You know what’s fun?
When you move, and the phone company gives you a recycled phone number. But instead of giving you any old recycled number, they give you the number of a toy store that went out of business.
What’s even more amusing when you have a phone number that used to be a toy store? The holidays! Ho freaking Ho. Don’t forget the bottle of rum now.
(Yeah, no, this blog really is a work of non-fiction, because, honest to God, I could not make this shit up if I tried. Really.)
Usually around Thanksgiving, the desperate toy seekers start to come out to play. And even though this is my fourth holiday season in this house, the calls still persist. And, I have to tell you, I’m feeling less sympathetic and less inclined to help these callers with every passing year. I mean, if you don’t know the joint went out of biz four years later, clearly you weren’t their most loyal patron.
And frankly? Maybe if you had been more loyal, the damn store wouldn’t BE out of business, and I could go back to taking my very, very, VERY important personal calls. (The constant interruptions when I’m trying to discuss with my girlfriends WHY Tiger cheated —and WHAT his wife should do to him— are getting tres annoying.)
The first year? I should have been on Kringle’s payroll (they still had a shop the next town over), or been honored by the local Chamber of Commerce or something. There were tons of calls and this is how it would go down:
“Yeah hi, is this Kringle’s Toy Shop?”
“Um, no, I’m sorry it isn’t. They went out of business recently. Their other location is still open. I’d try them. Here’s their phone number.”
“Oh thank you so much!”
“No problem. Have a nice holiday.”
Year two, I was still on my A game. My old jobs in customer service and sales were still an asset. I thought evil thoughts, but did not voice them in keeping with the spirit of the season.
“Is this….Kringle’s Toy Shop?” What part of HELLO led you to believe that?
“No, sorry, no. I have their old phone number. Yeah. Gotta love that phone company! Viva Verizon. NOT!”
“HA HA. You must get a lot of calls. I’m sorry to bother you.” You should be. I’m right in the middle of finding out which condo the twentysomething bachelor in Chicago is going to pick on House Hunters! I think he should pick the one with the killer view of the lake, but HE wants to be nearer to the L! If you want to woo the ladies, killer, go with the view and hoof your ass to the train, you dumbass! Have fun being single forever, putz!
I know the people inside the tv can’t hear me, but I must let my voice be heard! (It’s my family room and I’ll shout if I want to!)
“No problem. They still have their other store. Try them.” And look up the damn number yourself. I ain’t on the clock!
Year three. Now, I’m beginning to screen my calls if I don’t recognize the name and number. (I’m thinking, HELLO, the least Verizon could have done is throw in some free freaking caller ID to help a sister out. I despise them, so I switch to Comcast, partly out of spite. Too late to change my number now, as all my peeps have it. Sigh. I don’t want to have to call like 10 or 15 people to change it!)
Now, you’d think that if a would be Kringle’s shopper got my voicemail, which essentially is a woman’s voice stating simply, “Hi, you’ve reached 555-5555*, we can’t take your call so please leave a message at the beep,” that yahoos would realize, game over, this ain’t no toy shop. (*Come on now, you don’t think I’m actually going to print my real phone number, DO you? Like I need more people calling here to yank my chain asking if I have toys!)
But, you would be wrong. (People really are scary stupid. I’m not trying to be all uppity as I’m no master of quantum physics, but really? Connect the freaking dots people. Toy store? Gone.) See, when I decided to start screening my calls, I would get voice mails like, “Hi, do you have the jumping monkey? It jumps? Call me.”
But my all time favorite? The granny.
“Hi, um, my name is Gertrude Granmama and I’m looking for some dolls for my granddaughters. I don’t know what they’re called but they’re very realistic looking—the hair and oh! The eyes move and they smile. I thought maybe you—you know, because you’re a small toy shop might have something nice like this instead of, oh, I don’t know, Wallllll-mart or Toys-R, um, Toys-R-Us or one of those, you know, boxy stores. Well, if you could just put me on your list, and please call me back when you get this message, that would be great. Ok, all righty then, this is my number….555-GRANNY. Call me back. Bye. Oh and I can send you a deposit. Bye! I look forward to hearing from you!” (Offering to send money! Oh no! No wonder why seniors get scammed!)
Anyway, what I really wanted to do, was tell the golden girl those dolls sounded so super creepy that really, she should go to plan B and spare her poor granddaughters. EEEHH. But hey, if she wanted to spend her pension on bad toys, I decided it just wasn’t my biz. I wanted to ignore the message, but I just felt too awful envisioning this nice little old lady sitting around doing her crossword or whatever, thinking she was on the creepy doll waitlist, waiting for Kringle’s to call back.
So, out of a sense of some kind of obligation I felt responsible, and I called her back. But, I got her voice mail, so I leave a nice message stating I received her message, but that unfortunately, I’m just a random, yada yada, the toy store is gone, try the other location, good luck to you, yada yada, just didn’t want you to be waiting for a call back. Happy holidays, bye bye!”
So, I’m upstairs later that night and the phone rings, and I hear my husband, “Oh, it’s no problem at all. Honestly. Yes, oh yes, heh heh, yes, she is a great girl. Mm hmm. Oh two granddaughters? Oh that’s great. Good for you! Yes, well she just felt badly that you might be waiting to hear back about the doll. Oh you too, oh yes, thank you, bye. You too now. Okay, yes, I’ll tell her. Bye bye.”
He runs up breathless, laughing.
“Hey, that was granny calling back to say she got your message,”
“Yeah, I gathered. What’s so funny? You’re mean laughing at granny!”
“Well, she told me my wife was so lovely to call and tell her we weren’t Kringle’s,” he choked.
“WHAT IS FUNNY ABOUT THAT? I AM LOVELY!! I AM!”
“No, no no! I’m telling you, Granny…is…wasted! Grandma totally sounds like she’s on the sauce tonight. Seriously. Granny just drunk dialed us—she’s totally hitting the vodka gimlets or something!”
“MA HA HA HA. MA HA HA HA! I love it! Good for granny! Well she gets a pass for calling an out of business toy store cuz she’s hammered! The other fools are just young and dumb!”
Seriously, how do you not love that granny? She rocks.
There was the younger sounding granny in Florida who I called back, who when I explained the sitch, dryly said, “Oh! Sucks to be you! You’re gonna have a fun Christmas!”
She sounded so fun I was tempted to see if she had room for me down in the old beach condo. I really could have used a break after the busy holiday season!
And now, my friends, we’re onto Season Four. The other Kringle’s location is no longer—it’s kaput (after all my referrals no less! I did everything I could, really.) (I’m thinking about calling that number to see if I get some poor sap like me who answers!)
I’ve gotten a few calls this year already. I’ve contemplated—as I’ve toiled for four seasons with nothing to show for my efforts—telling people where to mail their deposits! But I decided instead, this is how the next call I get is going to go:
“Is this Kringle’s Toy Shop?”
“Why yes it is! I just want to let you know we’ve moved to the basement of 98 Smartass Street*. We specialize in gently used toys. Please come see our vast selection. Our prices are very competitive! Please, please, come on down!” *You want my real address? Not unless you’re coming to pay me for some toys, chump!
See, I’ve been wanting to purge a bunch of the kids’ toys anyway. This just might be my chance to save a trip to the transfer station AND make some scratch for the holidays!