Thursday, September 6, 2007

I Need To Change My Phone Number

Last night, we're sitting there after dinner watching TV, when it happens.

Out of the blue.


Hubster answers the infernal thing.

I hear him say hello, and then he says, "May I ask who's calling?", followed by, "Just a minute, please.". (I'm telling you, the man is more polite than I ever was as a secretary.) Since it's after 9:00 p.m. and I'm not expecting any calls, I immediately think that someone has died.

He hands me the phone and shrugs. I give him the eye (you ladies know which one), take the phone, and tentatively say, "Hello?"

A frantic female voice begins babbling on the other end, and all I catch is, "It's a ring!".


It's one of my students, and they've fucked it up again.

I get the caller to calm down, find out who it is (I still don't know who it is even after they tell me their name - I'm horrible at remembering names), and then get them to slow WAY down and explain the problem to me. It's a common problem, as it turns out. They've not followed the cable of the needle around and knitted with the wrong needle, thereby knitting the sock onto the wrong one. So now they have a ring firmly fastened by the two socks and don't know how to fix it.

I explain to her how to get a spare needle, transfer the stitches on it, and get the thing straightened out. I make her do it while I'm on the phone. I don't want her calling back in ten minutes with the same problem. But trouble is still lurking. She has taken off the wrong set of stitches and still has a circle instead of the needles falling free.

I explain again what to do, she does it, and now she has a ring with stitches on two spare needles. I sigh. I take a deep breath. I light a smoke. And then I tell her how to straighten this mess out and patiently wait while she does it.

Finally. The problem is solved, she thanks me from the bottom of her heart, and we hang up. I meander back to the Monster, settle myself in, and pick up my Monkey socks. I'm feeling a little sleepy, so I want to get as much done as I can.


I look at Hubster, he looks at me, shrugs, and picks up the damned torture instrument.

He goes through the same opening questions, hands the phone to me, and shrugs again.

I say, "Hello?" and get a different female voice jabbering away at the speed of light, telling me that she has dropped stitches three rows back in the gusset increase section, has ladders running like a cockroach across a tenement floor, and has she ruined the socks, and what should she do, and the yarn cost her a small fortune because she used buffalo, and I didn't cover this particular eventuality in class, and... and... and...

I light another smoke.

I know who this one is. This is the one I told specifically NOT to use buffalo because it's hard to see, has a tendency to full when you rip it back too many times (and she has ripped this poor thing to shreds), and since these are her first pair of socks, she should really use something that's a lighter color and more tightly spun. I ask her how far away from the lifeline the ladders are.

"What's a lifeline?", she asks.

I drop my ciggie on my boob and frantically try to put out the fire while balancing the phone on my shoulder.

"Uh... you didn't understand what a lifeline was when I explained them in class?", I ask.

"What's a lifeline?", she repeats.

I relight the ciggie that I had just smashed out against my pendulous boob. I inhale deeply. I let the smoke barrel out my nostrils. Then I choose my words carefully, because this woman doesn't let you get a word in edgewise, is a know-it-all, and gets angry very easily.

"I explained what a lifeline is in the first class. I told you again what it is during the second class. I refreshed everyone's memory as to what it is during the third class... oh wait... you didn't come to the third class, did you? No matter. I'll explain it again." And I do, and then I ask her if she bothered to put any in.

"You didn't tell me I had to put one in," she says.

Well, that's not true. I told them to put in not one, but two, and where to put them, and why, and this just illustrates my point. So I explain to her that the easiest way to fix this is to put one in after the fact, rip down to it, and then put the live stitches back on the needle. It's far easier than trying to rip back, pick up all the stitches without missing one (this is dark brown buffalo, after all), and it will teach her how to do it. So then she wants to know if sewing thread will work.

I tell her that no, it's not the optimal thing to use because it will cut that $75 a skein buffalo yarn like a hot knife through butter. I ask her if she has crochet thread. Of course she doesn't, because she's a knitter, not a crocheter, and would kitchen twine work?

I tell her no, that it's too thick, and then I ask her a question about her personal hygiene. I ask her if she flosses her teeth.

Now this was probably the wrong question to ask, because then she goes off into a litany about her dental cleanliness, and how she never gets cavities, and... and... and...

I cut her off and tell her the reason I asked is because she can use dental floss. She pauses, yells for me to hold on, drops the phone (ow), and I assume runs to the bathroom to check her dental floss supply.

I light another smoke.

Then all of a sudden, I get a stream of conversation pouring into my ear, and what I finally understand is that she's asking whether mint, cinnamon, or plain is the preferable flavor, followed by waxed or unwaxed, regular or tape, and... and... and...

The woman does indeed have good dental hygiene.

We finally get the problem sorted out, I tell her to put in lifelines from now on (and to get some crochet thread), she thanks me from the bottom of her heart, tells me all about the wool afghan she knitted for her boyfriend's truck but it was the wrong color and she spotted a mistake towards the beginning when she only had two more rows to do and she ripped the whole thing out and she spent hundreds of dollars buying wool for it because she hates acrylic and she loves buffalo and she wonders what it would cost to make one out of that and does buffalo come in blue and... and... and...

I tell her I'm glad her problem is solved, say good-night, and hang up.

I settle back into the Monster, pick up my Monkey socks again, and am just about to knit a stitch when...


You know the opening script. This time, the hysterical woman on the other end wants me to repeat everything I said in the last class. From the top. Slowly, so she can take notes.

I light yet another smoke. No wonder I can't quit.

I finally get her to understand what the class was about, what her homework is, how to do it, and if she has any problems to refer to pages so and so in the book. She thanks me from the bottom of her heart, tells me that my class is the best one she's ever taken, and hangs up.

I wander back into the family room and plop down into the Monster. I dare the phone to ring again. I glare at it and say bad words to it. I pick up my knitting, get the needle into the first stitch, and...

I wake up six hours later.

At least I didn't drop a stitch, although the Monster seems to have eaten a DPN.



Anni said...

You've had me in stitches with that story. I'd unplug the phone from now on or give them a fake number. I think I'd be smoking too if I had students like that.

Donna Lee said...

How good of you to take the calls at night. I guess that's when they all picked up their knitting and figured out they couldn't remember anything you said. And who makes socks out of 75 dollar a skein buffalo?

Pam the Yarn Goddess said...

Well, I'm a night person, so it actually works out better for me (plus, I told them to call at night - but not that late at night). Actually, I have some buffalo I've been saving for socks, and I suppose it isn't any different than cashmere. But it's only good for house socks - it isn't good for everyday use.