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The unanswered phone


There was a time I’d get excited when the phone rang, especially if it was my best friend, Sue, calling with juicy details of some high school cheerleader’s romance gone south. Granted, that was before anyone knew to use “cell” and “phone” in the same sentence.

These days, there is no excitement when the phone rings – the ID on our landline reveals the caller. And boy, some callers just don’t give up. Like the Red Cross, as much good as they do.

My daughter gave blood – once. Apparently, fine people at that well-known institution of giving won’t stop calling until they can poke her with another needle, draining her of whatever type blood she has. But too bad for you, Red Cross, she’s in college and I’m not giving out her number.

Some organization by the name of “LetsHelpOut” calls several times a day. Are they trying to guilt me into picking up the phone? I doubt they want me to help out in a nice way by dropping off canned goods at the YMCA or delivering meals to homebound senior citizens. They probably want me to send them a few bucks. But guess what, LetsHelpOut, I don’t contribute money over the phone. So stick that one in the list of phone numbers some software program created based on zip code, income, number of pets in the household, eye color, shopping habits at Home Depot or whatever criteria is used to call people while they are watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

There’s also MSU, CMU and Wayne State – they call a lot, asking for money, of course. But since aforementioned daughter is a sophomore at one of those schools, we already contribute at the rate of four million dollars a credit hour, so thank-you, thanks for thinking of us, it feels nice to be included, but no. We gave at the office.

My son has a very persistent friend who when he can’t get through to our son on his cell phone, calls our landline. He doesn’t give up until someone picks up the phone. I used to answer but when he’s persistent like that I know he’s been grounded from using his car and wants my son to give him a ride to school.

Dude, I’m on to you. Give it up.

My mother-in-law’s cell registers as private on the ID – so whenever I see that displayed, I know it’s her. But lately, others have taken on the identity of private caller and I am deeply disappointed when it’s some clown trying to raise money for the state police ball or fireman’s fund or the other way around – maybe it’s the fireman who have the ball, the police, a fund – oh, it’s all so confusing!

What about the strange calls from area codes I’ve never seen and cities and states where I don’t know a soul?

Los Angeles, CA – was Jodie Foster calling to come out as Mel Gibson’s girlfriend?

Mt. Vernon in NA – The only Mt. Vernon I know is in VA – Virginia.

Marketing Inc. from area code 631 – yet another survey, I’m sure.

989, the area code of my husband’s family’s cottage – maybe I should have answered that one.

Kenneth Sykes from area code 407 – sounds like the name of a Project Runway contestant.

I received a call from Washington D.C. this morning. Why would anyone from Washington D.C. call me? Is President Obama looking for advice on the debt crisis? Or John Boehner, support?

Too bad they called while I was blow-drying my hair. Otherwise, I might have answered the phone.

What calls don’t you answer?

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May 15, 2013 - 4:07 am

in pursuit - I pretty much answer no calls what so ever. People who want to get a hold of me only call my cell phone. It’s actually kind of sad to be honest. I never asked people to only call my cell. I think we are all just so interested in being efficient that it makes more time sense to go right for the cell. Even my 95 year old grandma calls me cell. She leaves a message. Then she calls my house. And leaves a message. Then my cell. To leave a message telling me she left a message on my cell and house phone but of course “no pressure’ to call her back. Just when I “have a minute to spare.” But again, no pressure;)

May 15, 2013 - 1:17 pm

Pam Houghton - Hi Vicki – that’s a good point about people calling the cell to be more “efficient.” Actually, I’d still prefer to talk on our land line as the reception is more reliable. Sometimes, talking on a cell sounds like an echo chamber; but not the good old-fashioned land line. Cute story about your Grandma. (That will be me one day.) Thanks for stopping by.

May 18, 2013 - 12:16 am

Anonymous - Your blog reinforced what I already know… verbal communication is dying. I think it is very sad that you have to avoid picking up the phone because of telemarketers. On a more serious note, if we don’t start talking to each other again, we are going lose a very important skill.

May 18, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Pam Houghton - Texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – these are the ways we talk now! Some might say it supplements face-to-face communication but I can see how it is tempting to make it our primary way to communicate. So you have a very valid point! Thanks for stopping by.

May 20, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Susan Hemingway - I only answer numbers I know, essentially people that I want to talk to. Otherwise, leave a message if it’s that important. I will usually listen to messages right away just in case it’s someone that needs me and I didn’t recognize the number. What I want to know is why no one stops by and has coffee anymore or meets for coffee to have face to face contact. Anonymous is right. We are losing our ability to have verbal communication and we do we don’t talk right. I don’t think we’re helping our kids to learn how to express themselves adequately

May 20, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Pam Houghton - When I started freelancing several years ago, I thought most of my work would be handled through online communication. And while a lot of it is, I found myself needing to get out and TALK to people. There’s nothing that can replace face-to-face contact…I also found people really get to know you better that way and with multiple meetings. It really takes TIME to develop relationships, both personally and professionally. Thanks for your comment, Susan!

May 29, 2013 - 1:36 am

Cindy L - Great post, Pam! Lately I’ve been answering telemarketers just so I can ask them to PLEASE remove my name and number from their call list. It seems to be helping, somewhat.

I also notice people don’t chat on the phone as often as they email each other. Or they communicate with little bytes on Facebook. Generally speaking, I think we’re over-connected — and we’re spread so thinly in so many activities that we’re burned out more easily. After a long day on the computer, or out in the world, I rarely want to sit on the phone and talk at the end of the day.

That said, I have a friend who rarely uses email and still prefers the phone. She will chat for an hour on the phone. But that’s relatively rare with other friends now. We usually make plans via email or texting.

May 29, 2013 - 12:46 pm

Pam Houghton - I think you are right, Cindy. I think we are so over-connected from Facebook, texting, e-mail, etc. that it’s hard to justify long conversations on the phone! That said, I DO like to get out and SEE people for face-to-face conversation. But I have to force myself to do that because I’m so used to the electronic means for communications.

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