Monday, April 20, 2009


It’s not that I’m avoiding you, or uninterested in whatever you are calling to discuss. It’s just that I loathe and abhor talking on the phone.

I’m not sure when this started, or what it’s all about. When I was little, it was a thrill to answer the phone, even when doing so required getting up and walking to where the phone was installed. When it rang, we girls would scramble to get to the kitchen wall unit with it’s long, tangly cord. We had to answer: “Hello, this is Jacquie! Who’s calling, please?!”


Despite that nerdy script, it was fun to answer the phone, fun to find out the identity and purpose of the caller.

Now there’s no excitement, no intrigue, no fun. When someone calls my home, the caller ID actually flashes on the tv screen! When my cell phone rings, I can distinguish between a work and a personal call by the song that plays a ringtone.

Unless you are calling to ask me for money, I do not screen your calls. I promise. I try to be cordial and get quickly to the reason for the call, then wrap it up and disconnect as soon as possible. I just don’t chat well anymore, at least by phone.

In person, I’ll chat with you till you are forced to hide in the bathroom or feign unconsciousness just to make it stop. I’m even good with strangers, I can always find something to talk about if necessary. But just as often, I do not think it IS necessary! I am comfortable with silence. Seems like I’m in the minority on this, though.

I was thinking about it yesterday during my marathon cut and color session. There’s a situation when it seems it would be easy to enjoy a little silence, or better yet – a chance to read the massive hardcover library book I’ve been dragging around town for the last couple of weeks, the one I am desperate to finish before my trip on Tuesday because I don’t want to pay for an extra suitcase to haul it. But it seemed rude to read while the chatty stylist worked his magic, so chat we did. Ask me anything about that guy, I know it all.

I think the simple explanation for my phone aversion is that I just don’t have time to stop and chat, especially at home. Our days are full and life doesn’t really slow down until certain short family members start to pass out in their beds. I can multitask with the best of them, but I do like to focus when taking phone calls, because it’s just embarrassing to have to admit that you weren’t listening to someone who is speaking directly into your ear hole.

Driving used to be a great time to make and take phone calls, I’d be sitting down, the kids physically restrained a whole foot away from me, and the caller would have my undivided attention. Well, divided of course by the maneuvering of the tons of steel at high speeds, but you know what I mean.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I communicate better in writing. Text me, e-mail me, IM me, tweet me, friend me – you’ll be amazed and possibly a wee bit frightened by the speed and accuracy of my response. And I’ll blog for you, baby, every third day like clockwork. But if we’re going to chat, I’d much rather do it face to face, preferably over drinks.

Who’s with me?


mumple said...

I started hating the phone after having a job for 7 years where I was "first up" to answer the department phone--and the way the company's system was set up, EVERY call that didn't go to a specific extension came to me.

Now, though, I hate answering the phone when it's my mother. A "short" call is 30 minutes, and it's usually a re-hash of crap we've already discussed...and she's currently in a very foul, not-getting-her-way-often-enough mood, which turns EVERY comment into a judgement session (including justification for even uttering any person's name) of that person, place, thing, or idea.

Ugh. I'm with you.

Rita said...

How do you get your caller ID to flash on your TV screen? That would be so handy.

I don't have your aversion to the phone. I don't work full-time though and the wee one entertains herself (something called "imaginative play" that we encourage) for long stretches of time (that seem to end abruptly whenever I wish to do anything constructive--like immerse myself into a bit of writing). So, I do still like to chat on the phone.

But, when everyone's home in the evenings, I don't have time. I'm strictly a daytime phone user. So, I can sort of relate.

needs an answering service in PA said...

I always loved being the first to the phone so I have a hard time understanding why I can't get an 8, 11, and 13 yr old to get the phone before the answering machine picks up. I can't even get the 13 yr old to call and see if a friend want to join him at the Y and yet he wants a cell phone for his 14th b-day. I mentioned that I really didn't plan on spending $$ on a phone when he actually hates to talk on them. Of course he replied, "but I can text people"..HA!
and yet, I love to me sometime!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Well, *I* can certainly vouch for this. Jacquie is, in fact, not great on the phone. Or, actually, she is, because she's so charming and clever. Clearly. But she Just. Wants. To. Get. Off. The. Phone. The whole time she's on.

I'm married to a guy who never stops talking. Ever. Hmmmmmm. If I ever need to torment Jacquie, I'll just have Schleckah call her.....


Aunt Becky said...

Depends on the mood I'm in. Sometimes, I am dying to speak to a real! live! person! and other days, I'd just as soon shrivel up and become a hermit.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I am so with you, j. I'd rather communicate in person or via email or some other online medium. The phone just doesn't do it for me.

Unless you're catching up with some out-of-town friend or family member, the phone should just be for quick exchanges.

My husband does not feel the same way -- so glad we live together so I don't have to talk to him on the phone anymore!

Anonymous said...

I lived alone for quite a few years... no child around, no room-mate, no spouse... simply alone. You get used to the quiet and sometimes just the phone ringing felt like an intrusion. I'm with you... e-mail me and I'm more than happy to type you an answer.

The Blue Ridge Gal

Kathi D said...

Me too. I usually don't answer the phone, and I often don't even check for messages. Oh sigh.

I don't like to take the time for the phone, that's true. But I think I still have a residue of "phone dread" left over from the days when close family members were in precarious health and so a great many calls conveyed bad news.