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BY JOHN McLOONE

New Year’s panic attack

It used to be that when the phone would ring, there would be a sense of excitement.

In our family, I’m the only one who still makes phone calls. If I haven’t heard from my kids in a while, I’ll ring them to catch up. I’ve mentioned this before. I don’t like to text. I think text messaging could lead to the end of our civilization as we know it. For thousands of years, humans evolved to the point where we developed languages, and now that has been reduced to someone texting me “K” instead of OK.

And while I prefer phone calls, all these spam robocalls are really giving my choice of personal communication a bad name. I see a phone number light up my screen that looks like it could be a neighbor, and chances are I’m being told for the 10th time this week that open enrollment into the Healthcare Marketplace has reopened.

Those kinds of calls I can do without. And, while I prefer to talk to my kids on the phone, it’s a one-way street. I want to talk to them on the phone pretty much only when I call them. When they call me, something’s amiss. When they want to get a connection with home, they’ll communicate with mom, usually on one of these annoying FaceTime calls. I don’t like these either. They rank right up there with people in public who answer their calls on speakerphone. There’s a time and a place for them. It’s nice to see my kids’ faces, sure, but let’s not do this every day. You moved away. Come home and see me in person more often!

When my phone rings, and I see the phone number of one of my children, it brings on a minor panic attack. They only call The Old Man when something’s wrong.

Saturday afternoon, something was wrong. We had a nice New Year’s visit with most of our family. We had half the kids for Christmas and three-fourths of our gang on New Year’s Eve and Day. It was fun. The crowd hit the road, I settled in for some solitude in my recliner. My peace was interrupted by my cell phone buzzing. It was my oldest daughter, the source my incoming phone call PTSD. In her college years, I was on a first name basis with the manager of the auto repair shop near UW-Milwaukee for a variety of reasons. He was good to me. She had – I hope she’s broken it – a habit of getting too close to curbs when she parked. She was always missing at least one hubcap. Once, she was driving on the freeway, and her wheel came completely off. I’m not kidding. She was able to track it down, and my guy fixed it. It wasn’t actually as bad as it sounded. Another time, I had to track down a notary on a Saturday because her car got towed. Overnight, a street crew put up “no parking” signs on her street, and by 7 a.m., they started towing cars. She found the impound lot on her own but was unable to prove ownership. I had to dig up the title, write a letter and have it officially sealed and faxed. Three hours of waiting later, she had her car back.

With my solitude ruined and panic attack underway, I answered the phone. “Do you miss me already?”

If she did, she missed her purse that was sitting by our front door even more. More importantly she missed her key fob that was inside the purse. With this new-fangled technology, she started her car from in the house. She received no alert that the key wasn’t in the car with her until she stopped in Oshkosh for gas and turned off the vehicle. She got out, and the alarm gave her the rude reminder that the key was 150 miles away. I made a mental note to put these kind of keys on the list of things I dislike and vowed to only drive vehicles where an actual key in the actual ignition are needed to start the process of transportation.

This time, mom sprang into action and made the 300-mile round trip to save the day. I was thankful for that. It was her turn.

January 5, 2022