By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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phonesWhat has five phones, one fax machine, eight thousand feet of cord and wire and one man who doesn’t know what to do with any of it?

That would be my husband’s office, he, the man in question.

Last week, Dave called to me from his home office in our basement.

“Fran, can you come here and help me with this?”

I walked down the cellar stairs. “Sure. What do you need?”

“I’m trying to get this new phone system set up. I need a hand.”

I looked at Dave’s desk and the three shiny new phones he had bravely unpacked. Here we go, I thought.

Dave continued, “Can you unplug this old one, and then plug in the new one? I can’t get under there because of my knee.”

I crawled under the desk, unplugging the old phone. “Now here’s the new cord. Can you plug that in?” Dave asked.

“Wait, I have to untangle the old one first,” I said. “Where in the world is all this wire coming from?” I muttered, struggling to free the first line. “Okay, give me the new line and let me see if I can get this done. All right, it’s in,” I said getting up from the floor. I looked at the desk, where Dave was positioning two phones. “Hold on,” I said, “why are there two phones? I thought you were replacing one.”

“I was,” Dave answered, “but I still need two lines, so I replaced the broken phone and now I’m keeping this other one plugged in here so if I’m on the first one, this second one will jump over from the main line onto the fax line and it’ll ring.”

I know my husband. He’s had a Blackberry for seven years and he still can’t figure out how to stop from muting himself every time he answers his cell.

“But, aren’t you going to get confused about which phone is ringing and what line to answer?”

“Sure I am,” he replied calmly, while I stifled a snort. “Now I need to put this other phone in the back room so I can use it when I need more privacy.”

I stared at him. “You mean that back room? The one that’s ten feet from where you’re sitting now?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Why do you need to put a phone back there? Why can’t you just carry the handset of the one we just set up?”

“Don’t question, just do. I have my reasons,” Dave said.

“Okay,” I sighed. “What’s this?” I asked, picking up what appeared to be a part to the phones that was left sitting on his desk.

“Don’t know,” he answered. “I found it and it looked important so I figured I should hang onto it.”

I shook my head, starting towards the stairs.

“Wait, where are you going?”

“I thought we were finished,” I replied.

“No, now I need you to help me set up the intercom,” Dave said.

I looked around the room. “Intercom? Who are you talking to? You’re the only one down here.”

“No, this is for you so you can talk to me from upstairs without coming down the steps.”

“Are you serious?” I asked, incredulous.

“Absolutely. And since you refuse to make an appointment before you march down here, this will institute a little more office protocol. You can take this phone here and plug it in upstairs where it will be convenient for you when you need to speak to me,” Dave said.

“Okay,” I said stifling another giggle as I headed upstairs, “but I’m going to do my best from now on to not ever speak to you again.”

A short time later, while making dinner, I jumped as I heard a beep from the phone.

“One-Adam-12, one-Adam-12, come in Adam-12,” Dave’s voice crackled over the new intercom.

“You’re kidding me, right?” I asked as I pressed the intercom button.

“Isn’t this awesome?” Dave answered. “Now you can talk to me any time you want!”

“Oh good Lord,” I sighed. Then, pressing the intercom, “Okay, then, dinner’s ready. Come eat if you’re hungry.”

The intercom beeped again. “Coming right up. Over and out.”

I doubt he’ll ever learn how to work the phone system. But at least now, he’ll never be late for dinner.

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