Thoughtful Thursday: Ring Ring

January 20, 2011

Thoughtful ThursdayWhere do your thoughts turn when the phone rings in the middle of the night?

In the wee hours today the phone rang — not too wee, but wee enough to be too early for a normal phone call. As DH ran to grab the phone, he said, “This can’t be good.”

My first thought: Our unreliable babysitter is calling to cancel. Except that she would call my cell not the house phone, and she would text instead of calling.

My second thought was the same as DH’s first, that an elderly relative was having a health issue — which is what it turned out to be. Not catastrophic, but not nothing. 911 involved. Should be back to normal soon.

It also reminds me of a time when Burrito and Tamale were a couple months old and DH’s mother was staying with us to “help.” Because of a mixup on their end, the oil company had missed a delivery of heating oil, and we ran out of fuel. The heat shut off in the middle of the night, and I woke up because it had started to get cold inside the house. We called the oil company for an emergency delivery. They called back when the technician was on his way. When DH’s mother heard the phone ring at 4 a.m., she freaked out, immediately assuming that someone was calling to say that her (very very old, but healthy) mother had died. She didn’t sleep the rest of the night because she’d gotten so riled up.

When a loved one is dealing with a specific life-threatening condition, of course a call about them becomes the most likely explanation. But when everyone is doing fine, I tend not to jump to conclusions. After the call is finished, I sleep just fine.

Where do your thoughts turn when the phone rings in the middle of the night?

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14 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Ring Ring”

  1. N Says:

    That one’s hard for me. I’ve never been great with the phone, and it ringing makes me nervous, even when there’s no reason. middle of the night calls were even worse. And then my brother died, and my mom called to tell me in the middle of the night. Around 3am. I hadn’t answered the first two times, so there was lots of late-night phone ringing. It was totally and completely unexpected. And now, well. Let’s just say that I love having my iPhone because I almost never use it as a phone. And the moral of the story is that middle of the night phone calls will probably always make me panic.

  2. Michele Says:

    Funny enough, I think of Peter’s lab. In his old position, he was the call-in-the-middle-of-the-night guy. It never failed that a freezer broke or an experiment went bonkers and he got the call from security. Fun times.

    I always worry about family too… A midnight call… It cant be good…

  3. Kristin Says:

    Vic works in emergency services (at a 911 center specifically) so my first thought is “Shit, it’s work again.”

  4. Elana Kahn Says:

    I would have no idea if my phone rang in the middle of the night. I leave the cell phone in another room either off or on silent, and no one calls us on our landline (it’s used for our alarm system and nothing else). So if the landline were to ring, not only wouldn’t we hear it (because the phone is in the office on the other side of the house), but we’d know it was a telemarketer anyway. 🙂

  5. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    Middle of the night calls remind me of the 4a call that Benjamin needed a spinal tap and would be staying in the NICU and not coming home with us as planned. Before kids, they were Air Force related. Now they’re because something has happened to an elderly relative though those tend to come early (7a-ish) or late (11p-ish) instead of the middle of the night.

  6. a Says:

    Strangely, I’m kind of having the opposite problem. I turn my cell phone off most nights (or else the battery dies), and I fear I will miss the call informing me that someone died. Of course, my mom is 72 and I have 2 aunts and my husband’s grandmother who are even older. So the possibility of death is sort of hanging over my head.

    Also, since I am a serious advocate of polite telephone hours (not before 8 am, not after 10 pm), no one really calls me in the middle of night. My husband is the only one who does that, and he has his own ring tone…

  7. Ana Says:

    I think the same as you, my heart jumps in my throat if I hear the ring in the middle of the night. In fact, I am so unused to people calling me (instead of texting, email) that phone calls always catch me by surprise.

  8. Genevieve Says:

    Okay, who is drunk dialing me? Then I drag ass to see who it is. And usually, it’s a drunk dial. I worry more about unexpected calls from family at odd times (very rarely middle of the night).

  9. strongblonde Says:

    i ALWAYS get nervous about calls that come in after 10pm. people know not to call us then. call at 7am? okay. we’re up. not so sure at 10. at any rate, there was a period of time where my strange aunt was calling at all hours of the night (after 1am) to ask me questions. mostly medical related, but nothing that couldn’t have waited. now i always worry it’s her. or MIL. i definitely don’t want to answer when either of them call!!!


  10. I’m glad your relative is going to be OK.

    Because it would be so odd, I would immediately think that it was bad news. Urgent, to me, equals bad.

    But if I found out it wasn’t, I would easily be able to go back to sleep.

    Regarding your MIL, I wonder why some people are wired for drama. It’s like the adrenals look for chances to squirt.


  11. If the phone rings in the middle of the night, I immediately think it’s bad news. I still remember a long time ago, the phone rang in the middle of the night, it took a long time before my parents answered it… it was my uncle, to tell them my cousin had suddenly passed away. Since that call I’ve had nighttime calls that were not serious or urgent at all (from a student after all night partying, calling me about recording logistics of their orchestra’s concert the week after…), but my initial feeling for a call at that time of day/night is not good. And usually that feeling is confirmed by the caller.

  12. WiseGuy Says:

    Well, my landline number was not a public knowledge…not for a long time. And then my father managed to share it. And now, when I get a ring on it on an ungodly hour, my first thought is that my aunt/another relative is calling me on some pesky thing which could have waited well for the next morning.

    Plus, we have no extensions on the home phone. The biggest issue with attending the calls is – ‘Who will get up and receive the call?’.

  13. jill Says:

    So late with this – sorry :/

    When the phone rings in the middle of the night, it’s work. My husband and I both have jobs that require 24 hour, week-long, on-call shifts. It’s almost always his phone that rings in the middle of the night because he’s the manager of his dept and I’m not in my dept.

    Weirdly though, I was just talking about something similar with my sister. We both don’t talk to our mom often – mom isn’t really a phone person so it’s just the way of things. Everytime she calls us, no matter the time of day, we think someone has died.

  14. Cat Says:

    I used to schedule interviews and would give the candidates my personal number to call in an emergency so I have gotten several calls because of that, though they were all travel related emergencies, not health related. (There was one particularly memorable one at 1am which prompted a “do not hire” recommendation from me before she’d even gotten to breakfast.) When my sister was serving in Iraq I lived in fear of the phone ringing, day or night, with bad news about her while simultaneously hoping it would ring with her on the other end.

    Since it’s no longer either of those things, I sleep so deeply that my only thought is wondering what the hell is ringing and I usually reach for the snooze button before the phone. If there was a health issue to be concerned about, I would jump straight to that conclusion, though, even out of a dead sleep.


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