Saturday, 17 October 2009

MULTIPLY Wordsmiths Challenge #7: Peggy and Modern Life

Peggy remembered when the first telephone was installed in the family house many years ago. As time went one she grew up and the telephone became just something that everyone had, although they were the first family in the street that had it connected. Everyone that had something to say to others would knock at the door asking if they could possibly used the telephone.

Now things were different. Her children decided to surprise their mother, not a birthday, nor Christmas. There was no real reason, but whether she wanted it or not she was now the proud owner of a mobile, handy, cell phone or whatever. Peggy was not stupid; she even understood the computer and was a member of Facebook. That was also something the children told her to do.

“You know it is really fun mama, you can build a farm, belong to a town and even have a fight with the Mafia or become a vampire.”

Although Peggy found this not absolutely necessary, she did start building a small farm. In the meanwhile it became quite large, and she was a faithful fan of her little plot somewhere in Facebook land. She even had neighbours, people she really only knew by name, but they were neighbours.

Peggy was just not so sure about this new telephone thing. If Dan, her late husband, was still alive, she was sure he would have known exactly what to do.

“Isn’t it expensive to call people Catherine?” Peggy asked her daughter.

“No mum, we have had a card put into it, so you don’t have to register it with the telephone company. Just fill the card up when it is empty with some money. You will soon get the hang of it.”

Catherine gave Peggy a quick course in how to operate the telephone and said that her brother Jeremy would be paying a visit at the week-end and would answer any questions she might have. Catherine left as she had to pick the children up from school and Peggy was left alone with her new toy. Then the worst that could happen, happened. It rang. At first Peggy was sure the music on the radio was too loud, and she never listened to that programme where all the loud modern music was played. She wanted to switch off the radio but was surprised to find that it was not on, although she could still hear the music. She followed the noise and arrived at the new mobile telephone which was laying on the table. She picked it up and dropped it again. Not only did it sound as if a full group of musicians were playing but it was moving. It shook in her hand, real vibrations.

Peggy just did not know what was happening. It seemed that the telephone had a life of its own. She suddenly noticed that the screen was displaying a number and recognised it as belonging to Jeremy.

Peggy was no beginner, she could manage quite well on her own, but she was sure that she had done something wrong and decided to call Jeremy. His phone rang a few times and suddenly she had Sue on the phone, Jeremy’s wife.

“Hello mum, nice to hear from you. Is it ok with Sunday in that case?”

“Sorry Sue” Peggy answered “I don’t quite understand. Is Jeremy there? I saw his name on that new telephone he gave me.”

“That’s right mum, Jeremy is in town, but he said he would call you on the way from his mobile.”

“He did Sue, but I must have done something wrong, that new telephone thing is shaking, so I had to drop it. I am now calling on the normal telephone.”

“Oh, mum, that’s what it does if someone rings. Probably the vibrator is switched on.”

“The what? Sue I am really a bit old for that sort of thing. I really don’t think that at my age I need a vibrator. Tell Jeremy to call me when he is home, but not on that cell phone thing, on the normal telephone.”

“Jeremy called to say he won’t be over at the week-end, but we thought it would be a better idea if you came to Sunday dinner. The kids would love to see you again.”

Sue then continued to explain how to switch the vibrations off. Peggy managed to follow the instructions and hoped that it was now normal. Five minutes later the telephone rang again, but this time it just peeped like a bird and thank goodness did not vibrate. There was a message written on the screen of the telephone with courtesy from the telephone company telling Peggy to send a return SMS as they wanted to know how she was satisfied with her new phone. So while Peggy was looking through the book to see what an SMS was the telephone rang again.

“Hello, hello, hello” said a strange voice with an accent that Peggy did not recognise.

This time she was ready. Catherine had told her to press the green button when someone called. At least the telephone was not shaking this time.

“Hello, who is calling please?”

“This is James, I want to be your friend.”

“Excuse me” answered Peggy “who is calling.”

“James is calling, I want to be your friend.”

“This is strange” she thought, not knowing anyone called James, but her daughter told her you can always see the telephone number on the screen from the person that is calling. Unfortunately Peggy did not recognise the number. She decided she wanted to be no-one’s friend so disconnected after five minutes of “I want to be your friend” and “who are you?”, not without noting the number on paper first of all. She still did not realise that she could trace the numbers on the mobile that had called after cancelling the call; poor Peggy.

Peggy searched in the telephone book and found the first numbers were those belonging to Nigeria. James was in Nigeria and wanted to be her friend. She decided that she would now make an attempt to call Catherine on the phone to ask if she knew anyone in Nigeria. She took the manual and did everything the instructions told her to, but with no result. The telephone then made a strange moan (at least it seemed to be a moan to Peggy) and closed down. It was no longer working.

So what was the next step? Peggy decided to buy some cows and chickens for her Facebook farm and plant some pumpkins. They looked so pretty on the computer.

The week-end soon arrived and Peggy was glad to see Jeremy. She took the mobile thing with her.

“Jeremy, I think I broke it. It doesn’t work any more.”

“What happened mum?” asked Jeremy.

“It was after that man James rang from Nigeria. The telephone went dead. I hope nothing has happened to him, he wanted to be my friend.”

“Mum, you have no money left on your card. I think you paid for James’ call as well as your answer. Looks like you have been tricked.”

“But that never happened with the other telephone.”

“You just have to be careful with that new telephone. If someone calls from a number you don’t recognise then just don’t answer. Cancel it.”

The evening Peggy went home and put her new mobile in the box it was in when she received it from her children. She took a walk up to the attic and put the box next to the box where the video machine was that her departed husband had bought. She remembered sadly back to the days when Dan would record all sorts of films from the television during the night, which they would watch together at a more suitable time. She never really got the hang of that machine and decided that the mobile would be in good company.

She returned to the apartment, went to the computer and bought some crops for the Facebook farm.

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