A young lad doing his homework approached his father and asked, “Dad, what does ‘exasperated’ mean?” The father thought for a moment and replied, “It means to be very angry or infuriated.” The boy questioned him further: “Why do people get exasperated?” The dad sat his son down and explained: “Well, it sort of creeps up on you. It usually starts off as an inconvenience, which, if allowed to continue, leads on to annoyance, then anger and finally exasperation. Let me show you how it works…”

With that the father went to the telephone and dialled a number at random. The phone rang several times before it was answered. The father winked playfully at his son and then said, “Hello, is Simon there?” A man with a grumpy voice replied, “There is nobody here by the name of Simon. You have obviously got the wrong number,” and he hung up. “There!” said the father. “That was inconvenience. You see, it took a while for the man to answer the phone and so we obviously dragged him away from something and inconvenienced him by dialling a wrong number.” Then the father dialled the same number and when the man answered, he said again, “Hello, is Simon there?” This time the man on the other end of the phone said, “Look chum, you have just dialled this number and I have told you there is no one here called Simon. Now, please check the number and stop bothering me.” He hung up a second time. The father looked at his son and explained, “Now, we have moved from inconvenience to annoyance… Let’s try again.” With that he dialled the same number for a third time and asked, “Hello, is Simon there?” There was a moment or two of quietness, and then an angry voice bellowed, “What’s the matter with you. Are you stupid? I have already told you that Simon does not live here. STOP DIALLING THIS NUMBER! Do you understand?” The phone was slammed down hard. Again the father looked over at his son and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, said, “And that was anger! Now for exasperation; watch this…” He dialled the same number again and quietly said, “Hello, this is Simon. Have there been any calls for me?”