Far too many times, I have picked up the phone only to have someone say, "hello" without giving their name. They obviously think that I know them, even though I have no clue as to their identity. Rather than embarrass myself and insult the caller, I continue talking until they will say something that gives me an "aha" moment. This seems to work 99 percent of the time.
The other day, however, the other person was not so helpful. Instead, I labored through the call trying desperately to find the morsel of information. It never came. The man told me about his aunt's arthritis, how the new job was going, and finished with a crescendo of why he was contemplating a divorce. I began to feel like I was eavesdropping on my own telephone. It was too late to say I did not know who the other person was. After all, I was now counseling him through his marriage issues. Suddenly it dawned upon me what to do. I hung up.
The phone rang again. "Bob?" I asked.
"No, it's Tom again. I think we got disconnected." Suddenly I knew that this was my old friend from high school. Everything he said fell into perspective. Both of our egos remained in tact and Bob's marriage is doing great...or was it Tom's? Well someone is doing well somewhere.