A Laugh Might Warm You Up
Since it's too cold to do much with the horses again, I decided to post a story inspired by Callie at The Midwest Horse Blog. She had written about wrong number phone calls and how funny they can sometimes be. That reminded me of many years ago when I was boarding my Russell R. at a small barn with my friend's horse, Dexter Medley.
This was years before cell phones, so to be safe, we decided we needed a phone installed in the tack room. My friend, N., agreed to take on having the bill sent to her house so we called the phone company. This should have been simple, but the phone company insisted that the phone had to be listed in the name of someone who lived on the premises. Since we didn't the only solution was to list it in the name of one of the horses. We chose Dexter and the bill was regularly sent o N's house in his name. When the new phone books came out, sure enough, there was a listing for Medley, Dexter.
That's when the calls started. Vendors would try to sell Mr. Medley wall to wall carpeting and newspaper subscriptions. Sometimes I'd tell them he couldn't come to the phone because he was out to pasture. Once, a salesman insisted he needed to speak to Mr. Medley personally. When I asked why, he told me Mr. Medley had called him and left a message for him to call back. Now I had seen Dexter play with a telephone in the sales barn before he was bought, but our phone was in a locked tack room and he didn't have the combination to the lock--good thing as if he'd opened the door and let Russell in there, it would have been a disaster. I let the salesman dangle for a bit before telling him Dexter was a horse. There was dead silence on the end of the line and then a quick "click" as he hung up. I hope his face was suitably red.
This went on for a while until my friend moved Dexter from the barn and they moved out of state. The phone still worked, but something got messed up with the billing and suddenly, neither one of us was getting charged for the service. I finally called up the phone company. A very relieved customer service rep said, "Oh, thank goodness you called. The bills kept coming back to us and we didn't know whom to contact."
"Well, my friends have moved, but I want to keep the phone," I replied, "So can you simply send the bill to me instead?"
"Well, that won't quite work. We will have to change the listing over to your name since Mr. Medley is no longer there. "
"Does it still need to be in the name of someone who lives here, " I asked. "I don't."
"Oh, yes. Whose name will you be assigning it to?"
"Uhm, well, I guess it will have to be Russell R."
"So that's a Mr. R. Russell, then?"
"Uhm, I suppose so. That would work." I then gave her my address for the billing.
She seemed quite pleased with all of this. "Now there are just a few formalitities. We need authorization from Mr. Medley to do this. I have some papers for him to sign. Do I send them to you?"
I may have coughed, "Well, that's not exactly going to work, you see, Mr. Medley is a horse and he can't write very well."
This time I definitely heard her gag. There was some talking going on in the background. Then she came back on. "I see. Well we need Mr. Russell's signature, then. I take it he's human."
"No, he's a horse too."
Dead silence....and more background talking. And then, "I can do this. You're not going to get me. I know what this is. You're one of the supervisors calling with a problem to see if I can do my job. That's what this is. I'll figure it out. Just hold on."
"No," I assured her patiently, trying hard not to laugh. "I'm serious. This is a real call." I then went on to try to explain how the phone company had insisted the phone be in a resident's name and since the only ones who lived here were horses, that we'd had no other option. As I went on, she must have been relaying the story to her co-workers because I could hear the giggles in the background.
It took some doing, but eventually, Russell had his own phone. I'm not sure how many times he was invited to subscribe to the New York Times, but I was always quite pleased to tell people to look him up in the phone book if they wanted to get in touch with me while I was out riding.
This is one of my fond memories, a tale to cherish--along with the story of how there is a record of a snake bite from my English class somewhere in the school nurse's office.
But that's a story for another day.
Wishing you sunshine.