Monday, September 17, 2012

Call Us..Maybe

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: When the phone rings, what do you do?

I yell at it.

Don't call me! I say. I'm busy. Busy--at dinner, or reading, or busy writing, or busy doing nothing. Having my life. And I don't wanna talk. And if it's bad news, all the more reason.

I'm sorry, I know it sounds rude, and even cranky, and after all the phone is a wonderful invention, and when we need it, we need it.

And I always remember the movie A Thousand Clowns, when Jason Robards' character would answer with: "Is it someone with good news or money? No?" And then hang up. Perfect.

But a new study just came out that says people don't like to talk on the phone anymore. I guess I'm a reflection of the zeitgeist.

When I was a teenager, the phone was this wonderful thing--guys were going to call (sometimes they didn't, but that was because my phone was probably broken, or my stupid sister was on it and so they got a busy signal and then they forgot to call back). In my twenties, when I lived in Washington DC and worked for Rolling Stone and the US Senate, I--really!--had an actual service who answered the phone for me and took messages a la Doris Day. And she was great--"Yes, he called!" she'd say, when I called in for my messages. (And she could give different answers to different people--(If Keith calls, I'd say, tell him I'll be home at 10, and it's okay to call late.)

Then the advent of answering machines, and their good-bad reality--you could never say you'd missed a call, right? Because you hadn't.

Anyway, I'll admit, my days of wanting to chat on the phone are over. Over! And if you want to find me, email. How about you, Reds? Do you like to talk on the phone? When the phone rings--what do you do?

RHYS BOWEN: I confess to chatting on the phone for hours with my three daughters, also to my brother in Australia. It's great to hear their voices. Much more personal than an e-mail. However it has always amazed me the way people will drop everything when the phone rings. You are having a conversation and in mid sentence when their phone rings. "I have to answer that," they say and suddenly they are talking to someone else. How rude is that? Doesn't it imply that I am not as important as the person on the phone?

HANK: Rhys! Absolutely. Or when you're at the counter and the store clerk stops helping you and answers the phone. Sigh.

RHYS: And there is the other phone-hating experience when the person in the seat behind me on the bus/train/plane spills out the intimate details of their life loudly into the cell phone. "No, Stanley, I will not have sex with you tonight!"
I wish I could get up the courage to say, "Do we care?"

JAN BROGAN:  I agree Hank, the phone at night seems to be a special intrusion - probably because I'm tired and have used up my communication skills for the day. But I still jump for the phone if it's one of my kids. And I have certain friends with whom I enjoy the occasional long phone conversation - but they are rare. And then, has anyone else noticed a trend of certain friends migrating to your cell phone? I find myself doing it to, for some reason I can't explain, I have stopped calling certain people's landlines and now communicate with these special few only by cell phone.

And then there's my texting buddies...a couple of my friends are hilarious in text, but that's another blog.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: It's so weird, isn't it? When I was a teenager, I got my OWN phone line and it was the most exciting thing ever!! (My parents ran their business from home and didn't want me tying up the business phones.) Now, although we actually do still have a land line, it's VOIP, and I NEVER talk on it. If people want to talk to me, they call my cell, and I don't answer that unless I know who's calling from the ID. Phone calls from strangers seems to have become the equivalent of a strange person ringing your doorbell. It feels like a real invasion of privacy.

I do still have friends and family I like to talk to, either on my cell or on Skype, but I also have friends (and family) that almost entirely text. My daughter never answers her phone. If I want to talk to her, I have to text her and say, "Will you please call me?"

HALLIE EPHRON: This is taking me back. The first phone I remember was a party line, and you didn't have to dial an area code: CRestview 57146. Now that's a phone number with personality.

 Anyone remember the wonderful play/movie Bells Are Ringing - the main character was someone who answered phones at Susanswerphone (pronounced: SuesAnsaPhone). The wonderful Judy Holliday immortalized the lead role.

"Ding ding ding went the trolly. Clang clang clang went the bell. Zing zing zing went my heartstrings. From the moment I saw him I fell...!"

I always think when the phone rings it's a movie deal. Needless to say I am often disappointed.

HANK: But not always, right, Hallie? :-)

ROSEMARY HARRIS: When the phone rings I do nothing . That's not true. Sometimes I yell "you get it, all my relatives are dead." I know.....grim, but I am a mystery writer. I've never been one of those gals who loved to yak on the phone "with a pound and a half of cream upon my face."

