House Calls (#153)

img_0053Andy’s Chinese-American father is a bored retired civil engineer. He has far too much time on his hands and his only interests are his sons and on-line video poker. He’s also got the patience of a toddler. When Jay wants something, he wants it NOW.

The man called every week after we got married, demanding a grandson. Not a grandchild, mind you. No, Jay wanted a number one son from his number one son. And he wanted it yesterday.

About the time I was ready to tell the misogynist patriarch fuck off, Andy told Jay we were buying a new house.

Jay demanded pictures. I e-mailed the photos I’d already sent to my family.

Jay had a problem downloading them. I emailed them again.  He called and complained that he couldn’t see the pictures. I then emailed those photos in every different permutation known to cyberspace: as attachments, inserted in the email, one picture per email, multiple pictures in each email, single jpeg files, files, and tiff files, PDF files, etc. To no avail. Jay insisted that the pictures would not appear on his screen.

Now, none of the thirty other relatives I sent these pictures to had a problem viewing them (or, alternatively, could not have cared less what our new house looks like and never bothered to download the photos).

Andy spent several hours on the phone with Jay, acting as a patient computer help desk technician. The photos remained elusive. (I suspected the computer’s memory was full — full of porn.) Jay hung up in disgust.

The next morning I sent Jay a link to our very accommodating realtor’s website that contained pictures of the house. That didn’t work either. Jay called again to complain. Alas! We weren’t home. Jay left messages on Andy’s cell phone, pager, and work phone.

We didn’t call back within five minutes, which of course meant that Jay called Andy’s brother Denny (on Denny’s home phone, cell phone, and work phone). Jay instructed Denny to find us and tell us to call Jay about this emergency. Never mind that Denny lived five hundred miles away from us. Dennis obligingly left messages and e-mails everywhere we could possibly be reached. After an eternity passed (i.e., ten whole minutes), Jay’s patience eroded.

Jay called his daughter (who lives 2,000 miles away from us) and told her that she must get in touch with us. Andy and I returned from the escrow company to find a total of twelve messages, pages, and e-mails on all the modern communication devices we have, telling Andy to call home. I was sure someone had died (since it would take an event of this scale to motivate more than two of my family members to call me). I urged Andy to call his father immediately. Andy rolled his eyes and got a beer. He knew better.

Jay called again. I let Andy answer. Big mistake. Andy promised to send his father physical photos the very next day. By priority mail.

Which meant that I was the one standing in line at Costco and the post office the following day. Hours later, the pictures were on their way to Hawaii.

The phone interrupted dinner that evening. It was Jay, of course, wanting to know if I sent the pictures. I assured Jay that I did. He wanted proof. I gritted my teeth, dug up the tracking number, gave it to him, and returned to the dinner table.

“So much for a hot dinner,” I grumbled to Andy.

He patted my hand. “Sorry, honey. But look on the bright side.  At least now he’s not yelling, ‘Where’s my grandson?’ when he calls.”

The comfort was as cold as my food.


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

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

24 thoughts on “House Calls (#153)”

  1. Well, it seems like he has forgotten about the grandson for now…

    To be honest, Jay seems a bit more sane than my mum. She once told me at the family dinner that she went to an asbestos safety/removal course that was ran by the construction industry council. Just so she has the qualifications to write a formal complaint to the environmental department about the asbestos insulation of her neighbour’s garage was falling out…

    1. Really? That seems weird? It seems to me she did her research. 😉 I admire that kind of long term planning.

      Though it seems a smidge excessive when it has to do with a neighbor’s house and not your own.

      1. Well, it was a course designed for builders wanting to advance their career. She is now technically licensed to remove asbestos!!!

        She was quite proud of her achievement (understandably so) that she left the dinner table half-way through a meal to get her safety suit, mask and google out (given out during the lesson) and showed us how to wear them… Parent eh?

  2. I have to agree with Timo, that Jay is like the male version of his MIL 😀 Jay was a civil engineer, and you would think that the man’s got some logic somewhere in his mind… Also it’s not like Jay will be living in the house you and Andy are building permanently. Not too sure what he is too fussed about…

    1. I wasn’t sure, either. I’m telling you, the man is just bored and retired. I wish he would pick up a more innocuous hobby, like spying on the neighbors or yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

  3. I have a theory. I think he saw the pictures the first time you sent an e-mail. But he wanted to test how far his daughter in law would bend 😛

  4. Oh my lord, does this still go on? Do you still have to put up with this!? Did you find a way to stop the phone calls??

    You have patience, Autumn. I don’t know if I could deal, haha,

    1. I did find a way to stop the calls. Mostly. But that’s another post, and it took a long time and a screwdriver. And that’s all I will tell you for now, because…spoilers. 🙂

      Having a sense of humor helps. So does having dated a lot of less-than-worthy guys. I mean, you find a guy you love, who is hot, who can dance, who can cook, who has a good job, who treats you with respect and laughs at your jokes…

      Yeah. I can put up with the patriarch and not lose my shit for many, many years.

  5. The one good thing about having a difficult father-in-law–you can write about it. Being a writer (especially a writer with a humorous bent) means there’s a bright side to almost anything.

  6. The most disheartening thing about the GOP and the Trumpers is that they think climate change is a hoax and want to start the coal powered plants up again. They are low education, low information people; which makes them susceptible to charlatans and con men like Trumpfs. They’re not necessary bad people, just utterly misinformed by right wing hate radio, fox news/breithart.

    The science on climate change is virtually unanimous on the impact humans are contributing to our warming planet. Each new year, another record high global temperature, record low arctic ice sheets:

    This year marks a sad milestone in earth’s climate; reaching 400 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. Not seen since 3 million years ago in earth’s history.

    I voted straight Dem/Independent. In the long term, 10-20 years perhaps, the anti-science GOP will be permanently in the minority. Only with a Democratic super majority can any real meaningful work be done.

    1. Yeah, Luke, it is disheartening. Especially when it wouldn’t take much research to realize the planet is in peril.I wish the government had been more active years ago. Maybe if they had declared War on Climate Change and sold bonds, subsidized white roofs, and sold polar bear flag pins, it wouldn’t be so bad. 🙁

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