“Mr. Ball?” The voice had a curt, official crispness to it. Definitely someone I didn’t know.
“Yes, this is he,” I responded. Talking on a cordless phone attached to a landline suddenly made me feel 20 years younger. Well, except the “Mr. Ball” part.
“The lab results are back and I wanted to let you know your daughter has tested positive for strep throat,” came the curt voice.
“What about my other daughter?” I asked.
“Um…yes, her too.”
This presented a tricky situation. Outside, the blizzard continued to rage, precipitating a statewide travel ban for all of Connecticut. That meant no one was allowed to drive. How would I pick up the girls’ prescriptions? Glancing out my window I could see the black and white snowy form that was my Honda. There was no sight of my driveway. Hmm…I’d better consult with my wife, I thought. Standing up, I padded toward the living room.
“The police are issuing $100 tickets to anyone driving on the road right now,” she informed me, speaking over the top of her iPhone. “So, maybe we ought to call them to see what they think we should do?” Brilliant suggestion, I thought. I imagined the police responding with something like, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your daughters, sir. Yes, there is a travel ban in effect, however I am sure an exception would be made in these circumstances.” Or maybe they might have another suggestion for me! The few dealings with the police in my town we had had so far were quite pleasant. Grabbing my iPhone, I quickly Googled the phone number of our local department, not at all expecting what was about to occur.
Reaching what I assumed was a dispatcher, I politely explained my situation. My girls needed their antibiotics. Did she have any advisement for me? “I can’t help you,” she snapped. “I can’t make that decision for you. Is this an emergency?” she churlishly chiped. Well, no, it’s strep throat I explained. And it’s not like I had called 911, for crying out loud. “Just hold on,” came the woman’s voice. Silence on the line. Somewhat stunned by the abrupt and rude demeanor of the woman, I waited.
In a moment, a male voice came on the line. After briefly explaining my situation, I was told, “It’s up to you. Have a good day.” And he hung up. He hung up?
I quietly laid the phone on my lap, staring straight ahead. Not what I expected. At all. I suppose expectations have their way of playing a role in all upsets. I had clearly expected a different flow to this conversation, and now I was a trifle upset. But was I unreasonable to expect at least some decency from the other end of this call? Doesn’t everyone at least deserve that?