I had a phonecall today from a number I didn’t recognise. Often I do not answer calls like this, because it could be a wrong number, or someone calling about my recent car accident, even though I have never been in a car accident, recently or not. This time, however, I did answer; perhaps I was feeling particularly bold.
The man who was calling had a strong Eastern European accent, not thick and heavy but slanted, as if he was somehow speaking in italics. I heard my name and picked up enough to realise he was calling from the cleaning company that sends someone to our house on the first Tuesday of every month.
He said something that I didn’t understand, but from his intonation it was clearly a question. I asked him to repeat it and pressed the phone harder to my good ear. I didn’t understand this time, either, but felt embarrassed that his accent was too strong for me, and I didn’t want to make him feel unhappy or unwelcome in this country he must have travelled a long way to reach, possibly leaving his friends and family behind. And his English was perfectly good; I could somehow tell. So I said “Yes, yes, that will be fine.”
There was a pause, and I thought maybe my answer hadn’t made sense, and I had shown him up after all. But he must have just been writing something down, because then he said “Okay then, thank you for your understanding, have a good night.” He hung up before I could say “You too,” and left me wondering what I had understood, why he had thanked me, and whether I would ever find out.
I won’t be publishing as many stories as I have been from now on – partly because I’m busy writing new ones, and partly because I’m submitting more before putting them up here. If you’d like to keep an eye on how that’s going, check my Elsewhere page or follow me on Twitter.
Thank you for your understanding.