Don't call me…and I won't call you…

I am avoiding making a phone call. This is familiar ground for me. The dreaded phone.

Phones were my nemesis for years. There was a time in my life where I just *couldn’t* make phone calls. Not even for pizza…and I really like pizza. I used to pawn off all the phone calling and answering duties to one of (actually, all of) my ex-husbands. This is one really good reason to marry an extrovert. Come to think of it…it’s one of the few good reasons to marry at all. I sometimes think that each marriage lasted at least a year beyond its “best before” date because I didn’t want to make my own phone calls. Now that I’m with fellow introvert Joe, dodging the phone is not quite so simple. It involves either rock-paper-scissors or serious bartering (but only for other phone call or people approaching duties – sexual favours have no value in these negotiations).

I’m always delighted and amazed when I discover that other people actually share some of my insecurities. This one in particular, because I always felt a lot of misfittedness around it. Tell someone you have a fear of public speaking or snakes or Kermit the Frog and you’ll get a lot of “oh, me too”s. But, really, who’s afraid of phones?

A few weeks ago we had dinner with friends. One of them comes across as *so* damned together that she scares me. (She scares Joe, too, he just doesn’t like to admit it). She has no trouble with confrontation, speaking her mind or asking for what she wants – in a very nice, very polite, yet very intense direct way. She’s organized, efficient, smart and oh-so capable. So here we are at dinner and she admits…wait for it…that she *hates* to make phone calls. Hates it! Avoids it! Pushes the task off to her husband any chance she gets. You could have knocked me off my chair (not from surprise so much as from the amount of wine I had consumed).

I always knew I wasn’t the only person with phone issues. I once worked with a woman who would let her desk phone ring and go to voice mail. It’s not like she could work through it or anything. It would disrupt her concentration and she would just sit there and stare at it until it stopped ringing. Then she would immediately pick up the message, then *email* a response to the caller. Brilliant! I thought. But I kept my admiration secret, because the other folks in the office (damned extroverts!) used to make fun of her for doing this. A weird mixed message: Yes, there were others out there like me. Unfortunately, they are to be ridiculed. Not liking to talk on the phone was not OK.

For the most part, I’m now capable of making phone calls. At least the talking part. The physical operation of dialing a modern phone is another story. I had the dialling thing down pat back when phones had dials (and they were attached to walls and had cords). Now that they have cameras and email and texting and really, really small buttons with cute (but completely inscrutable) little icons, I’m lost. I can’t operate my own cell phone. I’m not exaggerating. I forget how to turn it on and I have to ask Joe to do it for me…would it kill them to put a simple on/off switch on the damned thing? And what about bigger buttons? And while I’m bitching and moaning asking for things, how about a phone that’s *only* a phone…so I don’t end up accidentally making more stupid movies starring my shoes or the inside of my pocket?


  1. Carrie on December 2, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    My mom, my sister and I are all alike in this, I think.

    I am paranoid about picking up the phone. At least with the Internet or texting you can edit yourself and sound at least half-brilliant, right? Can’t do that with the phone.

    Mom lets our stepdad handle phone calls. And he might call every few months. I only talk to Mom in person now on visits.

    My sister does not like the phone either unless she’s texting on it.
    And she’s a natural with people. She just dreads talking on the phone.

  2. Barbara Sher on December 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    ROFLMAO! Except I wish my microcellphone’s video was as easy to use as yours.

    Keep ’em coming. You’re a treat.

  3. Elissa on December 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Phonophobes, discover texting. I didn’t see it coming, but texting has allowed me to have a live written exchange with my mom in law, who is a true phonophobe, as well as generally tripled the daily communication with my husband.

    For my own fears, have a mail-o=phobia. Truly, if it has to be boxed and mailed, I will give you fifty dollars instead to avoid mailing a box. When Patty N mailed me stuff I left at retreat, it was like a miracle to me that anyone would do this.

    So, I’ll keep the cellphones and amazon in biz…

    Patty K, get a grannyphone, just numbers and on and off written in big letters, that’s it!

  4. […] a private entrance in case we wanted to come or go unseen. We each had a private washroom. We had NO PHONES. We may or may not have thought to design a common meeting […]

  5. Joe on June 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm