Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Phone problems

I hate the phone. Seriously, I have issues with it, and it's not even rational, but there's nothing I can do about it.

For starters, I hardly ever have my cell phone turned on. This drives my wife crazy, but I honestly just don't remember to turn it on, because getting a phone call is the last thing that I think about. When I do think to turn it on, I have it on silent, as I hate the idea of being in the middle of someplace and having it ring. Actually, not so much in the middle of some place, but in the middle of doing something. I can't stand watching people talk on their cells while they're in line at the grocery checkout counter, and I don't want to be like them. So, I leave it on silent.

So, the only reason that I ever have it on is because my wife wants it on in case she needs to get a hold of me. Don't get me wrong - my wife isn't one of those people who calls me all the time to update me on everything that's going on. (Ironically enough, even though it would drive me crazy, if she were like that I'd probably be more likely to remember to switch it on.) If it wasn't for that, I'd just let the voicemail pick up any calls. When I'm out and about I'm out and about. I don't like the idea of people being able to reach me wherever I am. Perhaps that's strange, but usually when I am out of the house, I'm having a bit of "me" time, and I don't want it disturbed.

I also don't answer the phone while I'm at home, unless it's from somebody in my immediate family (most of the time). I figure if it's important, they can leave a message. Why don't I just answer it? Because I'm always in the middle of something. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to break his concentration. Yesterday I was making a DVD for my class, and it's a long process. Even if a family member called, I still don't think that I would have picked it up. Other times, I might be in the middle of a movie. Now, when I sit down to watch a movie, it's because I want to watch a movie. I don't just put them in to pass the time. I don't do much of anything just to pass the time, so I don't like being interrupted.

I hate making phone calls too. When my dad leaves a message, I always call him back, but I have to sit in front of the phone for a few minutes before I can actually pick it up and start dialing. I usually check my email or read some stuff online, bracing myself for the phone call. No, it's not that my conversations with my dad are unpleasant. In fact, I'm always happy to have talked to him once I get off the phone. (Same goes for my mother or my sisters.) There's just something about a phone call - it simply drains me, whether it's a pleasant conversation or not. It's like I have set aside some space in my mind's schedule for a phone call the same way that I'd set aside time for yardwork, going to the store, etc. (Or perhaps I'm strange simply because I'm scheduling things in my mind, and that's the root of the problem.)

When I was having problems with my satellite, I was almost willing to continue having the problems because I simply hated being on the phone with customer service. Being on hold is one of the most frustrating things for me, and having to deal with those automated systems is even worse. If they're recording those calls, they no doubt hear a very frustrated-sounding person on the other line.

When I was sixteen, I worked as a telemarketer. I did it for one hour, and I quickly began to lose the will to live. So what did I do? I simply got up and walked out. I then went home and told my parents that I either did the smartest or the dumbest thing in my life. Turns out it was smart, because these telephone issues weren't even all that bad back then. If you put a gun up to my head and told me to either make telemarketing calls or be shot, I'd honestly have to give it some thought. (Not a lot - I'd choose to live, of course. Still, I'd probably have a slightly longer pause than a normal person would.)

Recently, my union has asked for people to do some phone banking for the upcoming election. (People in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District - vote for Sherry Whitmarsh and Gary Eberhart for the school board!) I've done a bit of volunteering for union things before - protests (not sure if that's the right word - demonstrations? I held a sign. Kinda like a strike, but we weren't on strike), passing out fliers, and a few other things. This though - phone banking? I even start to consider it and my face turns flush and I start to sweat. Seriously. Crap, I can feel my hearbeat speed up as I type this.

Very strange, I know. I can't explain it, justify it, or rationalize it. Maybe it's because when I was little and my parents and I were walking through a dark alley after seeing a movie (or maybe it was the opera?) a telephone came up and shot both of my parents right before my eyes. Perhaps...


Kirsti said...

I didn't just get you a cell phone so I could get a hold of you. In fact, I hate talking on the phone just as much as you do, so it is definitely not a way of me having you on some sort of "leash". It is also for emergencies...if your car breaks down, etc. You have called me lots of times on your cell phone when you've been out and have needed a quick answer to something.

Phones suck. I understand. One day, though, you just may be happy that you have one.

Ingrid said...

Lance, I feel a bit like you, but if it weren't for the phone, I couldn't talk to you, and that would make me sad. What I hate is answering machines. I hardly ever leave a message, because when I need to talk to people, it is right then. I won't tell them to call back, because I don't know where I am going to be, and I don't want to play telephone tag with people. I don't have a cell phone and I don't want one either. If I don't answer the phone I am obviously not home. That's where I make my phone calls.

Eileen said...

I totally see why you didn't do phone banking.
I did it, but I'm totally different. I LOVE cold-calling strangers. Nothing gives me more pleasure than getting a list in front of me of people I don't know and then calling them, introducing myself, and trying to tell them why they should vote for two people they couldn't give less of a fuck about.
I get off on it, but that's me. The few other people who were there expressed similar sentiments: they couldn't wait to give up their Thursday nights (and miss Game 2 of the World Series) so they could stump for Gary and Sherry.
I also love getting shots, going to the dentist, and grading essays; that's why I don't fight it when it's time to do those things.
Some things I will NOT do: eat ice cream, drink beer, or watch porn. Those are just not my things, and no amount of cajoling or prompting will get me to do them. It's just the way I've always been; I don't know why.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, "Eileen."

Obviously, nobody likes the idea of phone banking. But imagine if you could couple it with the fact that you hate being on the phone - period.

Again, I did say that it wasn't rational. But honestly, I'd rather take a punch in the face than phone bank.

Nolan said...

Ha! I didn't realize I was logged in as her until I saw your reply. I'm going to have to start blaming more shit on her.