The lady of the house

Today was supposed to be a very cold day with the predicted high to be only 0oF (-18oC) with winds making it seem much colder so they decided to close schools across the region, and my university did so too. Underlining the unpredictability of weather, in actual fact the day is very sunny and the temperature right now (at mid-afternoon) is 9oF (-13oC) and there does not seem to be any wind, making it seem quite balmy, at least while I was out briefly to shovel the walkway. Yesterday with its winds actually seemed a lot colder.

But while I was at home in the morning, the phone rang and when I picked it up a woman’s voice asked “Is the lady of the house there?” and when I said no, she hung up without another word.

I was surprised by the question. It must have been a vendor of some kind but I could not think of what vendor would be interested in speaking only to ‘the lady of the house, something that sounds so Downton Abbeyish. Usually they ask to speak to the person by name or if generic, who handles the heating or cable bill or some such, without specifying the gender.

I regretted not asking her quickly enough what she wanted but she hung up so fast that I missed my chance. I did briefly consider a variation of that old joke and saying “There’s no lady here but you can talk to my wife” but decided against it since my wife was at work and would not have been able to back up my assertion.

I am still puzzling over what the person was seeking.


  1. Nepenthe says

    If you grew up in a place with telemarketers (I don’t know if you did or no), this would make more sense, I think. I remember they would always ask for either my mother or my father, but not both and not simply a parent or adult. YMMV.

  2. A. Noyd says

    Probably some sort of cosmetics MLM recruiter (think Avon or Mary Kay) or lady-product market research pollster.

  3. Artemis says

    I got a phone call asking for the lady of the house last week. They told me were doing a poll and asked the following question (this is verbatim as far as I remember): “Do you agree that parents should have the freedom to choose what media their children consume?” This sounded to me like a loaded question so I started asking many questions to clarify.
    -- Are we talking about underage children or does this include adult children?
    -- Are we talking about a parent having the freedom to bring a 6-year-old to an X-rated movie?

    So she hung up on me and I didn’t find out more about what she wanted. She didn’t even say bye.

  4. lorn says

    I think “A. Noyd” @4 nailed it.

    It may also be a local woman centered religious/civil group seeking members. Asking for the “lady of the house” is an anachronistic phrase. Mostly I’ve heard that phraseology from women 60 and over who were raised in formal society where there were sectors of concern divided by sex and scads of formal rules for dress, speech, and titles. There’s still a bit of that around down here in the deep south with wealthy families that send their kids to finishing school, and attend the local cotillion with all the other ‘old money’ and ‘families of substance”.

    Possible, I guess, but given that you are speaking of event well above the M-D line I have to assume the odds are it was a brush with MLM.

  5. Mark Doblekar says

    Actually the university (CWRU) was not closed, they only canceled classes. All the staff had to come in. It was a delayed start of 10am. But considering that all the other universities and schools and government buildings were closed, it doesn’t reflect too well on CWRU and their non-concern for their employees.

  6. invivoMark says

    I’m gonna go with the hypothesis that a “lady of the house” is something like a “lady of the lake,” and whose purpose is to hand out swords as a basis for a system of government.

  7. Janis says

    I have been getting the same call over and over again. I have been hanging up on them. Today I told the man calling that I was tired of them calling. All the calls come from a different state and phone number. So as soon as I engaged in conversation with him he told me that they owe me a refund on something I never heard of. Then all of a sudden it went dead. So they are trying to get you to talk long enough to get your info. Now I am just waiting for the ax to fall because they evidently got what they wanted. If you get the call just hang up, Don’t even speak to them.

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