March 9, 2007
The big news in America last week was Hillary Clinton's 3am phone call ad. In it she said if there were a crisis and the phone in the White House rang at 3am, Americans could feel safe with her answering it. She had the experience to know what to do.
Naturally everyone assumed this experience comes from being Bill's wife. How many times did the phone ring in the middle of the night the last time she was at the White house. "Don't read the Starr report!" Or, "Is your husband with you? We can't find him."
The Obama camp countered her ad and then McCain's wife made a statement - soon the question of the day was: who do the American people want answering the phone at three in the morning. What's wrong with Bill Clinton? Why not. It's not like he has to wake up early.
Since when did 3am become the defining hour of the world's destiny? You'd think one of the candidates would be a little original and claim they can answer a phone at 2.30am. Also no one explained what would happen if that call went to voicemail. So many questions.
I suppose being able to think clearly at 3am is a mark of a true leader. I wouldn't know. I switch my phone off before I go to sleep precisely to avoid being woken up with an emergency. I can't handle a crisis until I have my contact lenses in and some coffee.
Then again, I tend to assume something bad has occurred whenever the phone rings. My first instinct is to worry. Forget 3am, I'm anxious when the phone rings at three in the afternoon.
I used to go out with someone who was so calm that when his phone rang in the middle of the night his first reaction was to assume it was a wrong number and he wouldn't pick up. That drove me nuts. Every call was a potential missed emergency.
Now that I'm no longer in a relationship, I don't worry about getting calls in the middle of the night, I'm more concerned about making them. If there were a 3am crisis, who would I call?
Who is my "in case of emergency" call? When the airlines ask for this information, I never know who to put down. I can't put my father, it would be too stressful for him. Plus he's a deep sleeper; if the call came past midnight he wouldn't wake up.
Sometimes I'll put my friend Liza. But she's got enough going on - the airline would leave a message and there's a good chance she'd forget to call back.
I've thought of nominating an ex-boyfriend. That would be fun. My plane has crashed, I'm dead, and he's stuck with having to call everyone and tell them the news.
One time, I couldn't think of who to put so I wrote: CNN. It seemed like a good idea. They could put the announcement on the television tickertape that no one reads.
In between the "Killer tornado in Florida" and "Eva Mendes back in rehab" they could mention I was no longer around.
Putting someone down as your 'in case of emergency' person is tricky. It's a lot of responsibility that nobody wants. Except maybe Hillary Clinton. Next time I'll put her down. What are the chances she'll pick up?