back on her feet real soon!


  13. Ugh – this is EXACTLY what I fear – those middle-of-the-night calls. I’m the closest one to my grandmother (age 96!) and I’m 2.5 hours out. I feel you on this one. I’m glad they figured out what was up with your mom and I hope she recovers quickly. :-)


  14. With my husband’s dad being very weak, and having been admitted into the hospital more times than we can count, we’re expecting the dreaded middle of the night phone call. I’m not sure there is anything more frightening than waking to a phone call – especially if you have older parents or teenage children.


  15. Any time my phone rings after 11 p.m., I tend to panic a bit until I find out which of my kids it is -especially with my son being a trucker and on the road from Sunday night until Friday night. As to the problems concerning calls for Mark, I think I’d be upset too if I were the one always awakened but sadly, in any employment at a place that operates 24/7/365, those calls are one of the downsides of those type of operations. But boy, the call from your Dad at that hour really has to kick that panic button into overdrive until you got her to the E.R and got aid for her. It was truly a blessing that this happened now -before they had left home and not on the road or so many miles away from family. Hope all goes well with the treatment the doctors recommend for her and that she’s back on her feet as quickly as possible.


  16. Oh wow! I’m so glad it wasn’t more serious. I hate middle of the night phone calls, and not just because they disturb my much-loved sleep. When the phone rings in the dark of the night, it is NEVER good. I got too many calls when I ran TV news departments. The anxiety grew geometrically when our children became teenagers and then young adults. I guess the silver lining is you get a few more days with your ‘rents. Hope the rest of 2012 goes better.

    PS: One of Poolman’s Laws of Child Rearing — “No phone call goes well when it happens late at night and begins, ‘Hello, Mr. Poolman? This is officer Jones. Are you the parent of…?”


  17. Teri, sorry to hear about mom.

    In terms of the phone: I’ve had those jobs that were 24/7 as a plant manager. Got calls at all hrs of the night. I would NEVER have people call on my home line as this would wake wife and kids. I had calls come direct to cell, and I would answer them. Plus I wanted my staff to hear my voice when the phone was answered. Just my opinion, my friend.


  18. I wouldn’t give up the phone argument! That’s ridiculous. If he wants to work the OT, he’ll REMEMBER the phone. Trust me. If he doesn’t want the work, then he’ll leave it in the car. It’s amazing how your behavior can change when given the proper incentive. Happy to hear that you’re mom is doing ok and that it happened before they headed to AZ!!!


  19. Oh so sorry to hear about your mom! I hope everything is much better now.

    As for the phone – I agree with you. If 99% of the time the late phone calls are for Hubby, then he should answer them! Maybe you should get another phone and plug it in as close as possible to his ears…maybe then he will answer it!

    I hate the early morning phone calls too. I got that phone call from my mom when my dad had his stroke last year. It was early in the morning before my mom would ever think about calling me for something normal, and she even waited a few hours before calling because she thought it was too early. But she called my cell phone!


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