Today’s 5:44 AM Phone Call

A drawback of having just one phone for business and personal use.

Early MorningThe phone rang at 5:44 AM.

I was still in bed, but awake and reading. I’d slept great, hitting the sack at about 10:00 the night before and sleeping soundly until about 5:30 — close to eight hours of uninterrupted rest! My “morning routine” starts in bed, reading and sometimes doing a crossword puzzle on my iPad until it starts getting light outside. I was in the reading phase of that routine when the phone rang.

No one likes getting a phone call “in the middle of the night.” Now I know it wasn’t the middle of the night, but it was early enough to make me wonder what was important enough to call someone when they’re likely to be sleeping — obviously an emergency.

The phone said the call was from “Palmdale Area.” I only know one Palmdale, and it’s in California. In the seconds before answering, I consulted the database in my brain, trying to think of who in California would be calling me so damn early. One of my frost clients, maybe?

“Flying M, Maria speaking.” That’s the way I answer the phone when the call is either from a known client or an unknown caller.

The person on the other end seemed mildly surprised that I’d answered. “Is this Maria? Did I get you up?”

“Yes, it’s Maria but no, you didn’t get me up. Who is this?”

“Oh, this is Joe. I’m in Wickenburg right now.”

Joe is the name of the man who was gracious enough to offer me his house for the winter while he went to Arizona. (Well, it isn’t really Joe, but neither was the caller’s name. I’m hiding their identities for privacy sake. The names were the same.) Wickenburg was the town I used to live in in Arizona. Although it didn’t really sound like the Joe I know, I assumed it was him and that he’d come to Wickenburg and needed something from me, a former resident.

Of course, that assumption quickly evaporated as the caller hurried on. “I understand you used to run the FBO here. I emailed you the other day. I need a helicopter here.”

I remembered his email. Like most of the other email I get from people who have contacted me from Flying M Air’s website — where it clearly says I no longer operate in Arizona — I’d deleted his message. My bad.

“I don’t operate in Arizona anymore,” I said, starting to lose my patience. (How much patience do you have at 5:44 AM, less than 10 minutes after you’ve woken up?) “I don’t know of any operator in the area who can help you.”

I was ready to hang up but he wasn’t.

“Well, I need a helicopter here and was hoping you could refer me to someone who has one.”

“I was the only commercial helicopter operator in Wickenburg,” I told him. “I never had enough work to support my business there. I doubt whether anyone else would be stupid enough to start another helicopter charter business in that town.”

“Yeah, but maybe an ag ship? Something like that that I might be able to get my hands on?”

I might have laughed into the phone. “There are no ag ships in that area. There’s no agriculture in Wickenburg.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

I wanted to get off the phone and, at about this point, I started thinking about just hanging up on him. Seriously: I was that annoyed. But I really don’t want to be rude to people.

“You might try one of the operators down in Phoenix,” I told him.

“Yeah, I guess I could do that.” A pause, then: “Hey, did you hurt your foot about six years ago?”

Convinced I hadn’t heard him right, I said, “Excuse me?”

“Did you hurt your foot about five or six years ago?”

“No,” I replied.

“Okay.” Another pause. “Well cherry drying work must be doing pretty good for you up there.”

I couldn’t believe it. This guy called me at a quarter to six in the morning and was trying to have a conversation with me. “It’s fine,” I told him. I sat up in bed. Nature was making its first call of the day. I wanted to be off the phone. “Listen,” I said, “Do you realize that it’s a quarter to six in the morning?”

“Well, I’ve been up for two hours.”

“Maybe you might want to wait until at least eight before calling people?”

“Yeah, but I’m Florida and I run on east coast time. It’s nine o’clock there.”

I thought to myself: Who the hell cares what time zone you operate on? You called someone in Washington. But I said: “I really can’t help you. Sorry.”

“Okay. Goodbye.”

I heard him disconnect before I was able to push the end button.

I guess it’s time to revisit the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone.

10 thoughts on “Today’s 5:44 AM Phone Call

  1. Wow… seriously???? What an oddball conversation at a strange hour. Made for interesting reading.

    I was just reflecting on how many people in this world are so self-centered and don’t even consider others. I know more than my share, that’s for sure. ;-)

    I used to get biz calls at odd times now and then, too, that would wake me up. Now my biz calls go through Google Voice so I don’t have that problem or telemarketers bugging me anymore.

    And yeah, I also have set up Do Not Disturb hours on my cell phone AND my land line, but I do have it set so that my kids can still get through 24/7 on my cell phone.

    • I think that some people call at any time of the day or night expecting the phone to be answered by a machine if the “office is closed.” Unfortunately, my office never closes. :-(

      Do Not Disturb will be configured later today.

  2. I really wish cell carriers/manufacturers would figure out how to make a two-line cell phone. Give me two numbers/lines, identify which line it came in on when it rings, and let me DND/set ringtones per line/etc. I’ll do a “family” plan and bundle the minutes (let’s face it – the usage will stay the same).

    • I use Google Voice on my phone for two effective lines. The Google App even distinguishes which number a call came in on and lets you choose which number to call out on. The best feature (in my mind) is that voicemails to Google are transcribed and available from any web browser.

          • I got Google Voice so I could have a “local” phone number in Washington. Then I set it up to always forward to my phone. Trouble is, it doesn’t always forward. Sometimes it goes to Google Voice voicemail, which then transcribes the message (usually incorrectly) and emails it to me. That’s not always convenient. So when I say I don’t “trust” it, I mean I don’t trust it to work the way I expect (or want) it to.

  3. If you keep getting calls like that from AZ, you might want to set up an arrangement with one of the PHX operators to take those flights. Either for a small finders fee, or just a promise of reciprocal referral for work in your area. That way your can just give them the number of XYZ helicopters or whatever and be done with it. Let the other guy waste his time arguing with the dreamers and oddballs, and get back to something productive instead.

  4. Hi Maria, I found your blog while doing a search on Groupon reviews, that was a most excellent read, thanks for taking the time to post that.
    I too have a service business, boat towing, like AAA but for recreational boaters.
    I frequently get calls at all hours from people wanting a tow, but for their car. Apparently they cannot comprehend the word “marine”, when its next to the word “towing”. One woman called me last week at 545 in the morning complaining about a bridge that was open and she was late for work, like I could do something about that
    I guess I shouldn’t complain that my web presence is doing too good of a job.
    Thanks for the entertaining writing.

What do you think?