But I do love Bells are Ringing....did I ever mention that Paula Holliday is a tiny homage to Judy Holliday?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh Hank, I had an answering service too, when I had my private psychotherapy practice. You had to be available and cell phones were in their infancy. But I was not so lucky in the ladies I had answering--they could bungle things in an instant...or not call you with an emergency...or call in the middle of the night with an appointment time change...

Funny you should say that answering machines mean we never miss a call. John and I realized this week that though we have an answering machine and two cell phones, we also have Comcast answering service. So we have in fact missed HUNDREDS of calls in the past year, because A we didn't realize we had it, and B, we wouldn't have know how to access the messages anyway. Hmmm, I guess the movie moguls moved on to someone else with their big deals...

HANK: Oh, that is the best, Roberta...amazing. Did you ever discover that you missed anything? And if not--doesn't that prove the point?  (And I was UPtown 3 2768.)

How about you? (And I'm sorry if I put "Call Me Maybe in your head…) Do you like to talk on the phone? Or…do you ignore it?


  1. Oh, my . . . telephones. Now, there is a true love-hate relationship. No, I don’t want to talk on the phone. Ever. [Okay, the kids are an exception, but they know that, so they call anyway. Thank goodness.] I do have a cell phone, but I never remember the number and in all likelihood it’s not turned on, so that’s pretty much a moot point. But having a cell phone is a good thing . . . if you are stranded somewhere or if you have a sudden problem or if you are traveling and need to contact someone. [It always makes me laugh when I see people in the grocery store yakking on their cell phones, asking what it was they were supposed to buy when they got to the grocery store. But, I digress.]

    Yes, I do remember party lines . . . and answering machines [which were a great invention!] . . . and when people called you only when it was really important. Nowadays computers generate calls so that someone you don’t want to talk to can try to sell you something you don’t really want, and it is most annoying. On the plus side, if you call our landline, the caller information will pop up in the little “window” on the phone [and in the corner of the television screen] and it’s possible to screen out some of those calls, thus saving you from being rude and hanging up on the insistent telemarketer. [I wonder if the computer considers you rude if you hang up when it’s still making its tinny little spiel?] At any rate, I have a phone and I’ll give you the number, but don’t be at all surprised if no one answers when you call.

  2. The telephone is problematic for me because I have a wonky ear (ruptured eardrum as a child) and I can't hear certain pitches from it. When I can't hear, I yell. Makes perfect sense to me, but disconcerting to the recipient of the yelling. But, as Jan points out, I also have a few phone call friends.

    One thing I think is sad, because it seems to have disappeared: waiting by the phone for a phone call from a boy. It was AGONY, but such delicious agony. Does this happen anymore, I wonder? Do girls, or boys, wait for someone to call? Do they get that all-over-your-body electric feeling when you hear that special voice?

    Sorry to be so gushy and romantic on a Monday morning. Blame it on all those Betty Cavanna novels I read when I was young.

  3. I have a love/hate relationship with the telephone.

    How could we have gotten through high school without the phone? I couldn't wait to call my best friend as soon as the Beatles were done on the Ed Sullivan Show. And I know I heard one of parents say, more than once, "Why are you talking to her? You just left her 5 minutes ago."

    I started working for New England Telephone out of college. Through business deals, that company is gone and I'm now retired from the mega-corp, Verizon. Phones were my life. My first job was working in the department that collected the coins from pay phones (remember those!) I answered phones all day or trained people to do that so phones played a large part in my life. (One never forgets certain things. You could get your phone in beige, blue, green, ivory, red, white, yellow, or black. And we HAD to say them in that order.)

    Today, I prefer to text or email. Most of my family and friends are the same and when the phone rings it's almost always a number I don't recognize. A lot of 800 numbers. I had a phone interview yesterday and they set it up via email first.

    I have a landline because of being a phone company retiree and because my cell phone isn't reliable here in the mountains. Most of my family have gone cell only or VOIP. But there's a reason the landline companies are in trouble.

    Sorry to ramble.

    Maybe I am a robot. I'm unable to proof otherwise this morning. Tenth try...

  4. Oh, sort MArianne. SOmetimes the captcha thing is just--perverse. LIke when its in a different language.

    Waiting for a phone call from a boy! I mean..ALL the reasons you could come up with why they didn't cal..and al the temptations to call THEM. Whoa. NEVER call a boy, right?

    Maybe just--call and see if they're home...they;ll never know, right?

