Telephone Rules of Engagement

27 01 2009

I think I’ve turned into a phone snob.

I pride myself on not having owned a cell phone for a few years now. While I dislike Qwest as a company, I’m amused by their latest ads declaring, “Long live the land line,” where kids find themselves enthralled by a phone that never needs charging and that doesn’t have limited minutes. While there are definitely times when having a cell phone makes more sense (we did borrow a phone in case of a roadside emergency on our recent trip) I’m usually glad to be free of having one. Plus, I live in a place where cell phone reception is poor.

When I did have a cell phone, I found myself not answering it most of the time. Even if the caller was someone with whom I wanted to speak, it was usually an inopportune moment. I like talking on the phone, but only if my environment is noise- and distraction-free. This invariably led to the complaint, “Why don’t you ever answer your cell phone?” to which I would usually reply, “You misunderstand; my cell phone is for MY convenience, not yours.”

Now, blissfully rid of the cell phone, I suddenly find myself dealing with the reality that, in a town like Pine Haven, literally any phone call I might want to make (outside of Pine Haven, where I know virtually no one) is going to ring up a long distance bill. I’ve figured out how to send text messages from email, and so usually, if I need to reach a family member, I send a text to their cell phone (they all live on their phones) and ask them to call me since they get free long distance.

We bought an answering machine a while back. It was the cheapest one at Wal-Mart, ringing in at something like $14.95. It seems a rather archaic piece of equipment since everyone nowadays uses voicemail, but a landline seems pretty archaic itself.

Since bringing the answering machine home, I am realizing that I now revert to my old telephone rules of engagement. Though I’m home a lot, the answering machine always screens my calls. There’s no Caller ID here, so I listen to the start of each message to hear who’s calling, and then make a snap judgement whether to answer or not. If it’s family calling and I’m at home, I almost always answer to avoid having to text them later. If it’s a sales call, let them talk to the tape. I don’t have money to spend on anything, I don’t care what they’re selling.

But I think I’m the strangest when listening to messages left while I was away. When I had a cell phone, I was always careful to specify in my greeting to leave a “detailed message,” and I meant it. When someone simply says, “Hi, this is So-and-So, call me back,” that gives me no information whatsoever. So many questions come to mind. If a person doesn’t tell me the purpose for their call, I have no way to evaluate the call’s importance to me personally. Sure, maybe they just wanted to chat. But it could be so much worse. They might be calling to invite me to an Amway meeting. They might need help moving. How would I know? I can’t tell if it’s a phone call I didn’t want to miss or if it’s a phone call I would have avoided like the plague.

I mentioned to Liesl’s cousin Gabe this past weekend. He laughed and observed that his greeting should say something to the effect of, “Don’t bother leaving a message, because I’ll never hear it anyway.”

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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11 responses

27 01 2009
Mom2

I am SO with you! I hardly ever answer my cell phone. There are times when I don’t want to be reached! But the darn thing is pretty convenient in specific circumstances. I’m trying to be better about leaving it on and picking up now that I have some family that tries to get a hold of me there (no charge to phone) versus my land line (charge to their phone). And, except for the annoying voice (we’ve tried and tried to turn the sound off and just have the visual display) I love having caller ID.

27 01 2009
Wesley

Uhm… I would die without my cell phone. Die.

Quite sad? Yes… I really think so.

27 01 2009
Rob in Gallup

LOL, Wesley. My family is the same way. I will admit, though, if I had an iPhone and lived in a 3G area, my internet addiction would revolve around my phone.

27 01 2009
Emily Straw

I am pretty strict on my rule of no calls while I am taking a nap. So I tell people that if they call me between 1 and 4 and I don’t pick up, leave a message but if it’s important call twice. 🙂 I’m always a sucker a text message though! 🙂

27 01 2009
dziewczyna

This made me laugh! I am a land line girl all the way. We use skype for all our long distance. I screen all my calls and usually only answer family or necessity (business) calls. I think if I lived close to all of my family, I would throw my phone away.

And I can vouch for the fact that Gabe never listens to his answering machine. ;o)

27 01 2009
Rob in Gallup

Katie, we used to use Skype exclusively. I would use it here in a heartbeat if our internet connection could handle it. Maybe if we move into town and get DSL instead of satellite, I’ll be able to make good use of Skype again.

28 01 2009
Emily Straw

Did I mention that I am THRILLED that you are blogging regularly again?? 🙂

28 01 2009
Terri

I talk and text on my cell to my friends because it is alot easier and plus I don’t use the phone that is hooked up to the land line at my house, even though my family does, plus my cell phone is my main phone.

28 01 2009
Mom2

Hey, If you move into town and start using skype again, do you have a camera so we can see the kids???? That would be beyond exciting!

28 01 2009
Rob in Gallup

Mom2, yes indeed. It’s the same one I was using at BG Mudd, but the internet connection at the Strob has too much of a delay (they call it latency) to handle streaming voice or video. If we move into town and get Qwest, it’s still not a very fast connection but it doesn’t have the latency of satellite, so Skype should work for both phone and video.

23 09 2009
Andrew MLM Newbie

tell me about amway?

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