Many people have gatekeepers. For many lawyers, it is a dedicated receptionist, secretary, or paralegal who guards the phone line for unnecessary distractions, thereby freeing us to focus on our work and accomplish our tasks for the day. It’s not that we want to be unavailable. We just need a bit of a buffer to do what we gotta do.
Some people have private-life gatekeepers. The simplest form of this occurs when someone responds to a question with “Man, I’ll need to run this past my wife.” Others go a bit further. I encountered one of these last night.
As with many lawyers, I’m involved with a handful of civic organizations. One is Cub Scouts, where I hold various responsibilities within our local group. During the course of my responsibilities, it is often necessary to make phone calls to parents.
Here’s how the latest call to a parent one went. I began by dialing the cell phone of Bill, a father of one of the Cub Scouts. I know Bill, having spoken to him on numerous occasions. He introduced himself to me as Bill, completed forms as Bill, and his name appears on checks as Bill. He is a very pleasant and jovial fellow.
Female voice (FV): Hello?
Me: Hi, can I speak to Bill?
FV: Sorry, there’s no one named Bill here.
(Always awkward to have dialed the wrong number, but, hey, it happens.)
Me: I must have the wrong number. Sorry about…
FV: Who is this, and who are you calling for?
Me: (Taken slightly aback.) I’m calling for a man named Bill. I’m Eric with Cub Scouts. But since there’s nobody there named Bill…
FV: Hang on a second.
(Very Short Pause)
Male Voice: This is Bill.