    (And did you see--THE OTHER WOMAN is number two on the Boston Globe bestseller list! (But I heard about that by email...not the phone!) Hurray! Crossing fingers those people love it.. )

  5. Congratulations, Hank!

  6. I've gone the opposite in the past few months.

    Very few people have my cell phone number, and email access can occasionally be irregular; it can be a whole fifteen minutes before I respond! Yikes! Someone recently berated me strongly because they "had been texting" and not receiving a response. I asked what number they had been texting TO, and then had to explain it was my office phone (the only number they had): an old fashioned telephone number. OMG!

    The automatic assumption texting is an option has gotten very wearying. Aside from the very real dangers of texting while driving (which people continue to do, even though it had been ruled illegal in many places), nothing is more maddening than being mid-conversation with someone and they have to pause and respond to a text.

    My personal stance, if you need to speak with me, pick up the phone. If I am available, I'll answer. If I am out of the office, leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

    Everybody's busy these days, EVERYBODY, but in this day and age of Instant Communication Technology, I'm sticking with and prefer the old fashioned, "Hi, William, it's XXXXXXX, do you have a moment?" Anyone who calls will get one of two answers: "Absolutely!" or, "I'm in the middle of something, may I call you back in ten minutes?"

    Some people get it, others get irritated. C'est la vie...:)

  7. My phone number growing up was Walnut 1-9057. I'm always tempted to call and see who has the number now.

    We dropped our landline a few months ago. We're not saving any money (if anything we're paying more), but it sure is nice to not get all those political robocalls! And I much prefer text messages to actually talking to someone.

  8. You know that's interesting, WIlliam ..(and thank you for our FB post, you wonderful man!)..sometimes when I want to get something accomplished, I go straight for the phone. No back and forthing, no misunderstood emails.

    But then--I'M calling THEM. And that, somehow, is different... :-)

  9. Cannot argue with that, Hank! For me, voice mail is a blessing. When *I* am making the call, it's irritating...:)

  10. Count me in with the hate phones crowd. We use caller ID and an answering machine to tell us when we have to pick up. Agent. Editor. That's about it. I'm also in the Western Maine mountains, so cell phones aren't reliable enough to do away with the land line. I haven't figured out texting and don't think I want to. I, too, remember party lines. Back in the 1950s my grandmother's favorite entertainment was listening in on her rural neighbors' phone conversations. That was in New York state, and that's where my first summer job was as a long distance telephone operator. We still connected calls on a cord board!!! And local phone numbers only went to three digits. Ancient history these days!

  11. This post hit a live nerve with me too! When I was in high school I too couldn't wait to get home and get on the phone with the very people I'd hung out with minutes before! And tried to keep everyone else in the family off the phone! Now, I rarely use a phone, except for someone I know Very well. I hate cell phones - I always feel I have to yell into the tiny d--- thing! But I do like email - I connect with the screen the same way I used to with the phone back in the day.. I think it is because it is a visual thing - I can SEE the words! Thelma in Manhattan

  12. Ah, Joyce, the election season calls. These days I screen 'em out. The landline's caller-id voice, with its hilarious pronunciation, warns me when not to pick up.

    There were two phone lines into my home when I was a kid. My dad's business line had three extensions. The family phone (which we called "the green phone" because it was, well, green) sat right in the front hall where everyone could hear every word of your conversation.

    To call me (maybe) meant rotary dialing DIamond 45419.

  13. As we're listing communication peeves...:) Here's another one that sends me through the roof.

    Contact someone, get no response. Okay, they're busy, client needs help now, try someone else.

    Then get, "Why didn't you call me?" Uhhhh... I did. You didn't call back. "YOU should have called ME again, then!" No, you're an adult professional; if you can't return a call, that's hardly my problem.

    That's when the swearing and cursing on their end starts....:)

  14. Our phone number in the 50's and 60's was TWINBROOK 5-3437. Isn't it funny how we can remember those details for decades, but can't remember what we were looking for between rooms?

    I have lost interest in answering the phone because of robo-calls and annoying telephone solicitors, despite being on the National Do Not Call List. It's ridiculous that politicians exempted themselves from that one. But I used to thoroughly enjoy yakking with a good friend, and had a couple pals who were especially interesting to chat with for long sessions. Not so many these days, although we do keep in touch via email and Facebook.

