Thursday, October 12, 2017

Becoming a Reading Buddy

"That's Milwaukee," I interrupted, "I grew up there."

I called the Reading Buddy coordinator on Monday a few weeks back. It was 5:30 before I got around to that and I didn't figure she'd be in. She wasn't. 

I recorded what I determined to be a stupid voice mail, erased it, recorded another equally stupid voice mail, erased it, and repeated this several more times. I finally figured out what was 'stupid' about the messages and how to fix it, but the Voice Mail system ended the call. I figured it believed the caller had no redeeming social value and hung up in disgust, leaving no messages. This was fine with me … no time-line to make another call.

Then, to my complete surprise, "Hi, Walter, nice to actually talk to you. How are you?" greeted me when I phoned again and introduced myself several days later.

"You responded like we're old friends," I said, after telling her I was fine, thanks for asking, "but I don't think you know me from Adam."

"Well, you left a Voice Mail on my phone several days ago. No call back number, just your name. I hoped you'd call again."

I felt a slight chill. I believed all my messages had been stupid, run on, of no use to the listener save to betray to her my uneasiness and inability to utter a coherent paragraph.

"Well, … " I managed.

Believing honesty is the best policy, I continued, "I recorded several stupid messages, thought I deleted each one in turn, and the system ended the call, hanging up in what I can only assume was complete disgust. I'm embarrassed whichever one remained on the system."

 "No worries," she said, using the current vernacular. "How can I help you?"

We talked about reading buddies, my friend ( who lives and volunteers in a county different from mine ) and discovered we have something in common: we're both residents of the same part of the city, about twelve miles removed from my reading buddy's home and the facility in which she works. Without being specific we found we live close to one another.

After more chatty material, she said, "I'll send you information on the program, the volunteer application, and we can go from there. How's that? How would you like to receive it … email, USPS, fax."

Unthinkingly I said, "USPS."

"OK," she said.

"Now I have to be specific and tell you where I live, don't I?" I said. She laughed again, appropriately and appreciatively. "I'm going to like this woman," I thought.

"I like to meet with potential volunteers," she went on. "We could meet near your house on my way to work next week, after you've had a chance to review what I'll send you."

"That works for me," I said. "I'm pretty open."

"You know the ( name not provided ) café?" she asked.

 "On ( intersection not provided )?"

"That's the one; you know where it is?"

Feeling a bit devilish, I said, "No idea." Again, she laughed appreciatively. "Yes, I do," I continued. "Of course. How about 10:00?"

After laughing, she said, "That's perfect."

"More vernacular."

"Let me give you my cell number, just in case. It's 414 … "

"More commonality!" "That's Milwaukee," I interrupted, "I grew up there."

"You did … I spent several years there, met my husband, though he's from here, there. Nice city."

We chatted a little about the city of my birth and marveled at the coincidences that bind us. I hung up looking very forward to meeting at the café the next week.

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