Late Night/Early Morning Phonecalls

by Adam Gobeski

So it turns out I'm not at my most coherent at 3am, at least when it comes to answering the phone.

Shocking, I know.

The thing is, though, that there was a time when I was more functional. I might be groggy, but I knew what was going on and could respond semi-intelligently. Lately, however, this seems to have disappeared.

Let me explain. One of the things I have to do as a part of my job is answer the phone on certain nights in case there's some sort of emergency in the building. Before, I would occasionally get called, I would answer the phone, and I would either talk the person through the solution or come in and fix whatever needed fixing. There might be a few seconds of confusion, but then my brain would take over and I would be more or less awake and alert. (When I wrote that, I accidentally typed "brian" for "brain". My Brian doesn't take over for me when I wake up, but if your name is Brian and you want the job, let me know. I'm sure we can work something out.)

However, at some point my mind decided to stop reactivating so quickly. So now when I get calls, I spend a long time in a state of panic mixed with confusion, with a dab of metaphysical crisis thrown in for good measure. This is less of a problem when people like my fianceé call, because then I'm not expected to be coherent. When work calls, though, it's a different story.

The other night, for instance, I was called at about 5am. It was work.

Why is work calling me? I wondered. Crap, I'm on duty tonight, aren't I? Wait. Am I? What day is it? What day am I on duty? Maybe I am on duty. Am I on duty? All this raced through my head as I answered the phone.

"Hello?" I asked. The phone said something about a bathroom. I wasn't paying close attention because I was still trying to work out if I was on duty. I had a sneaking suspicion that I wasn't, but then why was I being called? Suddenly, through my mental haze the phone asked me a direct question that I could answer. "Who should I call?" it asked.

"Kurt. Call Kurt, he lives there," I answered. This appeared to have been the right answer, as the phone thanked me and hung up.

Of course, then it called back. "Kurt's not answering," it said. However, by this point my brain had actually started working enough to know that other people were going to be at work in 30 minutes, and thus they could take care of the problem. This information was successfully relayed and all was good. This would not have been an answer I would have been able to have come up with during the first phone call though.

Or there was another time where I had been asleep for about two hours when the phone rang. It was my coworker, Tony. Blearily I answered the phone.

"Hello?" I meant to say, but it probably came out more like "Uhoh."

"Hey Adam," Tony said. "You're on duty tonight, right?"

"No," I said crossly, "you're on duty." (I said this because Tony was in fact on duty for dispatching calls out to the proper people - hence why he ws calling me. The fact that he was calling me so therefore he must have known he was on duty for that failed to cross my mind.)

There was a brief pause on the line, and then: "No, I mean are you on duty for MASP?"

Some dim flicker of understanding sputtered in my mind. "Wait," I said cautiously, feeling the situation out, "you mean on duty for...MASP? Like maintenance?"


"Oh, yeah, I am," I said.

"Well, someone's having a problem locking their door."

"...fine, I'll come in."

So I drove in at 2am, but since I live a decent distance away, it was actually about 2:30 when I arrived.

"Hey, someone had a door problem?" I asked the night receptionist.

"Yeah, but I think she went to sleep," the NR replied.

I went and knocked on the door. No answer. I didn't want to knock loudly, because other people were sleeping, so I was sort of half-knocking, not pounding, on the door. Still no answer, so I went back downstairs.

"Yeah," the NR said, "she said they'd been having problems with their door all day, and that wouldn't lock at all."

"So they knew about this all day, but they only decided it was a problem at 2 in the morning, but not so much of a problem that they were willing to lose sleep over it?" I said.

"Yeah, I guess so," the NR said.

"Awesome. If they come back down, have them call my boss," I said. Then I went and wrote a mean email about the incident to my boss.

And then I tried to find five dollars, but all I found was a sleepless night instead.

Page last updated: January 20, 2011

Contact us via Twitter or Facebook