    My grandmother was a telephone operator in the early part of the 20th century, probably around 1919-1921. She had every number in town--something like 500 numbers at the time--memorized. And to her death at the age of 93 she had a lovely phone voice.

    Hank, I'm so pleased for you! Mazel tov.


  15. Ramona,

    Girls don't eagerly by the landline for a boy to call anymore. They wait for his text.

    The texting thing adds a whole new level of communication weirdness to dating from what I can tell from my daughter's and single friend's stories.

    my pet peeve for phones are when you call the wrong number on a cellphone and hang up as you realize it (Before anyone answers). The person almost always calls you back. Seemingly so desperate for a call, any call.

    it's bizarre.

  16. Our first phone number was 1393R, and it was a party line. ooooh - do I remember getting in a lot of trouble over that. I'm an eavesdropper from way back (I cannot believe I just told y'all that).

    Then ACademy 8-5387. How can I remember these numbers, but have trouble remembering our phone number today? Cell phone number - NO idea. Can't even remember where the cell phone is most times - I hate it (Satan wrapped in tin).

    When the phone rings at home Donald and I will both yell simultaneously - "It's for you!"

    I love email. Hate the phone.

    When I took the Meyers-Briggs, our facilitator assured us the inventor of telephone answering machines had to be an introvert - I agree. It (along with email) allows me to socialize when I'm ready - with someone I want to socialize with, at a time that's convenient, in a spot that feels "right." Classic introvert? Moi? Pfft - I guess! (But I'd love to have one of those old phones in your graphic, Hank, just 'cause it looks so cool.

  17. What a great article, ugh phone calls at home.
    NO Way, I don't answer

    Answering the phones for my small company is part of my day job and frankly it stays at work. I can all but guarantee that any phone calls in the evening will be
    1)automated endorsing one candidate or the other
    2)someone I don't want to talk to anyway
    3) if it's the children they yell at the answering machine pick it up mom it's me.

    I guess I started hating the phone when our youngest daughter was a teen (she's 32 now, and has no time to call her parents unless she needs or wants something)
    and the phone calls from boys, slamming the receiver, yelling at girlfriends who "don't understand her", late night calls from guys who think they're cool

    I could go on but I won't and don't call me unless I won the lottery


  18. I think that Hallie has gotten her Judys confused. Holliday and Garland. Garland sung "The Trolley Song" and Holliday sang this wonderful song from "Bells are Ringing" called "It's a Perfect Relationship" (meanding the anonymous answering service woman and the man she gives messages to every day:

    "I'm in love with a man
    What a perfect relationship
    I can't see him, he can't see me
    I'm in love with a voice
    What a perfect relationship
    I talk to him and he just talks to me

    And yet I can't help wondering
    What does he look like
    I wish I knew
    What does he look like
    Is he six-foot-seven or three-foot-two
    Has he eyes of brown or baby blue
    Big and mighty or underfed
    Trim black moustache or beard of red
    Can he dance like Fred Astaire
    Is he dark or is he fair
    Pompadour or not a hair
    Well I don't care!

    I'm in love with a man
    What a perfect relationship
    And that's how things should always be
    Our love can never lose its mystery
    'Cause I'll never meet him
    And he'll never meet me
    No, he'll never meet me

    What does he look like
    My sleeping Prince
    What does he look like
    Tough as nails with a black cigar
    As handsome as a movie star
    Stern as an eagle, shy as a dove
    A face that only a mother could love
    It doesn't matter what he is
    I'm HIS, HIS, HIS!

    But he's still just a voice
    What a perfect relationship
    I can't see him, he can't see me
    He calls me "Mum", he thinks I'm sixty-three
    And I'll never meet him
    And he'll never meet me
    No, he'll never meet me"

    Me? I never answer, because it's a telemarketer (even though I'm on the Do Not Call list). But if any of you called, I just might pick up! --Marjorie of Connecticut

  19. Thank you for your treatment of this wonderful subject.I'm so thankful I found you!Sorry Messages

  20. I always made my living on the telephone, first as a newspaper reporter, and then as a bond salesman, but now they are emergency equipment. I had a cell phone for two years before anyone called me on it.

  21. Oh, I have always hated the telephone, even back when it was a primary means of communication. Texting and email are so much better because they remove those ...
    awkward ...

    You guys know the ones, where you are on the phone with someone and they ... pause ... and you aren't sure if they're annoyed that you called or you said something inadvertently obnoxious.

    For some reason, texts remove that entirely. Social anxiety solved!

