Last Saturday morning, I had to be someplace for a story while the rest of the family stayed at home doing Saturday things—sleeping late, cleaning out cars, watching TV, eating eggs. On my way home, sometime around 11:30, I called the house to see if anyone had devised a lunch plan. I wondered if they would want me to pick something up or had they decided to go out.
I let the phone ring a few times until it was clear no one was going to answer, and I pushed the red "end call" button on my iPhone and set the phone in the cup holder of my car. I drove along listening to NPR, which at the time of a Saturday morning was playing Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me. It's a fantastic game show that quizzes people on the oddities and details of the week's news headline.
The show airs out of Chicago and features people like Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell, Mo Rocca and Paula Poundstone. Listeners call in to answer questions about the news, and winners can have Carl Kasell record the message on their answering machine. Who wouldn't love a show like that?
If I were to play the show for real, I might not win the recording, especially if I hadn't paid attention to the news the week before, but I do enjoy playing along with the radio.
I talk to myself in the car, and you do, too. Admit it. You don't just yell at the jerk drivers around you who don't use their turn signals or who spit out the window or who have their bass turned up too high and rattle your windows when they're stopped behind you at a red light. You think out loud, you remind yourself of things on your to-do list and you answer questions asked on Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me.
I did that on my way home last Saturday, and I confess I raised my voice when I knew the answers, and the contestant didn't. For some reason, I think that if I shout, the person on the air will hear me and win the prize. I want everyone to win.
Later, in the afternoon after we had all had lunch, Eustacia noticed the message light blinking on the phone and called in to hear the message. She looked puzzled as she was listening to it, and she said that it sounded like a football game or something, and how weird, it sounds like Mom.
I knew immediately what had happened. As I ran toward her in order wrench the phone from her hands, I yelled, "It was a game show!!" Evidently, I only thought I had pushed the "end call" button but really I had recorded my entire participation in Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me as I drove from one end of town to the other.
The quick-thinking Eustacia, recognizing she had struck gold, saved the message and hung up the phone before I could get to it. While the family discussed ways to retrieve the message and post it on Facebook for all the world to hear, I had to sneak around the corner, get to the stupid thing and delete it. I made sure to push the right button this time.
Be honest. Has this ever happened to you?