My phone rings several times a day with people seeking information that apparently only I can provide. I am trying to figure out how to bill for my time, which is extremely valuable. For example, I just whiled away the afternoon in Nancy’s basement watching an old movie. Don’t waste my time. I’m a very busy woman.
My phone just rang and it was our printing company. The owner said “We’re printing some stuff for your husband and I need to know how to spell catechism. We can’t find it in the computer.”
I found this extremely odd, as my husband is a veterinarian, not a priest or a religious teacher. But, being the show-off speller I am, I complied. I love to spell and I am very good at it. I would have had a chance at the Scripps/Howard if it had been a big deal in my day. I like to watch “Akeelah and the Bee” because I can totally outspell Akeelah. I kick her butt, but she always gets the big trophy in the end. It’s not fair.
Anyway, I spelled catechism for Kathy several times and she thanked me profusely, then added “we are doing a letterhead for him with that medical emblem, you know the thingy with the snake.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Are you talking about a caduceus?”
“Yeah, that’s it,” she said nochalantly. “The snake thing. Caduceus, catechism, whatever!”
Um, hello……..whatever my ass!!! Two very different things you know. Catechism is a collection of religious teachings and beliefs and caduceus is the staff with the snake wrapped around it! A priest uses one and a doctor the other!
I corrected her spelling and then, on a whim, I asked her if my husband had told her to call me.
“Yeah,” she said. “He didn’t know how to spell it, so he said just call Jen, she’ll know.”
I thanked her nicely and hung up, seething with fury. This is how my husband regards me. To him, I am nothing but a repository of hard to spell words and phone numbers. Remember my trip to Huntsville, when he called me repeatedly to find out Nancy’s phone number? Why dial 411 when he can dial me for free??? And he freely advertises my services without consulting me.
It’s not just him, though. I must get ten calls a week from people asking for someone else’s cell phone number or home telephone number. Ok, fine, so I do remember all those numbers. I know all my children’s social security numbers too. I can’t balance my checkbook, but I can remember how much money is in it. (Besides, if I still have checks, I have money, right?) But why can’t everyone call 411 instead? Why me?
If people have a grammar question, they call me. I am the grammar police. In fact, I would like to start an internet petition to have Fergie banned from using the English language, since she misuses it so blatantly in her music. When Fergie’s latest hit, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” comes on the radio, I patiently instruct my daughter as to its grammatical failings. There is one line in particular which causes me great distress: “I miss you like a child misses their blanket….” WRONG!!! Child means one child, and it is SINGULAR!! The correct possessive would then be his, her or its. Their connotes a group of children missing THEIR blankets! Or a group of teenagers missing their chance to get into college because of their atrocious grammar.
Ok, fine, I admit it, I am a useful person to know, and you can call me with a question, but I am afraid I am going to have to start charging for my services. Here is my price list:
Spell a word……$1.00 per syllable
Phone number……..$3.00 and for an additional $2.00, I’ll connect your call
Grammar question…….$5.00 per minute and remember, some of those grammatical rules can be quite lengthy so make sure you have a real need before you call me.
Synonyms……..$1.00 per synonym
I hope this price list will deter some of you from seeking me out in the future. Bellsouth (the new AT&T!) does not charge you anything to use the yellow pages. Webster’s dictionary is easily accessible, as is the thesaurus. Now I ‘m going back to playing Pogo, so leave me alone!!