Hello, Goodbye

Maxwell L. Child ’10 picks up the phone and puts down his foot.

As I slump into my office chair on an average Monday, I catch it out of the corner of my eye—a pulsating red light. It’s summoning me, beckoning me, pleading with me to check my voicemail. I spend all afternoon trying to avoid it, taking care of other trivial tasks until I can resist no longer. I dial the number.

“You have...17...new messages. To listen to your messages, press—”


The familiar baritone comes on.

“Hi, it’s 5:30 on Thursday, and how about some ranger cookies and devil’s brownies? I haven’t gotten more than two hours of sleep in three months.”

“Hi, it’s 7 on Friday, and what does Clifford think of Howie Carr’s column on national searches? Did you know that Pandit is Indian-born?”

“Hi, it’s 2:30 on Saturday, and I just told Malcom my favorite line about Henry Kissinger.”

“Hi, it’s noon on Sunday, and later I’ll be breaking out the cotton and the gorilla.”

And so on.

The voicemailer’s barrages remind me on a regular basis of one of the most unique, amusing, and sometimes frightening aspects of my job—I regularly come into contact with more crazy people than probably anyone else on campus. Not “crazy like a fox” people, not people who are “a little off-kilter,” but people who are genuinely, certifiably out of their gourds. Drew Faust probably gets more of their messages than I do, but I bet she doesn’t read all her own mail or check her own voicemail.

For some reason, crazy people dig The Crimson. (I’ll avoid the obvious jokes.) The voicemailer is far from my only deranged friend.

There’s the guy who sent a collage of photos, newspaper clippings, and paragraphs of text extolling the virtues of “Froggy the Gremlin,” who, as far as I can tell, was a precursor to Kermit the Frog for TV shows in the 1940s. Apparently, “in a puff of smoke, Froggy appeared, laughing, hopping from side to side, that fixed and evil grin on his face.” I encourage you to Google around to find out more.

A certain woman called my cell phone once a week over the summer, always with the same opening.

“Hello, is this Max Child?”