When you you buy a new computer, there is a 24 hour hotline to assist you when your machine malfunctions. After a very stressful morning out with my two young children, I wondered what it would be like if such a hotline existed for parents. The following dialogue is the result of that train of thought.
Please note that the following is a work of fiction. No actual children or ceiling fans were harmed during the conceptualization, writing, or proofreading of this story.
A phone rings…….
Operator : “Good afternoon, Toddler Helpline. How may I help you?”.
Parent : “Hello, I’m calling about my toddler unit. I have reason to believe that it’s malfunctioning.”
“Could you please state the nature of the problem?”
“State the nature of the problem? Okay, you asked for it – my toddler is, as we speak, tied to the ceiling fan!”
“Okay sir, please calm down – you don’t need to shout. Now, I’m going to need two pieces of information to assist you fully. Number one – do you have the boy or the girl unit?”
“A boy unit – why?”
“Okay, I see. Number two – is your boy toddler unit just tied to the ceiling fan, or is he actually fooling with the wiring? Oh yes, and one other minor detail – is the ceiling fan turned on?”
“No, he is not rewiring it, the ceiling fan is not turned on, and he is actually tied to the fan! Why does any of this matter? He is tied to the friggin’ ceiling fan, neither my wife nor I put him there, he is an only unit, and the dog lacks the know-how to do the job. Obviously, this unit is malfunctioning!”
“Listen, sir – I am really sorry, but if you have a boy unit, the ceiling fan is off, and the wiring is intact, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with your unit – it is functioning up to specs! Aren’t these boy models clever?”
“No, you listen, lady – I’ve spent a pile of money on this model, and you’ve been as helpful as the instructions on a toothpick box! I want to speak to someone in technical support!”
“I’m sorry, sir, but our entire technical support staff is on an assertiveness training retreat at the Marquis de Sade Institute in Death Valley.”
“Dammit – If you can’t help me, then I want to order an instruction manual!”
“Sorry, but I just can’t do that. If you were stupid enough to order the toddler unit, then the instruction manual would be far too difficult for you to comprehend.”
“ Darnit to hell! Just tell me where the flippin’ off switch is! You can do that, can’t you?”
“Sorry, sir – no can do. Only product development knows where that is, and they’re not telling.”
“Okay, I want to send it back for a refund – pronto!”
“I am truly sorry, sir, but all units are custom-made and totally non-refundable.”
“Oh, c’mon, help a guy out! Can’t I at least exchange it for another model?”
“No, I’m sorry to inform you that you can’t, but you wouldn’t want to anyway. The girl models are just as much trouble, are more expensive to maintain, and the whining – well, let’s just say you got off easy with the boy model. You can order a new girl unit if you so desire, but I am afraid your boy model is a keeper.”
“Great, just great – now what am I supposed to do?”
“Well, this is just a suggestion, mind you, but if I were you, I would get your toddler off the ceiling fan and then call the doctor and make an appointment – for yourself. You sound stressed – stress can kill.”
“Yeah, if the diabolical little troll beast doesn’t do it to me first! Geez – thanks a bundle, Lady – for nothing!”
I’m so glad I could be of assistance to you today. By the way, due to recent budget cutbacks beyond my personal control, the Toddler Helpline is required to charge you $4.99 per minute for this call. Have a nice day, and thank you for calling the Toddler Helpline.”
The scene closes with the parent dropping the phone and clutching his chest in pain, to the sound of a toddler squealing “WHEEEEEEEEE!” as the fan slowly turns around and around and around…………