Recently, my aging mother received a telephone bill that was significantly higher than it has been in several years and so she, being her feisty self, promptly called the Phone Company and complained.  At the end of her negotiations, she wound up with four calling features, and a bill ten dollars a month less than before.  Yay mom!

At the same time that my mom negotiated this new plan on her phone, she also purchased a new set of cordless phones.  This is where I enter the picture.  Mom was completely unable to set up the new phones because her fingers “wouldn’t work” to plug in the chargers, nor could she transfer the numbers from her old phones into her new ones.  I tried to explain to her that the process to add numbers to a phonebook from Caller ID was pretty seamless, but she asked me to come over and help.

When I arrived, I remarked to her that I was glad she now had Call Answer (which, after years of busy signals we had all been begging her to get) and she asked me why I would think she had Call Answer.  I told her that I had left her a message on her new Call Answer but she insisted she didn’t even know she had it and certainly hadn’t set it up yet.

Hmmm…I thought.  That’s odd.  I was sure I had heard a new message and that the phone had picked up on only one ring.  Maybe not.

So I asked her what features she did have on her phone and she told me she wasn’t sure.  We decided to call the Phone Company and find out.  Sure enough, Call Answer was one of her new features and I asked the gentleman to tell me how to set it up for her.

We hung up and, armed with her temporary passcode, I attempted to set up her Call Answer.

“I’m sorry but you have entered an incorrect password,” the computer said.

I tried again.

“The password you are trying to enter is incorrect,” the computer told me again.

I whispered to mom, “Are you positive you haven’t set up your call answer because I think I remem…”

“NO! I told you I haven’t!  I haven’t TOUCHED it!”  Mom was now getting cross.

“Okay…it’s just that your temporary password, which is your phone number, isn’t working, so I thought maybe you might have changed it to your usual password.”

“I haven’t changed ANYTHING!” Mom insisted.

I tried again, without any luck, and so I decided to call back to the Phone Company to tell them something was wrong.

The gentleman put me on hold to investigate the problem and, once again, I repeated to my mom that I thought I remembered leaving her a message.  I told her that her voice recording had been different, but that, since then, her recording was back to her old answering machine.

My mom was now very exasperated with me and said, “I’m TELLING YOU I HAVEN’T SET UP ANYTHING!  I haven’t changed any passwords!  I haven’t done ANYTHING….The ONLY thing was something that they had that was THEIR voice saying… SOMETHING… and I didn’t want THEIR voice so I did my OWN voice but that is the ONLY thing… and other than that I HAVEN’T changed my password and I haven’t set up ANYTHING.”

AHA!  Crystal clear.  Clear as mud.  Finally.

The man then came back on the phone and I politely informed him that I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, I was sorry, and I would call him back only if I needed to.

I hung up the phone, accessed Call Answer and typed in my mom’s favourite password.  Then I pressed speaker.

The voice ringing through the kitchen said, “You have thirteen messages.”


Mom had watched me type in her code and her jaw dropped.  Then she burst into tears.

Explanation?  Mom set up Call Answer and forgot.  Then she had left her answering machine on, so it was beating Call Answer to the punch when she wasn’t home.  And Call Answer was taking messages whenever she was on the phone.  Apparently people had been telling her for a couple of weeks that they were leaving her messages but she wasn’t getting them.  Now we knew why.

We held one another for several minutes and cried…

This getting older stuff sure isn’t for babies.