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