A couple of weeks ago, during gymnastics class, I had a conversation with the woman who spends mega-bucks on her teenage daughter’s highlights. And no, we didn’t talk about beauty procedures (good thing, because I don't know all that much about them).
I’m glad I didn’t avoid her, because she’s not as shallow as I’d first thought. For example, she is a part-time reading tutor, and she obviously doesn’t need to do it for the money. We talked for a while about that (I’d love to have a job like that again, when both kids are in school) and then she mentioned that her husband works long hours and travels a lot. Then she proceeded to tell me a story about how he used to be too busy to answer her calls.
(Notice I said “used to be.” We English majors call that “foreshadowing.”)
(Oh, and you have to imagine this story being told by a typical Texas lady-who-lunches with perfectly coiffed hair, manicured nails and a Tiffany silver necklace, with a small, slightly breathy voice, just a tiny bit reminiscent of Minnie Mouse. Somehow that adds to the drama.)
The minivan this lady drove started having transmission problems. She told her husband about it, and he said he’d arrange to have it fixed, but he kept putting it off because he’s so
driven dedicated. Then one morning after she dropped her younger daughter off at school, the minivan gave up the ghost and she ended up in the ditch. As you might expect, she called her husband. He didn’t answer his phone. Some Good Samaritans came along and helped her get the van home. It took a couple of hours, during which she called her husband several more times. He still didn’t return her calls.
At home, she wondered what she should do and decided to call her parents, who live out of state. Her dad looked up the blue book value of the van and told her it wasn’t worth much with a dead transmission. To make a long story short, our heroine remembered that she liked the Nissan Pathfinder that she’d seen on commercials for a local dealership, and she called them. They told her to have her van towed to a gas station next to them, but to get in it and coast into their driveway. If she drove it in, they could get her $1000.00 on the trade-in, as opposed to almost nothing if it was towed in.
So that’s what she did. She negotiated the deal, got a couple of thousand off the asking price, signed the papers, and drove her new car to pick up her daughter from school. Her husband had still not called her back, even though she’d tried him several more times during the process.
At 5:45 he finally called her back. “Honey, what were you calling me about at eight o’clock?” he asked. (Can’t you just hear the false innocence in his voice?)
“Sit down, because it’s going to take a while,” she told him.
He started to get mad that she had bought a brand-new vehicle without his approval, and she said, “Hold it right there. I did what I had to do because you wouldn’t answer my calls. So I’m going to hang up and you’re going to think about what happened today and call me back when you’ve calmed down.”
He called her back an hour later and said, “I’m ready to see the beautiful new car that you’ve picked out for our family.”
Now, she says, when she visits him at work, his coworkers point her out as the woman who makes $35,000 decisions because her husband didn’t take her calls.
Now, she says, he is much better about calling her back.