    Then again, I do tend to stress a little if it takes someone a while to text back ...

  22. CItrus 3-2443. That made it so easy to memorize numbers. And I remember waiting for my husband's phone call the week after we first met, wondering, waiting, wondering, and when the phone rang, the excitement on hearing it, the disappointment that it wasn't him, then turning down a date with someone else because I was sooo sure he'd call! And then he did.

    My kids will never get to feel that anticipation, which is sad. Then again, maybe they do in the silence of their cell phones. No texts received? Will he or won't he text? Is the battery charged? The signal coming in? For kids, I think it's still the same. If they really have something going on, they actually talk on the phone. That's when you know it's serious. I think.

    And Hank! Congratulations!!!

  23. The wonderful aspect of answering machines, voice mail, and texts is that you can save them, sometimes indefinitely.

    The day after my first date with my husband he left for a six-week trip. The one time he called I wasn't home, but he left such a nice message on my answering machine. When he called me the day he returned I was ready for that second date!

    When my kids are out of the country, if they call and leave a voice mail I keep it in the archive until they return. Superstition, I guess.

  24. Somehow, I've become the designated phone answerer in our house. I guess it's because the calls are usually business and I'm the one who has to answer them. When I get home, Kathy will tell me there was a call and she couldn't get to the phone. I'm amazed when that happens, but am getting used to it.

    Normally, I prefer email, but sometimes, phone is better. But now that we're "connected" 24x7, it seems like a tether that we can never escape!

  25. AL pine 9-0430 (particularly nice in Montana!)

    My phone peeve: People who just start talking – they assume you know who they are from caller ID. Well, I don’t. B/c I use a landline and don’t have caller ID. Or on my cell, I didn’t look b/c I’m busy and just grabbed the phone. Or I just want you to be polite and tell me who you are before you start talking!

  26. Yes, I ALWAYS make Jonathan answer.

    Ring ring.
    JONATHAN: The phone.
    HANK: I know. Don't answer it.
    CALLER ID: call from (so garbled you have no idea.)
    JONATHAN: We should answer it.
    HANK: Why?
    JONATHAN: I'm going to..
    HANK: Fine with me. But I'm not here.

    Hey--my captcha is Hankki!

  27. And it still kills me when someone answers the phone: "HI Hank!" Because of caller ID. I think it's creepy.

    You're supposed to say hello. What if it's someone else calling from that number, right?

  28. Congratulations, Hank! THE OTHER WOMAN is next on my list after I finish Louise Penny's latest.

  29. Congrats, Hank!!!

    And Marjorie, love the lyrics!

  30. I'm with you on that one, Hank. NOTHING irritates me more than answering with "Hello, William." It's not cute, it's not clever, and in my opinion it's both unfriendly and unprofessional. (Yes, I've had both friends and clients do that.)

    All of this this new technology has given rise to a whole new raft of ill-mannered behavior.... but that's another soapbox for another day...:)

  31. Ramona...remind me about Betty sounds so familiar...

    Marianne in Maine--thank you!

    William--yes, indeedy, we will do that!

    Marjorie--that;s so I am singing!

    And what was the Doris Day movie about the phone? With Rick Hudson? About..a party line?

  32. Robin--CItrus! See, clearly you didn't grow up in Indiana, right? We had... AnGus. And COrndog. And STatefair. And SUmmertime. (Okay, not really...)

  33. More and more my phone calls are like my mail. You know what I mean.

    Hank, congratulations... good work!

    [My captcha is hurtsMa. That's too close to reality for me today.]

  34. In the aftermath of my mother's heart attack this winter I developed a loathing for the phone. That's because it seemed like every time it rang there was another crisis--she also has Alzheimer's.

    What I love is old-fashioned letters. One of the other mothers who went to China when we adopted The Munchkin writes a few times a year. It's always such a treat to find her letters in the mailbox.

  35. I stopped answering the phone immediately a couple of years ago. I ALWAYS check the Caller ID. I WILL answer if the caller is a friend or relative. I wish that politicians and alleged charitable organizations and so-called Credit Card companies had to observe the Do Not Call laws. During the mid term elections two years ago there were so many political robocalls on my answering machine when I returned home from work that there were days when friends and relatives were unable to leave messages. Finally, my answering machine "crashed" and just refused to work anymore. I replaced it with the kind that has a voice announcing the number, not the name, of the caller.The readout shows the name of the caller along with the number, unless it is "Unknown Caller". If the number is a toll free one I assume it's a telemarketer or a politician, and I don't bother checking the readout on the machine for the name of the caller. Last fall during the mayoral elections here I received calls nearly every day from one of the candidates. I wrote to headquarters and requested to be removed from the call list. My letter was ignored. (I voted for the other candidate.)

