Sunday, November 6, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls...Please, Not Me!

As of right now, my phone has rung a little over 40 times today. This is not counting the text messages I have received, which is over twice as many, just the actual phone calls. I didn't answer many of them, but it was not because of any adverse feelings I had toward the person who was calling, but for a much simpler reason: I HATE TALKING ON THE PHONE!!!

I really, really do and I don't use the word 'hate' loosely. I absolutely do not want to talk on the phone with anyone. About 10 years ago, I worked for a cell phone company and even then only had a phone because they gave me one and told me that was how they would get a hold of me when I was not at work. I gave only my immediate family my number. I didn't even have a house phone at the time. I didn't want one.

The only reason I later got a phone was because the cellular company offered $20/month discounts on one line for employees and my wife was dying to have one. There have been periods since then that I have been without any type of phone service. In fact, if I could have my way, I wouldn't have one now.

Because I am a substitute teacher, most of my job assignments are gained by receiving an early morning phone call. As much as the sound of that phone rakes on my nerves, it also means money, so I tolerate it. Plus, having a teenage daughter, I like to occasionally know her whereabouts. Once I am permanently employed and she is moved out of the house, I will probably cancel my phone service once again.

People have heard me gripe about my disdain for phones for years. When I started at the cellular company, I worked in the tech department and since it was a locally owned business, we could fix phones right there on the spot. I saw all types of people with different phone needs, but had the following conversation a thousand times:

ME:  Ma'am, it looks like your (insert random piece of circuitry) has gone bad.
CUSTOMER:  What does that mean?
ME:  Not to worry. I can fix it!
CUSTOMER:  How much is THAT going to cost me?
ME:  Not a cent. I can do it right here.
CUSTOMER:  Well, aren't you a wonderful, handsome young man.
ME:  My mother thinks so.
CUSTOMER:  Tell her she did a fine job!
ME:  Thank you, ma'am, I will.  Here is your service ticket. I should have your phone ready by noon tomorrow.
CUSTOMER:  (surprised) Tomorrow?
ME:  (proudly) Yes, ma'am! We try to be fast. One day turn around.
CUSTOMER:  (flustering) Well...what am I supposed to do until then?
ME:  Excuse me?
CUSTOMER: What am I supposed to do without a phone for a whole day?
ME:  The same as you normally do, but without a phone.
CUSTOMER: (angrily) Listen, you ugly little cretin, I'm supposed to go to my mother's tonight.
ME: (confidently) Well, if you are going to be at her house, then you won't need a phone. You can talk directly to her.
CUSTOMER:  Are you trying to be smart?
ME:  One of us has to be.
CUSTOMER:  (feigning shock)  How dare you! Do you know who I am?
ME: (proudly) Yes, ma'am, I do. You wrote your name on this invoice.
CUSTOMER: I'm going to call your manager!
ME: (apologetically) You won't be able to reach him until tomorrow afternoon.
CUSTOMER: And why is that?!?
ME:  You won't be getting your phone back until then.

No signal!!! Should we just die now?
That conversation happened over 10 years ago and people were not nearly as dependent on their phones as they are now. The very idea of stepping foot outside the house without a cell phone petrifies many with fear. What if I get a flat tire? Let's try to break this down. What did people do 20 years ago if they blew a tire? They did crazy things like change it, or in extreme cases, walked to the nearest house to make a phone call.

People went on dates without having a phone, they drove across the country, kids went to school and somehow the human race survived. I am not an advocate for getting rid of phones. I don't care for them, but if someone wants to have one that is their right. It is the ridiculous notion that a person will not be able to function without one that I object to.

Regardless of the opinion I have had of phones for many years, this blog was sparked by the fact that my phone has been ringing more and more lately. For several years, my phone (when I had one) rarely rang. My friends and family were very aware that I would rather chew on bloated dung beetles than get tied up in an involved phone conversation. Any time I handed out my number, I carefully explained that if the need ever arose to call me, they were to say what they had to say and then let me go. Do NOT call me 'just to talk.' Do NOT get off topic and NEVER, EVER call me and then say, "Hang on, I have another call." I guarantee I will not still be on the line when you come back and probably won't answer when you call the next time.

Only a very few people abide by the rules I request when I hand out my number, therefore, over the years when I moved or got a new phone, the number of people to get my number greatly decreased. I moved to central Illinois a year ago and got new phone service when we hit town. The new number was given to less than a dozen people. I hate talking on the phone so much, I didn't even give it to my girlfriend, who now lived more than two hours away due to my recent move. My reasoning was fairly simple. I knew if I gave her my number she would abuse it, by doing things like...calling, wanting to talk, etc.  Needless to say, we are no longer dating. Unfortunately, nothing in this paragraph is a joke.

I was never irritated that she called me before the number change. I was irritated as soon as I heard the phone ring that ANYONE was calling me. A ringing phone is an intrusion into my peaceful abode. It grates on my nerves, my hair stands on end and I feel stressed as soon as my phone starts to ring. It doesn't matter who is calling me. I hate it. I don't know why I feel this way, but I am acutely aware that I do feel it.

A few people, knowing how much I hate phone conversations, will text me. This is great as long as they can text and I can respond and then be done. If it goes back and forth more than three times, then it is now more nerve-grinding then just talking. A 10 minute texting storm could have been completed in 60 seconds by voice.

For those of you that have my number, please know that I do not screen my calls. If you call me and I do not answer, it is not because I don't want to talk to YOU. Don't take my not answering personally. Me not answering is usually because I am done with my phone for the day and have turned it off or it is in the other room and do not feel like going to find out who it is. If my daughter is safe at home, that is usually the case. If you leave me a message, and I know that I will be seeing you in the next few days, I will wait until then to conclude the conversation. If you don't leave me a message, then I will assume that it wasn't that important and I am grateful I didn't pick up the phone in the first place.

I am not anti-social. I like people and LOVE good conversation, but I highly prefer it face-to-face. If you have a problem with the blog I have written today, leave a comment, send me a Facebook message, email me, take me to dinner to discuss it or drop by my house, but do not, under any circumstances, CALL ME. Especially if we will run into each other anytime in the next year. We can catch up then.


  1. Haha it sounds better on the blog than it did when you were venting about it to me in the car on our way to wal-mart XD

  2. I know that sometimes my phone will ring just when I have one swipe on the baby's butt and can't reach the other wipes, the phone is somewhere not visible and that makes me sin almost every time. Or my kids you gotta love them or you would kill them will walk in talking on it and say someone wants to talk to you. I could do without one sometimes. Or maybe most times.

  3. Thank you, Alex, for the idea for this blog.

    Christy, I have all sorts of reasons not to answer. I don't blame you at all.

  4. Gotta love ya Brett!:) I agree on most points. Mainly because I hate it when you're on the phone so long, your ear starts to sweat from the heat coming off it! probably don't have that problem. Haha

    Dawn :)

  5. I am one who loves my phone. The convenience of having it and talking on it. Texting, messaging, all that. haha. But I definitely don't think everyone should have to feel the same way. Alex feels the way you do. Partially due to the fact that when he was in the Army, that is how his command would reach him and he had to have it on him and where he could hear it 24/7 and he HAD to answer it. No matter the time of day or what he was doing. He wants to get rid of it, but is going to settle with changing his number as soon as our contract is up. :)

  6. Nothing wrong with the way you feel, Brett. I agree on some points. It annoys me especially when I'm trying to have a face-to-face conversation with someone and they're texting another person or updating their Facebook page. I understand if you're expecting an important call, or if you were polite enough to ask if I didn't mind, but don't just assume I'm ok with twiddling my thumbs for 20 minutes while you alert Twitter-verse that you ordered a Diet Coke.

    Ok, ok, I'm done ranting, lol.

  7. I agree Brett! When I was trying to withdraw from the world, cause I was sick of stupid people, I refused to answer the phone. Send me an email or text, but I wasn't going to talk to anyone unless they came to see me!

  8. Dawn, I certainly do NOT have that problem.

    Brandi P, I definitely see the benefits of having one and it definitely makes life easier when you need it. I just hate to talk on one. That includes land lines.

    Brandi B, getting into the bad manners associated with people and their phones could be the subject of several more blogs. People just forget where they are when their phone rings. Our local SUBWAY has a sign on their counter asking people to stay off their phone while ordering.

    Tiffany, it sound like we are cut from the same cloth on this issue.

  9. I'm not a phone person either, not since text. I'd rather do what I'm doing and respond without being bothered. Chances are if you text me, you'll get immediate response. If you call'll get voice mail.

    As a teenager, I was all about the phone, but text has made life so much easier or IM, or email. :)

    Hilarious conversation!

  10. Jessica, I am the same way about texting, as long as we can just do it real fast and be done. If we have to keep going back and forth, then I will just call the person to get it over with.

  11. I never learned how to chat on the phone. When you grow up going to boarding school, if you want to talk to a friend, you just shout down the hall. And being a half-a-world away, when family in the States wanted to call, it was a huge ordeal.

    I can't chat on the phone, so will just call, ask my question/state my intention and feel like I'm done, and I haven't had a land-line in years.

    1. Just another area that we think alike. I have never been a fan of phones.

    2. I don't know if you are still subscribed to this post, but do we need to rethink our stance on phones now?

  12. I would rather wear Crocs in public than talk on the phone. At the end of the day I don't even want to talk to my children let alone a chunk of plastic. Meh...

    1. Yes. I spend more time on the phone with Red than I ever have with anyone else, so I almost had to retract this, but I still feel the same way. I will talk to her and then turn my phone off for the night.

  13. Hilarious and still not sure how I got so dependent on my phone, but I sadly am. And not for talking on it, but for all things web and data based planned!! Thanks for sharing and truly great post :)

    1. It happens to a lot of us. I live on my laptop when I am at home. If my internet were to go out, I might have a meltdown if it took longer than an hour to come back on.

  14. I've got you number on this. I hate, HATE talking on the phone. Always have. The dawn of the text message was a revelation to me and I choose to never look back. However, there are still those stubborn people in my life who insist upon talking to me. That ticks me off. But whatcha gonna do? And your customer service DIALogue is priceless! LOL

    1. Thank you. I am a big believer in the power button on my phone. Once my daughter gets home, I shut it off. The silence is marvelous.

  15. LOL, your response to why she couldn't reach the manager - oh that was great!

    I hate the phone too and I really hate trying to have a conversation. it's necessary sometimes, but it's bordering on painful. especially when the twins are screaming for attention all around me.

    my mom can not go outside with the kids for 10 minutes without bringing her phone with her. it amazes me every time.

    1. I had people fly into full rages at that customer service job. The idea of being without (sometimes for just a couple of hours) was more than they could handle.

  16. You know it seemed kind of harsh in the beginning, but the more I read it the more I longed for a life with out my phone. My son often says, "so you mean when you were a kid the phones were attached to the walls??" Yes they were, and if you were not at home, no one answered.
    Stopping by from I don't like Monday's, not calling. ever.

    1. Thank you. I am a huge technology geek and love having the newest, latest and greatest EXCEPT in the area of the phone. The need to be connected to the world at all times is completely lost on me.


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