Catch the Witness, Catch the Wit

My brother called me one day last week when I was in WinCo, shopping for groceries. It was a little hard to bag broccoli and cart around carrots while simultaneously chatting on the phone, so I said I’d call him back.

Yesterday, I dialed his number and the following conversation took place.

“Hey,” he said. “What’s up?”
“You tell me,” I replied.
“But you called me.”
“No, you called me. I’m calling you back.”
“What do you mean, you’re calling me back?”
“Remember last week when you called me and I had my hands full, so I promised to call you back? This is me fulfilling my promise.”
“That was four days ago!”
“Right. So, what’s going on?”
“Calling four days later doesn’t count as calling me back. It’s a new call.”
“No, it’s an extension of the last call. The only reason I dialed your number is because you dialed mine first. Ergo, this is calling you back.”
“What if you had called me two months from now? Would you consider that calling me back?”
“Of course not. Too much time would have passed.”
“Four days is too much time!”
“Four days is a drop in the cosmic bucket. So, what’s up?”

This whole Seinfeldian exchange (and ensuing debate) does bring up a good question. At what point does a call back stop being a call back and become a regular call? Is there any way to measure this objectively?

Does a call back have an expiration date?

In my mind, apparently that distinction lands somewhere between four days and two months. I just don’t know where. My brother, on the other hand, would have none of that. I asked him to give me credit for calling him back, but like a corporate banker sitting across from a bankrupt man, he patently refused my request.


And then, to make matters worse, he dissed Rush.

I mentioned that Portland is one of the stops on their 40th anniversary tour this summer, and we were thinking of going. At that point he made a gagging sound over the phone.

“You don’t like Rush?” I asked.

“Hate ’em,” he replied. “I’ll give you three reasons why. A) They’re Canadian. B) Their lead singer sounds whiny and nasally. C) “Tom Sawyer.”

I thought my brother’s points were completely off base. Except for the Canadian thing, of course. Can’t trust our neighbors to the north worth a damn. But Tom Petty’s got the whole nasally thing working for him, so why not Geddy Lee? And what’s wrong with “Tom Sawyer,” anyway?!

What you say about his company is what you say about society. Catch the mist, catch the myth. Catch the mystery, catch the drift.


So, do you think I called my brother back, or did I just call my brother? And what about Rush? Would you pay to see them in concert?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

15 thoughts on “Catch the Witness, Catch the Wit

  1. HAHAHAHA! Mark, I loved the exchange between you and your brother. Yes, very…Seinfeldian!

    “So, do you think I called my brother back, or did I just call my brother?”

    I think you called called your brother back. But you see, I’m the kind of person, unless someone calls me and it sounds urgent (like they REALLY need to talk to me about something), it can be days and even weeks before I call them back. And I’m also that way when it comes to calling someone else. If they call me back days or weeks later, that’s totally okay with me.

    And no, I wouldn’t pay to see Rush in concert. But that’s only because I’m not into heavy rock. Yet, I really like Geddy Lee’s voice.


    1. Right! Glad you agree, Ron. I’m a busy guy and I have a lot going on. Hell, he was lucky it only took me four days to call him back!

      I like Geddy Lee’s voice, too. It’s pretty distinct.


  2. Call backs absolutely have expiration dates! I would say w/in 48 hours. Much past that and I get nervous for a response – mostly because the bulk of my calls have to do with event planning so I need answers and problem solving ASAP. BTW, because I’m the best communicator on a monthly social a few local nonprofits host, I just scored us free pints of beer with admission to our event! I rule! (all because I call people back…and thank them for what they do.) Ok, I’ll stop rubbing in how awesome I am. Seriously though, Mark, four DAYS???


    1. OK, I get that in your line of work call backs need to happen more quickly. But what about on a personal level? The day after my brother called I had to take my daughter to an appointment, and the day after that it was Friday and we were eating pizza, so you know – no call back there. The day after THAT I just forgot. But hey, nobody’s memory is perfect! On the fourth day I remembered and called him back. Yeah, I said it. CALLED HIM BACK. 🙂


  3. A call back has to happen in 24 hours in my book.

    I think Rush was my husband’s first concert. I saw on Reddit that Rush is bypassing the Rock and Roll Capitol of the world and the peeps are pissed!


  4. I think a call back is a call back. Time elapsed doesn’t matter too much unless so much time has passed that caller #1 has been forced to either make another call to you or make their call to someone else instead,


    1. Thank you! That’s an excellent point, and should be an addendum to the rule: so long as the first caller did not have to make a follow-up call himself, you are off the hook.

      Pun intended.


    1. I thought of you while writing this, lol.

      I don’t understand all the Rush hate. I got it on Facebook, too. Does nobody appreciate the wittiness and wink-wink social commentary of a song like The Trees?


      1. Rush is no Red Rider. The CRTC FORCED us to listen to Rush, so we hate them, BUT….40 years later and still going strong? I quit teaching long before then, so good for them. Geddy Lee did a great rendition of ‘Take Off Eh’ but that’s it. BTW, Don’t trust a Canadian, we are far to kind and polite for it to be legit. You’ve been warned. Now go listen to Red Rider and Tom Cochran. You’re Welcome.


  5. Love ’em, Mark! I’ve seen Rush 6 times (including twice on the Vapor Trails tour, 3 weeks apart), had tickets to the R30 tour as well, but a hurricane was heading up the coast and supposed to hit the Newark, NJ area about the same time as the concert, so I bailed. Planning on seeing them this tour, but my friend and I are going to wait a little closer to the shows to make up our minds on tickets. Heck, I like to say he and I are on one of the live albums – we were at the show in Philly for the concert from which one of the tracks made it onto the Different Stages album – and we were on the floor about 20 rows in front of the sound board!
    Hey, I figure Scott’s lucky you bothered to call him back in the first place. I give you credit. 😉


    1. I had no idea you were such a fan, Rob! Good to know. Presale tickets are available starting tomorrow, but they are not cheap – nosebleed seats are $46 and the best are $126. Sure would be a good show, though…


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