    I have NO idea how to text and I use my cell phone only for the free long distance minutes and to call AAA. A couple of my friends always call my cell phone first,even though I have told them that I never use it. They finally realized that it's okay to call me on the landline! I am apparently one of the few people who rarely uses a cell phone!

    Oddly, although I love talking on the phone with friends and relatives I get very anxious about picking up the phone to call them. It doesn't bother me much to call a stranger,though. Perhaps that's because I worked part time as a telemarketer for three years. I hated the job but lost my shyness about talking to strangers.

    My childhood number was first 32054 and then DAvis 32054 and finally 323-2054. Then my parents started changing it every couple of years and I no longer remember any of the later numbers! I have had one phone number for all of the time that I have lived at my current address,a couple dozen years,and I am too old to change it because I don't know if I could remember a new number! I can't remember what my number was before I moved here!

    Does anyone else have wrong number callers who refuse to believe that they have called the wrong number? For a couple of years (or maybe longer) a collection agency has been calling my number and asking for a woman who has the same first name as me, but a totally different last name. One of their callers actually screamed at me at the top of his lungs that it was "about time you started to cooperate"and he implied that I was a liar.I reported him to the phone company but I was told that he managed to stay, but just barely, within the law. They call here for about six weeks at a time a few times a day aand then take a break for about a month. They are one reason I will NOT answer the phone anymore. Lately, they have been hanging up when my answering machine picks up. They now show up as Unknown Caller but I know it's them because I recognize the calling pattern. Back when they first started calling, I even offered to look up the phone number in the phone book for the screamer but he kept screaming over my voice as I was speaking. I looked them up on line and discovered that they have a terrible reputation for abusive calls and for calling people liars when they reach the wrong number!
    Captcha try number three!
    But hey...any of you can call me anytime and I will be happy to speak with you! Youcome under the category of Friends!

  36. FYI on the political calls... If your state allows early voting, do it. Most political organizations will remove names from the call lists if they know you've already voted. As we get closer to the election, they will call to make sure their supporters vote. So if you already have, a call to you is counterproductive.

    Unfortunately, there are so many different organizations making the calls (even for the same candidate/cause) that it's virtually impossible to tell them all to stop calling. Fifty more days and this cycle will be over.

  37. Deb, for about 10 years we had phone calls from the "one too many" insurance company. You know, the one who provides insurance for people with too many DUIs to get it any other way. Apparently, part of their service was to bail their insureds out, because we got so many drunk dialers asking for the owner of OTM, and always in the middle of the night, of course.

    My husband's cell phone is one number off from a local TV/electronics retailer, and he gets their calls all the time. Usually, he just gives the caller the right number, but one of the earliest (maybe the first) calls was from an IRATE man? woman? scrreeeaming that they needed their TV, because "I NEED MY PORNO!!!"

    He saved that message to listen to over and over again, until I accidentally erased it. It was hilarious.

  38. Oh my, does this topic ever "take me back"! I must confess, I have done a complete flipflop from the days when I could & would easily spend hours on the phone chatting with folks! I'm afraid I'm more like Hank.

    While I do agree with Rhys about hearing someone's voice is much more personal than email & there are people whose voice I'd rather hear, I too often find that if someone asks me when is a good time to call me on the phone---I never have an answer. I have no way of knowing in advance when I'll be able to get on the phone for a period of time & not able to do anything else.

    Particularly evenings are problematic; the quarterly fundraising drives & suchlike always catch us during dinner which does not put us in a good disposition. Plus, I really identify with Jan's "I'm tired and have used up my communication skills for the day"!

    And oh my did Deborah ever hit the nail on the head about calls from strangers becoming an intrusion. Recently our neighborhood had a bout of solicitors (despite well-posted NO SOLICITING signs throughout the subdivision) that gave us all the creeps & had quite a discussion going on our subdivision FB Group about how they seemed to be "casing" houses for later robbery, & I remember thinking that it's getting to the point where many of us will be doing the same thing with strangers at our door that I do already with the phone: almost w/o exception, if I don't recognize the Caller I.D., I don't pick up; let it go to voicemail.

