When I was a teenager, I LIVED on the phone. My father used to joke about how it was permanently attached to my head. I can remember calling friends so that we could watch television together (over the phone). I was All Phone, All The Time.
And then the internet happened. The lovely, lovely internet.
I’m still a big fan of constant connection, but the advent of the internet changed things for me. Oh, sure—when I haven’t talked with a friend in a long time, nothing but an actual conversation will do, but in general? I much prefer email. Or chatting online.
I was trying to figure out why this is, and I realized it’s because I’m actually incredibly rude: While emailing or instant messaging I can ALSO be talking to the kids, emailing/instant messaging someone ELSE, and/or eating lunch. The multitasker in me is not interested in a singular phone conversation when I could be doing five things at once.
[Aside: Just so we’re clear—and so no one feels the need to point this out—I never claimed to do five things at once particularly WELL. I know there’s value in focusing on one thing at a time and giving it singular attention. I do. That’s why I hardly ever do anything else while I’m eating bacon.]
Anyway. I do loves me some iPhone, but mostly because I can check my email on it.
This is all preamble to explain where I stand on the usefulness of phones.
phone usefulness < online usefulness
Phones are a necessary tool, though. I’d never say otherwise. Why, when the summer schedule for the kids came down, one of the first things Otto and I did was go ahead and get a cell phone for the kids to take with them when they go with their dad.
Understand: I am NOT the kind of person who thinks kids “need” cell phones. But this was a special circumstance. We give the phone to Chickadee when the kids leave and take it back from her when they get back. All texting and downloading and such is disabled on the phone, and we programmed all of the relevant numbers she might need into the speed-dial and then told her that monsters will drop out of the ceiling and gnaw her face off if she dials any other numbers.
Because the phone is on our family plan, the caller ID defaults to the name of the plan-holder. Which is Otto.
So when the kids call us? “OTTO LASTNAME” comes up on the caller ID.
It never fails to entertain both the kids and Otto when they call and he answers the phone.
“Hello, ME!” he greets them. “I am calling myself! That’s a little odd!”
Or I’ll pick it up and say, “Otto? You’re sitting right next to me, Otto, how are you calling me on the phone??”
(What can I say? We’re easily entertained.)
So phone are good. Phones are fun! Fun with phones! Etc. I’m silly for preferring electronic communication after all!
The other night, Otto’s mom had just gotten out of surgery (she’s fine) and Otto decided to forward his cell phone calls to the home line in case anyone needed to reach us overnight. Fair enough. We got the last status report around 10:30 and went to bed.
At around 6:00 in the morning the phone rang, and I woke up enough to answer, but was very confused. Despite the fact that early morning phone calls when you have a loved one in the hospital are NEVER GOOD, I was still mostly asleep.
“Hello?” I muttered.
“Hi, I have a delivery of sdkgjh aslkth asjfhnv and I need to confirm the address as being 123 Main Street, is that correct?”
Whoever it was—a young man, sounded like—did not actually say “sdkgjh aslkth asjfhnv,” but I hadn’t caught it all, possibly because my brain was trying VERY VERY HARD to go to back to sleep.
“What?” I said, ever the picture of grace and decorum. “You have what, now?” In the back of my brain, I was thinking about how we’re having a rug shipped here by some weird third-party trucking company I’ve never heard of, and thinking maybe this was the truck driver, calling to confirm a delivery for later that morning.
“Yes, I have a pizza delivery for Otto Lastname I need to confirm. Four large pizzas. I just wanted to make sure I had the right address, let’s see, is that 123 Main Street?” The voice was friendly and conversational, and it would’ve been a perfectly normal interaction if not for the fact that a stranger was calling first thing in the morning, insisting my husband had ordered four large pizzas, and was now trying to get me to confirm our home address for him.
I woke up.
“You have… PIZZA??”
“Yes, ordered by Otto Lastname, four large pizzas. 123 Main Street for delivery, right?”
Otto was peering at me from under his pillow.
“You are calling me at SIX IN THE MORNING about PIZZA? SERIOUSLY?”
Still chipper and utterly unaffected by my rising ire, the voice responded, “Yes, I just need to confirm the address. Is 123 Main Street correct?”
“Where are you calling from?” I demanded, because I was still just sleepy enough that that seemed like a logical thing to say, as if perhaps Papa Johns was having a computer problem and we were not being crank-called by (most likely) one of Otto’s students.
The kicker here is that because Otto was forwarding his cell phone to our home phone, we have no idea which number was dialed. It came up on caller ID as “unavailable,” of course, so no help there.
But I have to tell you that the only more disturbing than being woken out of a sound sleep to be informed that my husband ordered a bunch of pizza is having that same cheerful person try to get me to tell him our address. CREEPY.
This may be why I prefer email. There’s just no spam filter on my PHONE.