The term "wake up call" has a couple of meanings. It can be a sudden realization that you need to change your ways or it can be literally a call to wake you up in the morning. Either way it's jarring.
When you are in the middle of something and the phone rings it's either an annoying interruption or a welcome relief from whatever it is you were doing. As long as what you are doing does not involve sleeping.
When the phone rings in the middle of the night it is automatically assumed to be something horrific. Hearing the phone in the middle of the night immediately makes me think something terrible has happened to someone I love.
It's not altogether irrational on my part. Our system at home is for the nurse to call the house number if Maggie is in trouble and I will come a'runnin. The phone is right next to our bed and it's faster and easier than having the nurse try to yell for help. I hear the phone and I don't even answer it, I just go straight downstairs. Those calls used to be several times a week, but things have been going very well for Maggie and it's been several weeks since the nurse has needed any help at night.
Around 5 this morning I was sleeping very soundly when I was dreamily aware of a ringing phone. It sounded far away and it stopped after a minute or two. I settled back to sleep and then suddenly was wide awake. What was ringing? Why wasn't it ringing in our room? Could I have grown so complacent with our relative calm that the phone wasn't in its cradle (of course the base rings anyway, but I wasn't thinking straight.)
I jumped up and headed downstairs. The nurse was sitting in the chair next to Maggie's bed looking through her purse for something and Maggie was sound asleep. They were absolutely fine.
Trying to make sense of the fog in my head I considered the options. We do have several phones after all. In addition to the house phone we have a fax phone (quaint, I know) and two cell phones. The cell phones were charging on the hall table as they do every night. Sure enough, I had a missed call at 5:04AM. Now my fear went to Tim who's in Chicago and two hours ahead of us. I checked to see who had called and it just said "unknown caller."
I took the phone with me back upstairs in case this "unknown caller" (who obviously had horrible news for me) called back. No call back. It was probably a wrong number. I tried to go back to sleep, but my heart was beating out of my chest.
Finally I felt myself drifting off when I heard the phone "ding" telling me I had an email. (An ad of some sort.) I was wide awake again. Now it's 5:45 and I have to be up in 30 minutes anyway. But I tried to relax and just as I started to drift off again the garbage men arrived crashing and banging in front of my bedroom window. I gave up and took a shower.
As the water washed over my tired and unnecessarily stressed body I realized I have to teach myself not to go to the worst possible place just because the phone rings. Even when it is Maggie needing help, there may be some drama but it's generally something I can easily fix.
I will work on that. In the meantime, please don't take this as an invitation to call in the middle of the night because I'm a slow learner.