Midnight Caller (#88)


I’m a light sleeper. This is a great trait for fending off nocturnal predators. As there are no leopards in Los Angeles, waking at the slightest noise is now merely useful for moving a cat before it pukes on your new rug at 3 AM.

And while I’ve saved countless rugs and even kept the house from burning down (true story and future post), being a light sleeper is also a special kind of torture. I rarely get a solid six hours of sleep, which is what doctors and psychologist recommend to avoid going insane. (Dedicated readers of this blog undoubtedly feel much is now explained.) I’ve done earplugs, prescriptions, herbal supplements, hypnosis, acupuncture, psychotherapy, and NyQuil. (A NyQuil/ Ambien cocktail works the best, but you can’t take it indefinitely without serious side effects. I tried, though.)

The best I can do is be proactive. Make sure the cell phones are off. Make sure the windows are closed. Make sure the landline’s ringer is off in the bedroom. Make sure the cats’ food and water bowls are filled, because hungry and thirsty cats think NOTHING of heaving breakable items off of tables and counters to get your attention at 2 AM or 3 AM or any AM ever.

I close the door and sweep the bedroom. I check under the bed. With a flashlight. Because sometimes there’s a cat hiding in the box spring, just waiting to sneak out at 1 AM and use my face as a bolster when they decide their butt must be cleaned.

Then I climb in bed and hope that tonight the neighbors won’t do “Hotel California” karaoke at 2 AM (another true story). My husband snores. I push him over on his side. The snoring stops. And I sleep.


It’s almost midnight. I hear the landline ring, even though the only ringer turned on is in the kitchen on the other side of the house. I open my eyes. Only a few thousand people call on our landline. 1,980 of them are telemarketers and they don’t call this late. 2 are Andy’s parents. The remaining eighteen people are my siblings and parental units.

I sit up. My husband snores on, because my husband can sleep through anything, including a cat horking up a hairball on his face (yes, yet another true story). It’s 3 AM on the East Coast, where most of my family is. None of them would call our landline at this hour unless it was an emergency that couldn’t wait until I turned my cellphone on at 5 AM.

Even Andy’s mother, three hours behind in Hawaii, wouldn’t call this late. Unless I’ve done something to piss her off recently, but we haven’t had contact in a week or two. I think I’m safe.

I can’t read the numbers on the phone and I can’t understand whatever the verbal caller ID is saying to me from several rooms away. I jump out of bed and run over to the phone on Andy’s bedside table.

I hit the talk button, heart racing. “Hello?”

A female voice answers: “May I speak to Andy Wong?”

A surge of relief. I haven’t lost another family member. Then I feel guilt, because maybe Andy has. Automatic manners kick in, even at midnight. “May I ask who is calling, please?” I’m sure this woman is going to tell me it’s the police from Hawaii. There’s been a robbery, a car accident, or a tsunami. I’m betting on tsunami, as that is clearly the logical choice for a midnight call.

“I’m calling from the University of Hawaii and I’m calling select alumni–”

Relief is followed by overwhelming fury. She babbles on about how Andy’s donation would somehow save UH (probably from a tsunami) while I’m inarticulate for a moment. And then I’m not.

“Do you know what fucking time it is?!”

“Uh, yes –” squeaks the telemarketer uncertainly.

“What time is it?”

“It’s not quite 9 PM.”

“In HAWAII. We aren’t in Hawaii.”

“I’m so sorry, we have you down as living in Honolulu–”

“Then why aren’t you dialing an 808 area code?”


“Are you a student at UH?”


“And yet you’ve no concept of area codes? And you took no initiative to find out what time it might be in the 310 area code you just dialed?”

More squeaking. “Um, well, uh.”

“And yet you want us to donate to a University that cannot even teach such basic skills as geography, or a simple internet search? Sounds like a seriously shitty investment.”

“Uh, I just get a list –”

“Even better!” I snarl. “We’re supposed to donate to a college that just churns out automatons who can’t even think for themselves! Well, since you can’t conduct logical thought processes, allow me to do it for you. The 310 area code is in Los Angeles. There’s a three-hour time difference. Did you learn such basic skills as math?”

Silence. Then Little Miss Telemarketer says, “There’s no need to be mean or insulting.”

“Just like there was no need to wake me up out of a sound sleep at midnight to ask for a donation. Is it worse to be sleep deprived or is it worse to be insulted?”

“To be insulted?”

“Do they teach you NOTHING? Sleep-deprivation causes fatal accidents, memory loss, and even psychosis!”

“Psychosis. That’s, um, quite believable.”

“Good. Never call again.” I punch the “off” button viciously and wish in vain for the old landline phones that you can slam down. (New Hampshire still has pay phones AND rotary phones and boy do I wish I had one.)

I stomp back over to my side on the bed. An hour later, I finally fall asleep once more. Four hours later, I get up. Nine hours after that, I ask Andy if he remembers his stupid alma mater calling at midnight.

