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Phone Etiquette ~ a P.S.A. April 10, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Less IS More, People, Word Play.
52 comments

There are two types of people.

No, not alive or dead ~ that’s for snakes.  For people, the breakdown is between those who enjoy chatting on the phone and those who don’t.

Those who enjoy chatting on the phone snatch the receiver when it rings, not caring who is at the other end of the line.  It is someone to talk to about something . . . or other.

Those who don’t enjoy chatting on the phone screen their calls, using Caller I.D. for preferred callers and the answering machine for everyone else.

In our home, preferred caller status is limited to family and friends we talk to on a regular basis ~ in short, people who already know we don’t like chatting on the phone just to kill time.

If a preferred caller is calling, I know they must have a question or concern that absolutely positively requires my immediate input . . . even if I’m dripping wet from the shower.

For everyone else, including salesmen, fundraisers, people who need favors, and I.R.S. auditors, there’s the answering machine . . . Please Leave A Message At The B*E*E*P!

Now that we’re clear on that, let’s move on to the P.S.A. ~ the phone screening announcement:

#1 ~ Rather self evident, but let’s spell it out anyway.  If you have time to kill and want to spend it chatting on the phone, please do NOT call me.

#2 ~ Do not put my number on speed dial where you might accidentally butt dial it and interrupt my meditation, musing, writing, or lint-picking time.

#3 ~ If you call and get the answering machine, please don’t assume that I am “out and about” and will call you back on my return if all you say is, “Hey, this is Ronald McDonald.  Give me a call.”

I am NOT out and about.  I’m sitting right there listening to you.  Leave a message.  I am not picking up because you are not on my preferred caller list.  Leave a message.  Your name on Caller I.D. is NOT enough, standing alone, to make me pick up the receiver.  Leave a message.

In short, I want to know WHY you are calling so I can decide whether we have anything to talk about:

* If you are calling on Sunday morning to invite me to church, the answer is NO.  And it’s not because I will spontaneously combust if I step into a church.  It’s because I am happier as a heathen.

* If you are calling mid-week because you want me to go shopping with you, the answer is NO.  If you don’t know what to buy without my input, you probably don’t need it anyway.

* If you are calling to tell me I won the lottery, or dinner for two, or a car, or free Blockbuster movies, please leave a message.  I may want to talk to you, but I want to know that you are “for real.”

* If you are calling “just to chat” . . . please see #1 (above).

In my experience, when someone who is not on my preferred caller list calls and merely identifies themselves by name and number, it’s because they want something from me.

And they instinctively know it’s not something that I want to do.

If they were calling to invite me to Happy Hour, or to go sailing,  parasailing, kayaking, or biking, they would say so.

When they don’t say WHY they are calling, I know they are calling to dump an onerous burden on my shoulders and they want to catch me “off guard.”

Instead of leaving a detailed message asking me to join their half-baked fundraising idea on behalf of 2-toed sloths with cognitive issues, they just leave their name and number . . . and expect me to call back unawares.

They don’t want to tip their hand or give me time to think up a socially acceptable excuse.  They want to put me “on the spot” and spring it on me in a way that increases the likelihood that I will say “yes” even if I desperately want to say “no.”

That strategy may work with some of the people some of the time, but it no longer works with me.  When I call back (assuming I call back), I give them the old, “Hmm . . . let me think about it and get back with you.”

If they insist on an immediate answer, or get all push-y and shove-y, acting as if they should get a vote in how I spend my free time, I just say “no.”

Without guilt.  Without remorse.  Without sputtering.

After all, if they can’t bother to follow these simple guidelines for phone etiquette, why should I care what they think?

Quote:  Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  ~ Dr. Seuss

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you enjoy chatting on the phone, or would you prefer to keep conversations to the bare minimum.

If someone you barely know calls and leaves only name and number, does it annoy you that they didn’t say WHY they were calling?