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Voicemails from Grandma

February 19, 2011

How To Leave Perfect Guilt-Inducing Voicemail

This blog started with “phone calls from my Grandmother.” And then eventually, it morphed into a blog about modern manners, etiquette and an advice column of sorts. But even when I shifted focus, I promised more Grandma stories.

I deliver.

This is about a call I received from my paternal grandmother. Grandma and I have always been very close. On average, I called her 2-3 times a week, but ever since she moved to her retirement village, I speak to her a little less. She’s busy now! I can’t get her on the phone, and sometimes a week or two goes by where we don’t talk.

This, as every good guilt-ridden granddaughter knows, is unacceptable. I know this voicemail was coming, but I couldn’t help but crack up when I got it.

Verbatim:

Okay,  its Grandma. I dont call because its a little hard for me, but we havent spoke in a long time and I wish you would call me. Love you and hope everything is well with Frank.

And Eva.

and you.

And I get the same from Marisa. She don’t answer the phone either. All I call is to wish her good luck tomorrow in her new job.

I love you all. But give me a ring.

It’s grandma from sunny Florida!

Bye.

There are so many wonderful things about this voicemail. I mean, this woman is a master. She’s been perfecting the art of telephonic guilt since the days of the “party line.”

How She Does It

1. The cold, guilt opener. That “you know it’s hard for me to call” is a reminder that she is legally blind. Nevermind that she spends the whole day on the phone calling her geriatric posse, and I’ve preprogrammed in every conceivable number.  There’s something about my number that’s just hard to dial, apparently? Anyway, it’s a good start. My grandma is blind and I’ve forced her to do something difficult.

2. She loves me regardless. Of course. And my boyfriend. And my dog. She cares about the important things in my life.  Then throws my own well-being in for good measure.

3. Bitching about family members. This is so beautifully crafted, it’s delicious. Marisa is my sister. First off – grandma is pissed that cell phone doesn’t equal instant access. So, when you don’t pick up your cell phone, it obviously means “ignoring her.” There is no arguing this point. So, the triple-pronged approach here is that

  • She simply can’t help herself from venting about my sister; and
  • She reminds you that even though her ungrateful granddaughters haven’t called her, her family network is wide, and she knows exactly what’s going on in our lives.
  • She knows I’ll have to call and guilt my sister, because … that’s the way it works. She’s waging a war against my sister on two fronts, and has now enlisted my help.

4. She’s adorable. Seriously lady? “This is your grandma from sunny Florida?” Like I don’t know who you are!? She’s too cute.

In short, I have no idea why anyone who is curious about etiquette and life advice would need these instructions. Consider them either a “What not to do for voicemails” or a blueprint for your life as a Jewish grandmother from sunny Florida. Either way, enjoy.

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