Andy says, “Is that what that was? I heard you yell, ‘Never call again!’ and assumed it was an ex-boyfriend.”

“I did NOT yell. And if I did yell a teeny, TINY bit, well, at least now they know you aren’t in their time zone anymore and won’t be calling you at midnight.”

Andy laughs at me. “Oh, honey. The last time UH called me at midnight, I told the guy I was in LA and he promised to make a note of it.”

I am incensed. “They’ve done this BEFORE!?”

Andy nods.

“Sonuvabitch! If I’d’ve known that, I wouldn’t have been so polite!”

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “Midnight Caller (#88)”

  1. My husband is like you. Even the occasional Ambien only works for a few hours. Of course he sleeps through NCIS and NCIS-New Orleans (or whatever NCIS is on that night) but come 11, he is wide awake for the night. We have to sleep with the windows closed (even in wonderful weather) because if a fish farts in the pond, it wakes him.

  2. OMG! This is funny but I would have been as pissed as you and would have been as polite as you were. I used to be like Andy and would sleep through anything, even the police right outside my bedroom door (I blogged about that one). But, now, post menopause I wake up throughout the night. Drives me crazy. I toss and turn, throw the covers off, pull the covers up. In the morning I usually ask Bill if I kept him awake. Um, no, he sleeps right through. As an aside – my last name is Filipino so I will get telemarketers and junk mail in Tagalog (or whatever the language is), which I don’t speak or read. Drives me crazy!

  3. Sooo…dos you write this post immediately after the phone call?

    I can just imagine Andy snoring away, blissfully unaware of anyone calling, and you’re writing, well into the wee hours…

    And I sympathize–I’m a light sleeper as well. Sucks.

    1. No, I managed to wait until the next day to vent. I was supposed to be working on Part II of the gift-giving, but I was so ticked I wrote this one instead. I waited to post it until after I finished and posted Part II, though, cuz I am a little OCD about continuity. Also, I figured I’d better cool off and remove the majority of the profanity.

  4. Yeah, you were a bit too polite there… When telemarketers call my house, usually I ignore it and the phone rings for a whole good two minutes – machine operated and if I pick up then only will it “click” and connect to a person trying to sell you educational courses or insurance.

    As for sleep, I am a heavy sleeper. The other night at 2am the fire alarm went off in my building and everyone evacuated except me (there was a real fire in the apartment block adjacent to mine). I heard nothing, slept through it all.

    1. Wow…slept through a fire alarm? I’m the opposite…a very light sleeper. When I used to room with a friend, I would get waken up by him turning the pages of his book (he reads every night before bed). We have separate bedrooms. I also haven’t had 6 hours straight sleep…maybe for many many years.

      1. Yeah, slept through the fire alarm. My brother left the apartment to check it out and I didn’t even hear him. You certainly are a light sleeper, but it sounds like you are used to it. Falling asleep is hard for me. Sometimes it takes me an hour to do that at night.

        1. It takes me an hour on average to fall asleep. Can’t sleep before midnight also. Can’t recall the last time I had 6+ hours of straight sleep. Always tend to wake up 3-5 times per night. I’ve tried earplugs, but I mostly sleep on my sides, so they feel awkward in that position.
          Wish I was a heavy sleeper.

  5. I’m a sound sleeper. My husband woke up at the slightest sound. Since he was so alert, all the better. I could enjoy my sleep, confident he would catch whatever problem showed up in the middle of the night. When my babies were nursing, he would bring them to me during the night, diapers changed and ready to eat.

  6. Andy sounds like my husband. He is a sound sleeper and I end up telling him to turn on his side because he is snoring. And he falls asleep within five seconds. However, I have no problem sleeping.

    I sometimes get those late night calls, especially from one of my friends. She even lived in Taiwan and still has no concept of what time it is on the other side of the world. But, I could never be mad at her, not even at 2 in the morning.

    1. I got those from Australian coworkers and my boss. And of course I wanted to keep my job, so when they’d say, “Did I wake you?” I’d be like, “No, no, of course not I was just having breakfast…”

      At 4 AM.

  7. I almost (ALMOST) feel sorry for the caller…but then I remember my own many run-ins with telemarketers and spammers and any sympathy quickly evaporates.

    Yours is pretty much the only blog I read where I actually click on links to other posts because I love your writing so much. In a weird way, you remind me of me…I’m all about recounting humorous conversations between me and Tara, and that’s kinda your trademark, too. And now I want to read about these other incidents you mention in passing here, like Andy sleeping through cat puke.

    1. Thank you! What a lovely compliment. I’ll have to keep the links up until you’ve read everything.

      Andy sleeping through cat puke, dog puke, trashcans on fire, sick child, trespassers, his parents roaming the house and watching TV during visits, etc. is nothing new. Except for the trashcans and the parents, it never feels extraordinary enough to blog about!

      I always enjoy Tara’s commentary in your posts. Clearly our spouses suffer much for our art. 🙂

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