Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why I never answer my phone

Actually, I'm not exactly sure why I don't answer my phone.

I answer my phone for only two reasons:

(1) If I am definitely expecting a call from someone for a specific reason, or
(2) If I see the name on the caller ID and it is someone I want to speak to.

If I do not see a name or recognize the number, there is about a 1% chance that I will pick up. Sometimes in these instances, the person is actually someone I want to speak to. If, in that case, the person leaves a message identifying himself (or, more likely, herself), I will make an effort to get to the call before he hangs up.

Sometimes I do not answer the phone because my hands are immersed in a cooking project. This happened yesterday. I was making a Good Neighbor Apple Cake, and I was at a point where I needed to stay applied. Shawn called me to let me know his progress on his drive home from PA. I would have taken that call if I could have, but I just couldn't.

Sometimes I do not answer the phone because I am in the laundry room, or vacuuming, or scrubbing the shower with the bathroom fan running. All of these activities preclude me from hearing the phone. If I am expecting a call back from, for instance, the doctor, I take the phone with me to these locations, or carry it in my pocket, but I refuse to be tied to the phone on a regular basis.

Often, I do not answer the phone because other people have removed the phones from their cradles and they are not anywhere that I can locate them to check the number to see if it is a call I would want to take. This is a fairly common occurrence at our home. Sometimes even if the caller starts to leave a message, and it is somebody I really would like to speak to, I still cannot locate the phone and I run around the house like an empty plastic grocery bag in a windy parking lot, unable to find any phone to answer. We did not have this problem back in the days when the receiver was attached to the phone by a curly cord.

As I mentioned earlier, 99% of the time, I do not answer the phone if I do not recognize the number. I figure that if it is a valid call (i.e. a call that is not a telemarketer or a politician or The March of Dimes or some other guilt-inducing charity), they will leave a message. The exception to this rule is when Jonathan is out with friends and I know he might be calling at a certain time. He does not have a cell phone (because we are mean parents), so he has to contact us via his friends' cell phones, or their parents' phones (which I guess makes us freeloaders, but I gladly loan my phone to his friends when they need it). So if Jon is out, and it is time for him to be checking in, and an unfamiliar number pops up, I do grab that call.

I do not enjoy talking on the phone. For one thing, my dogs have a tendency to bark when I am on the phone. This is like when I had little kids, and they were as good as gold until the phone rang, and then they became alien changelings who got into all manner of trouble, and it was even worse when they were quietly destructing something somewhere than when they were screaming. In fact, it is probably deep in my subconscious, horrible memories of acute trauma suffered when I was on the phone when my children were small, that makes me dread the phone today. I had no issues with the phone before I was a mother. I liked it. No more.

So, I just tell people to email me. I wish more people would email. These days, everybody uses Facebook instead. I have a terrible time focusing when I go onto Facebook to handle communications. I think, "I need to send Holly a message about those pictures." And I get on Facebook where I see that I have a bunch of notifications, so I check on them. I respond to a few, chuckle at a few, go to my homepage to see what is up with the world, get lost in somebody's youtube clip, and suddenly realize that an hour has passed and my toilets still need to be cleaned. So I run out of the study and start working on the toilets, only to remember, halfway into the job, that I never sent the message to Holly that I meant to send her in the first place.

This is my life as a ditz.

I am trying to develop a new habit. Before I go in to the computer, I tell Shawn the specific jobs I need to accomplish and how long they will take me, suppose 10 minutes, and then I say, "So, if I am not out of there in 10 minutes, can you please check on me?" The problem is, he is on his own computer and forgets to save me from mine.

Computer addictions are like food addictions. They are very tricky to manage, because you can't just go off them, 100%, the way you could if you were addicted to drugs or alcohol. You have to learn how to manage them. The modern world can be a hard place to live.

But at least caller ID helps me avoid unwanted phone calls.


Max said...

You don't answer your phone because 99% of the time, you have no idea where it is! (And I love you anyway). --Shawn

Ruth said...

Oh, that's my cell phone. I don't even give out that number to anybody, because it would be futile and frustrating for them. And saying that I don't know where it is 99% of the time is generous.