Saturday, June 16, 2012

Please don't leave a message at the beep.

Much of my childhood was spent "on the phone" with the cord stretched across our dining room and shut in the door to the upstairs as I sought a little privacy to talk to my friends. In a world without call waiting, I find it interesting that my parents allowed this as much as they did. Later we had a cordless phone and that solved some problems in that they didn't KNOW how much I was on it! As a child who lived in the country on a farm with no one but my siblings to play with, the phone and the mailman were my links to the outside world. I loved getting mail, but that's a different post!  Still I used to be pretty devoted to my phone and wanted to caller ID to see my missed calls, had staring matches with my answering machine, and all the other typical Bridget Jones things in college.

I actually fought getting a cell phone pretty hard way back when and now I look back and think that my reasons then were wise. No one should be that available.


I vacillate between using the phone for a good old chat with friends and between using it as a tool that doesn't warrant any unnecessary conversation.  If I'm calling someone local it's because I have a question or want to schedule something or make fairly immediate plans to get together and talk. I have little patience for an extended conversation when I'm not in a position to enjoy the talk. Because with the ease of cell phones one can answer anywhere and I frequently do, but just because I can respond and ask "what's up" doesn't mean I am in a position to hear a long story.

When it comes to leaving messages I frequently don't. Sometimes because the reason I'm calling was a pressing and immediate one and if the person I'm calling isn't available then the opportunity will expire by the time he/she is. Sometimes I'm just calling to chat and I'll leave a message saying as much. Or I will leave a detailed message that can be responded to specifically instead of playing phone tag and never getting down to the issue at hand. Better yet, if someone doesn't answer I will often text them why I was calling so that they can read it and respond when they can.  What I hate more than anything is wasting my minutes to listen to a voicemail that merely identifies the speaker and says "call me back." I can figure that out by my caller ID. In fact, I've started waiting to listen to messages until after 9 pm so I don't use my minutes on them. Yes, I'm that cheap.

I do have friends who almost exclusively text rather than talk on the phone and I tend to only talk to them when I'm driving and cannot text. This can become wearisome too when it means we are having an extended serious conversation and there are things I'd like to say but can't quite word it in that concise texting manner that also conveys my intended meaning. It's a skill and I'm working on it.

Recently I've been plagued with phone calls from a few people who seemingly call for little or no reason and get VERY irritated if I don't answer, saying things like "you are ignoring me," "no one is this busy," "you never answer my calls." It almost feels like bullying. The truth is my family, in particular, has an uncanny ability to call at exactly the wrong time.

I thought this went without saying. If I don't answer my phone it is because one of  six things is happening.
(1) I am entertaining guests or talking to someone face to face.

(2) I am at the cash register at a store (This is USUALLY what is going on)

(3) I am at a meeting or at work. (During the school year, I'm amazed at the number of people who expect me to answer my phone between 8-4 -- I'm working, people!)

(4) I am in a movie.  (I WISH this happened more)

(5) I am sleeping.

(6) It's in a different part of the house and I can't hear it or I'm outside and it's inside.

Better yet... just text me, I can read that even when I'm busy and then I know if you wanted to chat or had something that was time sensitive.  With more technology, it seems like the rules keep getting more and more complicated and that some folks just aren't keeping up and it causes all kinds of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Perhaps I just need to change my outgoing message to include some more specific explanation of what is going on that day! Until then, please forgive me. There is no (7) on the list. I promise.


(7) I am avoiding you because I don't like you and don't want to talk to you.

2 comments:

Jalee said...

I hear you on that one!

J&H said...

Well said. But I do think you should have a #7, which says - I just didn't feel like talking or answering the phone. It's nothing personal - just trying to establish personal boundaries.

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