If The Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me. ~Song title by Jimmy Buffet
They always say (don't this sound like a cliché, though!) that confession is good for the soul. In some cases, maybe it is good for more than that. So, here goes: I really don't like to talk on the telephone. There. I said it. Don't know just when this dawned on me, but it has been there for a good while……funny, I don't feel any better for having said it. Maybe later.
Here's the thing. I spent a lot of time on phones during my working life, especially the ten years I spent as an investigator for the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, and the years I spent as a Telephonic (I guess that might just say a little bit right there, huh?) Case Manager. To make matters worse those last nearly four years also involved being lied to by just about everyone I talked to on the phone, so you can see I might just be a bit leery of using the damn thing.
But, you know, I think it goes deeper than that. When I grew up, we didn't always have a phone in the house, and our parents' generation had a totally different attitude toward not only general phone use, but proper telephone etiquette. Their generation used to have to pay for most calls by the time used, and/or had to depend on mostly party lines, where several households might share the same line, so there was always a rush to complete a phone call, in order to avoid tying up that line. Therefore, the natural standing order in our household was that personal phone calls were limited to three minutes (I really don't know why this was the magic number, but that is what it was; maybe, in the truly old days, the first three minutes were free, and then Ma (grandma?) Bell started charging?). Then, again, maybe this just has to do with the fact that studies have shown that the average phone call does indeed (and has forever) last(ed) only three minutes.
I know that a lot of folks will find this hard to believe, but do you know that you can indeed finish most conversations in less than three minutes? Yes, you really can! I know that there are folks who can spend an hour or more easily, but the sides of those conversations that I have heard are mostly about nothing, with a serious amount of repetition thrown in. Worse, and here is where my wife really shines, I have seen her spend a whole day with her mother or her sister, and then come home and call them on the phone, and still talk for an hour! Wonder what they did all day long, while they were together………
As you may have heard before, I spend a lot of time on the computer, and that means online. I long ago learned to use, and to appreciate the use of, email. It can be as detailed as you might want it to be, or as short and sweet as a couple of words, maybe with some emoticons thrown in for good measure. (I hardly ever use emoticons, since I think they are a strange affectation, and no, I didn't use the old style keyboard creations, either). But, email does it for me. Creating a message, and receiving replies within minutes is – to me – pretty cool. I get that nice warm, fuzzy feeling of being in close contact with someone important to me, and that is enough to keep me going.
I expect that I will continue to make do very well without giving in to texting or tweeting, or whatever the next big social network thing might turn out to be (or, is more likely already spreading around the globe, but I don't know it 'cause I'm still stuck back here liking email). And, that's OK. As a matter of fact, it is pretty good. Although I have noticed lately that some folks seem to already be abandoning email as a primary method, or even a casual method of communication. I say that because I recently sent out some blanket emails to everyone in my address book, partly as a test, and mostly to inform all of those folks of some plans that I had. Part of that message informed all and sundry that their failure to respond to my message in some manner or form would result in their being deleted from my address book. I did in fact dump some folks, and so far nothing disastrous has occurred as a result. So, maybe I did a good thing.
Any way I look at it, I can say that telephoning as a means of communication isn't my favorite, and video conferencing is no better. A big part of this may well be the fact that – with my lousy internet connection – Skype no longer works for me, and our landline is really poor quality. This has caused all phone calls to be such a chore as to be more trouble than they're worth, simply because it is so hard to understand and to be understood with a bad connection. So, after all that, if it is all the same to you, please send me an email, and I'll get right back to you……….Now, I just hope that my family is reading this, and understands why I don't call.