Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A little 411

Is there anything which epitomizes modern life more then the telephone? I loved the comments from Theresa and Lisa on my last entry about telephoning. I know exactly what they mean.

I have an absolute love/hate relationship with telephones. I probably wouldn't have a career if it weren't for the telephone, but there is nothing that fills me with more dread. I love my Bluetooth earpiece. Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, I feel safer with it, yet regret that I feel like I need it. Do I really have to be so accessible? Can the office, a client, the daughter not wait until I can be stationary? Is our world so unsafe now that being without a phone for even a quick run to the grocery doesn't feel right? So many things can go wrong so suddenly, and with my phone, I have the illusion that I'm not alone, that help will be on the way if it's needed. One of my memories of 9/11 was having to call friends and family. The phone was how I knew we were still together and still safe, despite our distances from each other and the immediate horror of the day.

In the evening, after a long day, there's nothing I dread more than the sound of the telephone ringing. My mind immediately responds, "Who is it now, and what do they want from me?" There's such relief when a young voice is on the other end, "Is C. there?" I was never like that when I was young. Maybe it comes from having been raised by parents who grew up in the Depression, but the telephone was viewed as something for necessities only.

The rules were known. You only called home from school if you were sick. You only called Dad at work when you needed him to bring something home from his grocery store. You made arrangements over the phone, agreed on where, when, what was appropriate to wear and what to bring. The actual socialization was done in person. The only exceptions were the holiday phone calls to relatives, where you wished them a happy holiday and chatted for minute or two, always aware of it being long distance. Real communication took place in letters when geography was inconvenient. The omnipresent telephone was truly a paradigm shift.

The telephone insinuated itself into my work when work was still a secondary goal. As a college student, I worked my dorm's switchboard on a midnight shift several nights a week. The hours were perfect for a young and energetic night owl, and I learned through my hourly contacts with the Campus Safety and Security Department that I had a heck of a phone voice. Every campus cop had to drop by my dorm to put a face to my voice at least once. That's when I started grooming my vocal presence. Though aging and smoking have deepened my voice, I know people still enjoy hearing me speak.

At work, knowing what to say over the phone still comes easily because we're dealing with factual information, the necessity only stuff that was drilled into me a long time ago. The pleasantries slide in easily enough. The commiseration over busy days, the questions about the few personal details we know of each other -- the new baby, the recent vacation -- are a moment's respite where we're humans and not just our job functions. The true personal call though is something else.

I never know what to say. I stumble over words and fill my conversation with umms, and ahhs. I think about the sheer dorkiness of what I just said. I wonder if they get what I meant despite the inanities that came out of my mouth. My vocabulary, use of language and sometimes my higher brain functions just disappear when I'm faced with talking about more than what, where, when and how over the phone. I'm hopelessly out of sync with the world around me.

I'm just a dinosaur who stumbled over a keyboard and a DSL modem one day. I'll fill the telephone wires like everyone else around me, but I'll do it here where my words can be seen, where the stuttering that comes with discussing whys and what ifs can be deleted, where my thoughts might actually seem to flow instead of fall. I'll also understand why my phone doesn't ring for the pleasure of friendship. I still know where to find you.



Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Maybe that's why you have a better relationship with the invention than I do...I've never been in love with the sound of my speaking voice. I've never even been temted to do an "audio entry" on my blog...

Yes, you know where to find me, and I you... But it would still feel more like a real friendship if it could be expressed in some other medium as well... Virtual friendships are too...virtual.

February 21, 2007 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Gavin said...

I never really like the bill that comes at the end of the month. If you're looking for a cheaper way to call places. Google has come cool tricks out there (search it), plus Onesuite is an amazing phone service that integrates the web and cheap calling. They can't help the sound of your voice though. Either you like to hear yourself talk or you don't.

February 21, 2007 10:49 AM  
Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

I don't have a cell phone. I am holding out as long as I can.

February 21, 2007 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

I'm with you on the whole telephone thing. I mean, I loved the invention of caller id, except that the problem with it, is that although it tells me who's calling, it usually tells me I don't want to talk to whoever it is that is actually calling. LOL
Thanks for an entertaining post!

February 21, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

ON 9/11 in this area cell phones were useless. All the lines were on overload. I have loved the phone since a teen, I had my own teen line with the pink princess phone with the lit up dial. OH my. The conversations I had on that baby. I just got the hot pink Razor with bluetooth earpiece. Not the best reception but I love the convenience. I find I get dozens of calls on my cell phone a day now, work related. A blessing and a curse.

February 21, 2007 6:59 PM  
Anonymous andrena said...

thank God for answering machines....*giggling*

February 21, 2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

I feel nothing but dread when I hear a telephone. I remember when I was a teenager, I loved talking to my best friend and later Allen (then my boyfriend) for minutes that ran into hours. I can't recall exactly when my joy turned to dread, but at a certain point I began to freeze when talking to just about anyone. It gets worse the older I get. It is very rare now for me to dial a number and call anyone. I think blogging was a godsend for me, giving me a way to connect that feels right.

February 22, 2007 1:42 AM  
Blogger Shelina said...

You explained my aversion to the phone completely. I see people who have cell phones growing out of their ears, and am awed. I know I wouldn't be able to think of what to say for that long.

February 26, 2007 12:08 PM  

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