I have made a resolution to do one simple thing that will, in one stroke, improve both my productivity and my personal life.
I am going to start talking on the phone again.
My transfer to a chat-free existence was a subtle and gradual decline. But these days, no one calls me on our landline except for the Democratic National Committee, the National Committee of Democrats, the Committee of Democrats (National), and Rand Paul 2016. Everyone else calls me on my cell phone, which I don’t answer because it is either
- stuffed in my purse and muted because I’m somewhere it shouldn’t ring, or
- at home docking in my kitchen, where I won’t hear it even if the ringer is on.
But the truth is, even if my phone is right next to me and rings, I look at it, see who’s calling, and do one of two things:
- not answer because I don’t recognize the number.
- not answer because I do recognize the number.
#2 is because I can’t talk at the moment, although that is something I freely interpret. Reasons I might not be able to talk include sitting at my computer, walking down the street, or having somewhere to be later that day. I know why they’re calling, I think, so I’ll call back when I’m done being so very very busy.
And then I do not call back, because I’ve forgotten that they’ve called at all. People leave me voice mails, but they might just as well heave a message-filled bottle into the Indian Ocean, because the chance I will retrieve either of those messages is about even. Why listen to voice mail? It’s always just messages to call back, and now I have wasted thirty seconds listening to something I knew I was supposed to do anyway, having already seen that you called.
Not that I do call back.
I have a running Workflowy list of phone calls I need to make or return, and once a week I resolve to do nothing until I get through that list of phone calls. But after making one or two calls, speaking to no one, and leaving voice mails to call me back, I click over to Facebook with shaking hands, where I can comment on other people’s cat photos both quickly and without obligation.
The other morning my cell phone rang while I was getting dressed. I didn’t recognize the number, and decided not to answer because I was busy putting my shirt on. Then I reconsidered. I mean, I could use the speaker phone and button up at the same time. So I answered on the 4th ring, and it was my son’s camp counselor, calling to tell me they were going on a field trip that day and my son was the only one without permission to go.
“I tried you a few times,” he said. “I left you a couple of voice mails.” Which, yeah, I guess he may have. I mean, I do have Google Voice transcribe all my voice mails and text them to me, since I hate voice mail so much. But all I got out of that transcript was that camp had called, and my kid was with me at the time, so I figured they were just calling to say how wonderful he was. Or something.
Anyway, thank goodness I answered the phone, because Connor got to go on his field trip, and if he had to spend the day in the infirmary while all his friends were mini-golfing I’m not sure he’d have ever forgiven me.
Later that day, I was using my cell phone while walking down the street (to check Facebook, natch). I received a Facebook message from an old and dear friend, telling me that after YEARS of the pain of infertility, her daughter will be born this November. “No way!!” I Facebook-messaged back. “Can you believe it?!” she Facebook-messaged back, a block later.
Then it occurred to me. She was clearly able to communicate right at that moment. As was I.
Reader, I CALLED HER. And she answered.
We talked for less than ten minutes, but we laughed and cried and said “I love you” and it was a conversation that I will always treasure.
I have my phone next to me right now. If someone calls me I’m going to put aside my introverted nature, my silly ideas about productivity, and actually answer.
Heck, maybe I’ll call my college roommate while I’m at it.
Do you still talk on the phone?