you know how when little kids play tag, they go, “onetwothree NOT IT!” then the child who is the least on the ball always gets dumped with being “it”. i always found that soooooooooooo stressful- as a child and now watching it as an adult. something about the artificially induced panic of having to declare yourself as not “it” nauseates me.
i have a similar reaction to phone protocol.
first, let me assure you that everything i am about to write is about me. i’m not implying anything about anyone else. the same way that if i don’t like pepperoni pizza i don’t eat it, but i certainly wouldn’t say that nobody should eat it. or that nobody should be allowed to eat it. i definitely don’t judge anyone who eats it. you’ll see how this ties in shortly.
i stubbornly cling to the notion that phones are for my convenience. although this is maddening to members of my family, this is my story and i’m sticking to it.
if the phone rings and i am busy with something else, i don’t answer it. i am happy to have people leave messages, and i will return the call when it works for me. similarly, if i call someone and have to leave them a message, i am happy that i didn’t interrupt them or catch them in the middle of something. i am not calling them to intrude, so i am glad my call was not an intrusion.
some people are neurotically driven to answer the phone. every. single. time. it. rings. they will literally choke on their food, spill their coffee, or run out of the bathroom, all in a frantic desire to respond to the pavlovian ringing of a phone. i am sad for these people. if i am going to be a slave to something, i certainly don’t want it to be a phone ringer.
if i am not near the phone, i don’t race to get it. this is a corollary of the above, but it merits saying. i will not risk tripping, slipping, sliding, or any other mechanism of injury to answer a phone. this is why God invented answering machines. but truly, even before answering machines were so widespread, i wouldn’t risk life or limb to answer the phone. really, what are the odds that the call i miss is a one-chance-only opportunity of a lifetime? or that it is time sensitive down to the minute and i need some critical information NOW? slim enough to keep me in the shower even if i hear the phone ringing. gasp.
if my phone beeps while i am talking to someone i ignore it. (with the rare exceptions of when a doctor is calling me back about a pressing issue or when my kids are home alone and really might need me) i think that “taking a click” basically says to the person you are speaking to, “hang on. i want to check and see if someone i would rather talk to is on the other line.” it says, “you were good enough for me a second ago. but now maybe i’m going to trade up for a better model. can i call you later?”
i don’t answer the phone while i am driving. certain people close to me think this makes me old and curmudgeony. i don’t know what the laws are about being on the phone while driving in seattle, but i am already engaged in an activity that takes focus (driving), so i just let the phone ring. or i let one of the kids answer it. yes, i am right there. yes, i could get a thing you put in your ear to talk while your hands are on the wheel. but why would i do that? when did it become de rigueur to have to be available every second of every minute of every day? if i am driving, i am busy. pretend you hear a busy signal when you call me if it makes you feel better.
i will not have private conversations in public. i find it unsettling to be somewhere and have to listen to someone’s private details. i am not a therapist and i don’t want to know about your date last night, or your husband who is a liar, or how you cheated on your taxes. really i don’t think i am in a minority here. i think that if someone is calling me to discuss private information, i should give them the curtousy of keeping it private. i will even sometimes go into another room and close the door. i would hope my friends would do the same for me. i would rather talk to you another time than have the school secretary or the grocery clerk have to know about my ______________________________________ (yes, i purposely wrote a blank space. that’s called privacy, and i’m a big fan.)
i will tell my family not to get up from a meal to answer the phone. i will make them stop texting in the middle of family time. i will go so far as to ask them to end a call if it is getting intrusive on family time.
i know this makes me somewhat of a fuddy duddy. (that looks so silly written out! i would use the expression out loud, in spite of it belonging to the 80 and over crowd, but i looks hilarious written out like that. hunh- go figure…)
this sometimes makes me seem obnoxious or controlling or not “with it”.
but really, if the phone is not here as a device to make my life smoother or more simple then i really don’t want a phone.