Trials of the Telephone

In our household, I’m the one who deals with everything electronic.  I’m  competent with things like a computer, since I used to work as a part of the multimedia team for the Board of Directors of an international  investment bank.  However, there is one great exception to this ability, and that is:

I was waiting for an important call yesterday from the film department of William Morris Endeavor.  The telephone rang and all the lights started flashing.  I started punching the buttons, trying to answer the call.  Nothing worked.  It kept ringing, and I kept hitting everything I could think of, until I wound up hanging up on the person.

I knew they’d call right back, so I immediately phoned the concierge (miraculously, this worked).

His voice was warm and polite, as they always are in nice hotels.  “How may I help you, Ms. Kwok?”

“How do I answer the phone?”

He hesitated for only a fraction of a second, then said with complete seriousness,  “You would pick up the receiver, ma’am.”

Right.  I tried that the next time, and it did wonders.

The day before this, I was in another elegant hotel in Atlanta.  I’d just ordered through room service and hung up.  Or so I thought.  I swear, there was a second when nothing happened, and then the phone called room service again, all by itself.

The lady’s voice was friendly.  “How may I help you again, Ms. Kwok?”

“I’m so sorry, the phone called back by accident.”

There was a moment while she processed this, then she answered smoothly, “No problem, ma’am.”

I tried to disconnect again.  One moment of blessed silence, then it rang room service again.

The lady was a bit more careful this time.  “How may I help —”

I interrupted her.  “I’m so sorry.  It did it again.”

The third time it rang her, she said tentatively, “Ms. Kwok?”

I could hear that although she’d clearly been trained to be nice to all the guests, even the crazy ones, what she really wanted to ask was “Ms. Kwok, are you stalking me?”

When it started to call her for the fourth time, I succeeded in yanking the cord out of the wall.

On a happier note, I’m now in San Francisco and this is the view from my hotel:

And there was a wonderful crowd at the reading at Book Passage yesterday evening, which was co-sponsored by the Asia Society:

Jean Kwok reading at Book Passage

Jean Kwok at Book Passage

Today, I’ll be reading at a luncheon in Sonoma CA with Readers Books, and then this evening at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland.  And don’t be afraid to come because I won’t have to answer the phones there.

Category: National Book Tour | Tags: , , , , , , 4 comments »

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4 Responses to “Trials of the Telephone”

  1. admin

    Elyse, I really hope to meet you in person someday! Maybe the next tour…

  2. admin

    So nice to hear from you, Demaris! Say hi to Kevin for me!

  3. Demaris

    Jean, you crack me up. I love reading this blog. It brings a moment of sanity to my day. I must say that I loved reading Girl in Translation. Thanks to my wonderful husband (Kevin) I got to read it a couple of months ago and it will forever be one of my favorite books. Especially since you signed the galley for me! 🙂 For me it was a way to understand more of the experience he had as young boy growing up in this country. Though I also found parts of Kim’s life that I could also identify with. You had me crying so much on the subway one day that people were starting to stare. Thank you for writing this book and I can’t wait to read the next one.

    BTW, I too have a phone that randomly dials people on it’s own so you are not alone!

  4. Elyse aka Pop Culture Nerd

    Oh, this is hilarious! I can never turn on the TV in hotel rooms, plus I’m scared of the remotes because some news show said they’re covered with, ah, bodily fluids from people watching porn.

    I am jealous that northern CA gets a tour stop but SoCal won’t. Maybe if I leave right now, I can be there by evening. I just won’t take a cargo bike.

    Hope your tour continues to be wonderful, Jean!

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