    With so many folks' references to phone calls bringing bad news, I think of my sister: we were at odds for many years, but in the last decade have become close and communicate "all the time"---over email. For my sister, phone calls became harbingers of bad news so that she hates to receive a phone call and she won't make a phone call for fear of scaring the recipient that something dire has happened if she's calling on the phone!

    I do lean kind of in the direction of Hank's "email me". The great thing about email is: I can compose my email when I have the time to spend on it, when I'm thinking of whatever it is, and I don't interrupt you by calling, instead: you find the email when you have the chance to check email & you can reply when you have the chance. (In theory, anyway---I want to move to Theory: EVERYthing works in Theory.)

    But yeah: I've gone from yearning for the phone to ring so I could talk with someone, to most often yelling at the phone when it rings to go away, leave me alone! The calls always seem to come at the worst times (as I said, I don't know when is a good time, anymore).

    Is this a sign that we're getting too busy or something, that we don't have time or inclination for the equivalent of chatting over the back fence?

  39. Oh, Hank, I so resonate with what you've said on this. (And by the way, congrats again on the Boston Globe #2!) When I ran a university women's center and put on over 60 big programs and conferences a year (often in collaboration with community organizations), I also, as part of my job, sat on dozens of community organization boards. I was a reliable get-things-done person, so every time there was any kind of crisis (or feud) on any board or among organizations or with an event, I'd get lots of calls and have to calm folks down, get things done, straighten out problems, recruit last-minute help, etc. I came to dread the phone and refused to have a cell phone when they first came out because I wanted to be free of the phone every chance I could. I loved email because I could deal with things on my own schedule and have a paper trail to prove what people said/committed to/asked for.

    When I got so devastatingly sick that I had to leave my job and I hadn't been diagnosed yet and some of my doctors thought I might not live, I had constant calls from people who still wanted me to do things for them. (I couldn't even get out of bed for one period of time!) I had one woman tell me,"So-and-so had a stroke and she's still hosting us at her condo." This was supposed to shame me into getting off my lazy ass and doing what she wanted when I couldn't. I coldly pointed out that So-and-so, one of the most wealthy people in Kansas City, had a full-time housekeeper in that condo and the money to hire caterers, so she could host them and stay in bed if she needed to. I couldn't, and I wanted them to immediately remove my name from any of their materials because I'd have no part of such an organization. After that, I went to caller ID.

    When I had to get a cell phone because there were virtually no other pay phones left for emergencies, I told those few who got its number (still do) that I won't use it while driving, will ignore it if I'm with someone else. In these cases, they'll simply have to leave a message and I'll call back when I can. Many routinely still ignore what I say and will call 30 seconds apart, as if that will make me change my rules.

    I've noticed with emails that people are starting to get as antsy and demanding as with phones. They send an email and want an immediate answer, will often call after 15-20 minutes without an answer. No consideration that I may be away from the computer and totally unaware that they've emailed me about anything. I've even had them call a third party to get them to email or call to make me answer them right away--over everyday stuff. I'm starting to feel about emails the way I do about phone calls. Maybe I should just become a hermit.

    Then, I have to remind myself that phone and computer technology allows me to stay in touch with family and friends far away, who would have been lost to me without tech. The tech's not the problem--some of the people are.

  40. So funny -- over on Murderati, they're talking about telephones and communication too!

    I'm not a telephone person, never have been. It rings, I ignore it, and check voicemail later...when later? Whenever. Maybe only a few minutes later. I don't run for the phone. Never. Ever. Big NO.

    I got rid of my landline years ago, but it's funny that my usage remains about the same. Most of the time I forget to bring my cell with me, thus treating it as if it were a landline. :-)

    Now I'm going to contradict myself: Lately, I've noticed that I don't mind talking on the phone if I'm going to sit down and truly connect, which means no multitasking. But still, this is rare. Once a week, at the most.

  41. So funny -- over on Murderati, they're talking about telephones and communication too!

    I'm not a telephone person, never have been. It rings, I ignore it, and check voicemail later...when later? Whenever. Maybe only a few minutes later. I don't run for the phone. Never. Ever. Big NO.

    I got rid of my landline years ago, but it's funny that my usage remains about the same. Most of the time I forget to bring my cell with me, thus treating it as if it were a landline. :-)

    Now I'm going to contradict myself: Lately, I've noticed that I don't mind talking on the phone if I'm going to sit down and truly connect, which means no multitasking. But still, this is rare. Once a week, at the most.

