Time to make the call

Each month I pay for a Telus plan that allows me two hours of long distance calls anywhere in Canada...

Phone plans are stimulating new ideas to connect and track down information.

Each month I pay for a Telus plan that allows me two hours of long distance calls anywhere in Canada.

Yet some months I may use less than 15 minutes of my allotted time. Not that I’m antisocial or rarely speak to anyone by phone. Far from it. Family with more inclusive bundles call me.

Those with bundles frequently call and we can chat for an hour or more, catching up on our families’ doings, everyone’s health, books we’re reading, movies we’ve seen or plan to, TV shows worth recommending.

We all enjoy different interests from restoring furniture to jamming musically with friends, gardening or quilting depending upon the season, travelling, and community volunteering.

Often our conversations fall into reminiscing about our childhoods, comparing our differing memories of routine pastimes such as boardgames we played during stormy months when we were school age.

Once we graduated we dispersed in all directions, married, raised families, and so have years to fill in when we scarcely knew what each was doing beyond a Christmas letter.

Since emailing became available, we frequently exchange short notes, or trade snippets of newspaper articles with a cogent comment.

Some siblings pick up on the article and expound on their thoughts. That works well for staying up-to-date, except for one brother noted in our family for his brief answers.

The  composer of pillow warning labels could have learned a thing or two about brevity from him.

If I ask him a question I must make it open-ended such as an investigative reporter would use, preceding the question with how or why or when, not a question he can answer with a yes or a no or he will do just that.

Following the October election, I emailed him to ask, “Who is your MP now?” He replied, “Same”. He left me to google his area to learn his MP’s name.

My modest Telus plan serves my needs. The plan feature I prize highest is Caller I.D.

With that I can avoid calls from telemarketers, research pollsters, and scammers or any other number I don’t recognize until I can first google its originator.

Yet Telus never tires of trying to upgrade me to a plan that would offer me many more hours each month, hours that I would never use based on my current usage.

My plan also tallies the minutes I’m on a call, a feature both valuable and frustrating.

It’s valuable for clocking the length of welcome calls; frustrating when it shows me minutes I’m wasting holding for some company clerk to return from vacation, check company records and get back to me if I’ve disputed some transaction with them.

One of my 2016 resolutions is to use up more of my prepaid minutes.

I intend to do this by phoning for more details about news articles that leave me with questions. For instance, an article yesterday quoted a goat farmer who says we shouldn’t chip Christmas trees into mulch.

Instead once the trees have been stripped of all tinsel and other decorations we should feed them to goats or offer them to elk.

Wild animal refuges also welcome Christmas trees. He says his goats look upon pine trees as a treat, will strip a tree bare of needles and bark in a day. I take it the goats will leave the larger branches and the main tree trunk. So how does he dispose of those? Saw it up for next winter’s firewood? Or dump the whole tree on crown land when he thinks no one is looking?

An insignificant detail, perhaps, but I have the prepaid minutes to seek the answer.

Claudette Sandecki lives in Thornhill, B.C.