Off-the-wallBy Bob Spiwak

March 29, 2016. The warmest day of the year so far, a day for outside labor.  The crocuses have emerged from the snow and all morning I have been clearing ice and snow. It’s just after noon, my wife is at the library and I am in a deep-sleep nap. The telephone rings and I manage to get to it on the third ding-a-ling, still rummy from my rude awakening.

I say hello and the voice on the other end says, “Hi, Grandpa.”

It is a male and he sounds as though he’s calling from far away. I ask him who this is, and he chuckles and says, “It’s me, your grandson.” I am not quite awake enough to consider that my grandson never calls. I query with  Who is this,” and the instant response is “Don’t you remember your grandson?”

“This is Frank?” I ask. “Where are you?”

I am coming more awake, expecting him to tell me he is in Winthrop or Twisp, or with his sister in Chelan. Thus I am surprised when he tells me he is in New York, at home.

That makes sense because that is grandson’s residence.

Fully alert now, I ask him, “what’s up?”

“Grandpa, I’ve got something to tell you and I need you to promise me not to make a big deal about this,” the caller says. “Do you promise?”

I answer with something like, “It depends on what you tell me.”

He begins with, “This lady ran a red light and I could not stop in time and – I hit her.” I asked if he was injured, and he told me he had somewhat smashed his nose and there was some blood but was otherwise OK. I asked about the condition of the lady he hit, and he told me, “Er … uh … um, that’s the reason I called you.”

Now I get suspicious. He is going to put the arm on me for some money and he probably earns more in a month than I do in a year. So I ask him, “Are you sure you are my grandson?”

“Grandpa, of course I am.” I notice now that this is not the voice of my grandson (who never calls) and sounds more like a bad audition tape for the part of Tony in West Side Story.”

“I can’t believe you are calling me, Frank. But you do remember my name?”

“Of course I do, Grandpa.”

“Frank,” I query, “what is my middle name?” (Even my grandson who never calls probably does not know my middle name because it is the name of a pencil.) The phony accent does not respond. I casually mention that I think he is a bleeping con man. There is a click and the line is dead.

This is true stuff and pretty close to a verbatim non-versation.

I found it funny after I had hung up but then looked at it seriously and realized how easy it would be for someone who had done the research on a grandpa or grandma who was ill or gullible might fall for the scam.

There’s no moral to this, only a caution to beware of who is calling you and using familiar names or places. And keep handy the name of a grandchild, even one who never calls.

Frank? Are you there?