  42. Okay, I love emails and texting as much as the next person, but when it comes to talking to DAUGHTERS, give me the phone. And forty minutes of empty time. Please.

  43. The political season has turned me into a phone-a-phobe. I get daily calls from the Koch Brothers. I've had callers ask me to do a poll with them, and when I answer their question on party affiliation, they hang up on me!


  44. Jeff, when I was a lot younger, I was an unaffiliated voter. None of the polling institutes were allowed to talk to us!

    In another kind of poll, I was rejected for not having cable TV. Nowadays my TV isn't even plugged in, and I don't remember the last time I even watched a DVD. I imagine I will always be a disappointment to the polling institutes. Before my three years of telemarketing hell, I briefly worked for a polling institute. Believe m, telemarketing is a LOT easier!

  45. I will put everything aside to talk to my niece whenever she calls, but otherwise, the phone is for quickly setting up appointments when needed. I've changed my phone machine message to something like "If you are a friend speak up now, and if I haven't answered by the beep, please leave a message." I got tired of rushing to the phone for "Rachel" and the "FBI reports" calls.

  46. My parents had the same number from 1930 to 1982, expanding from four digits, 3712, to five, 2-3712, to seven, ED2-3712. It was party-line till I was a teen, then the neighbor/party line complained that I hogged it, so my parents upgraded to a private line.
    Now I don't even own a land line. I kept one for several years just for faxes, but with scanners and email, I hardly ever had need for a fax.
    Kaye, I'm totally in agreement with your preference for email (and texting). It's so less intrusive. Is efficient. And I just feel more comfortable with it. Guess I'm an introvert too.

  47. My parents had the same number from 1930 to 1982, expanding from four digits, 3712, to five, 2-3712, to seven, ED2-3712. It was party-line till I was a teen, then the neighbor/party line complained that I hogged it, so my parents upgraded to a private line.
    Now I don't even own a land line. I kept one for several years just for faxes, but with scanners and email, I hardly ever had need for a fax.
    Kaye, I'm totally in agreement with your preference for email (and texting). It's so less intrusive. Is efficient. And I just feel more comfortable with it. Guess I'm an introvert too.

  48. Mary,

    I have contemplated using a similar outgoing message -but mine wouldn't be as polite as yours to the unwelcome callers! The only reason I have not yet changed my message is that I give myself a "cooling down"period when I am especially frustrated by the intrusive callers. So far I have been able to resist the temptation to record a snarky message!

  49. OH, you are all so terrific. I do agree that talking on the phone can be more..efficient. But there's got to be some way that both people can agree that it's a good time to talk.

    Maybe--emmail first?

    Kidding. Kidding.

    And don't you hate when you're talking to someone on the phone..and you hear them typing on the other end?

    Tomorrow--Lisa Unger! How fabulous...and we're giving away her new book! See you then..if you can't make it--email. Don't call!

  50. I hate talking on the phone and never do it, but that's just my anxiety. I had to answer the phone at work so that's another reason I don't like to talk on the phone. Talking too much on it made my throat sore or scratchy. I have allergies.

    We still have a home phone and answering machine and it's much better than just having a cellular phone. You can screen your calls and if someone didn't leave a message it must've not been important. I can check the answering machine at my convenience. We've had Caller I.D. for a few years, maybe five.

    Not everyone finds a regular phone and answering machine easy to use. My dad who is in his 80's has trouble with it. He always says, "Can you answer the phone?" What he means to ask is if someone can play the messages back for him. He can't remember which button to push.

    We still get wrong numbers, which is pretty bad when someone calls to say they need a ride b/c their car broke down and they call you more than once thinking they have the right number.

    I like e-mail because it doesn't involve actually talking and less fear of rejection if the person says no. Sometimes it's hard to find an important e-mail because it gets cluttered up. I don't have a computer at home so I can't keep up on my e-mail and I have more than one e-mail address.

    I hate cellular phones. You'd have to leave it on all the time (and the battery would run low) otherwise you'd miss calls. You can't tell who called unless you access your voicemail (just a fancy word for an answering machine) and they charge you for that, which sounds stupid to me. Maybe with a smart phone you can tell who called w/o accessing your voicemail? Don't know.

    Is Call Me Maybe a movie? Not too grammatical, is it?

    I don't use a cellular phone or text messages but I did figure out how to text on a flip phone. I entered a contest via text once.

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