Wrong Number

January 13, 2009 | By | Comments (9)

Last night, I got a weird voice-mail message on my cell phone. The operator asked, “Will you accept a collect call from the Correctional Facility in Loxley, Alabama?” Aparently, stupidity is now a jailable offense.

See, the Grump doesn’t take collect telephone calls from anybody. If my phone rang and a voice asked, “You have a collect call from a Mr. J.C. in Heaven. Will you accept the charges?”, my reflex response would be, “Heck, no! That’s long distance!”

And in the Grump’s case, that’s long, long, long, loooooooooooong distance.

I can only imagine the situation the prisoner was in. Maybe he was being held hostage with a gun to his head. The guy holding it says, “This is the deal. You get to make one collect call. If the person you call accepts the charges, I’ll let you go. But if he doesn’t, I’m blowing you away. Now — who you gonna call?”

“Uh, the Grumpy Gardener.”


But maybe the situation wasn’t so dire. Maybe the caller was just a lonely guy searching for a friend. That seems a little strange, seeing as how you’re surrounded by “friends” in jail, but maybe none of them knew anything about how to root gardenia cuttings and he just had to know.

So now the Grump’s feeling a little guilty. After all, the world could always use a few more gardenias. To atone for my heartlessness, I’ve written a parody of Jim Croce’s old song, “Operator.” (If you remember it, you and Methuselah were in kindergarten together.)


Won’t you help me place this call?

You see, the number on this switch blade is old and faded.

He lives in Alabam

He likes okra and fried Spam

He saw it when my meth lab was raided.

But isn’t that the way they say it goes?

Well, let’s forget all that

And give me Grump’s number if you can find it

So I can call just to tell him I’m fine

And to show

I’ve overcome the blow

I like gardenia’s smell

Got Southern Living here

That recipe worked swell

And my cell walls are teal

I like how they make it feel.


  1. chathamcorabbit

    I love it! I’m still laughing…
    Semi-random P.S.
    We got a couple of Beagles back in the summer after our first Beagle, Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town) passed away. One of the dogs, Rosie, is a retiree from a medical research lab- so she came with a name (and a number crudely tattooed on her ear). The other one was a little, black Beagle puppy who needed a name. My first thought was “Johnny Cash” but we settled on “Waylon Jennings”. I’m sure that we owe one of those great men a great big apology- I’m just not sure which one…

    January 31, 2009 at 1:40 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener

    I remember the part in “Folsom Prison Blues” where Johnny actually recalls his flower-picking debacle.
    It goes:
    When I was just a baby
    My mama told me boy
    Don’t pick my geraniums
    You know they’re not a toy
    So I yanked up her petunias
    Just to watch them die
    I also trashed her dahlias
    I hang my head and cry.

    January 30, 2009 at 11:57 am
  3. chathamcorabbit

    Johnny Cash would NOT approve (of not taking the call, I mean- I don’t know how he felt about Jim Croce). That poor inmate may have had some very valid and pressing questions concerning the nutrient needs of the green, green turf-type fescue of home. While I’m on the great JC (this is not really relevant- but, ask anybody, they’ll tell you that I’m rarely relevant)I must point out that while most people assume that the Man in Black pulled some hard time for shooting a man in Reno, or whatever, he never spent a day in prison. He did, however, spend one night in jail. And for what? (Drum roll…) Picking flowers!! Yeah, in someone else’s yard, and while drunk, and apparently while making some noise… but it’s kind of endearing, isn’t it?

    January 29, 2009 at 8:52 pm
  4. Isaac

    Sadly, for them to try this means it actually works on some idiots.

    January 15, 2009 at 8:27 pm
  5. Grumpy Gardener

    Sorry, I’m already hiding Bernie Madoff.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:58 am
  6. Lianne

    Just for future reference, if I were in financial ruin and crashed my plane/staged my own death, could I stay at your house for a few days?

    January 14, 2009 at 8:36 am
  7. Helen @ Gardening With Confidence

    Grumpy, you crack me up! She says in a voice as if talking to a puppy dog, “You just so cute.”

    January 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener

    Oh, so it was you? Next time, text.

    January 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm
  9. Lianne

    If I were in jail, you’d be the first person I’d call.

    January 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm

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