Being the 6th in a miscellany of short posts to mark the 12 days of Christmas
Alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta, echo, foxtrot, golf, hotel, India, Juliet, kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, papa, Quebec, Romeo, sierra, tango, uniform, victor, whiskey, x-ray, Yankee, zulu.
It is the mid-1990s and the retired General, now in just his second month of his second career with our company, puts the phone down and looks at me quizzically. Is that what you wanted? Oh, yes, I assure him, that’s exactly what I wanted. I usher him out of my cubicle with effusive thanks. His slight puzzlement is regrettable but unavoidable collateral damage: the target of my modest campaign is not to confuse my co-workers but to annoy my son.
My then mid-20s son had unwisely mentioned an aspiration to learn the phonetic alphabet, and inspiration struck! Me, not him. Knowing his schedule well enough to avoid the times he might be home, I enlisted my colleagues in my plot: leave messages consisting only of the phonetic alphabet. I dial the number, wait for it to go to voice mail, and hand over the receiver to my co-conspirator without a word. Puzzled but game, they recite the phonetic alphabet—one call per day. Today’s recitation is the third: the first two starred another former military member and an air traffic control guy retired from Transport Canada.
Alone again, I call my son’s voice mail to leave another message without any preamble. Did you know that the average adult has to hear something six times before they remember it? I hang up, and wait for the next move in this little game.
Arriving home that evening, I check for messages: bravo India November golf Oscar! Not angry, but definitely annoyed, my son’s voice greets me, with no preamble: alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta, echo, foxtrot, golf, hotel, India, Juliet, kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, papa, Quebec, Romeo, sierra, tango, uniform, victor, whiskey, x-ray, Yankee, zulu. The message clicks off.
Excellent! A day without play is like a day without sunshine.