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You call call but I may not answer

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By The Staff

I despise telephones. I always have. Oh, sure there was a time in my youth when Iee^could talk for an hour (what my father allowed) with some silly boy I was crushing on. But I never was one to just pick up the phone to call someone and chat.

Iee^much preferred then–as I do now–looking someone face to face when I speak with them. You can gauge so much from someone’s body language and eyes that just aren’t possible via a telephone conversation.

When mobile phones started coming into their own in the 1990s, it was too expensive to chat. My first mobile phone was that cumbersome bag phone that not only weighed a ton, but also cost 99 cents a minute to use. There weren’t multiple plans to choose from then, so using it was truly only when an emergency merited it.

That’s all changed. Nowadays with a dozen companies vying for your business, there are scores of plans that make it affordable for almost everyone to have cell phone–and worse yet–use them.

Back in January when I celebrated a milestone birthday (yes, I turned 30, alas!), Tom took me to the Hippodrome to see a little farce called “The Dead Man’s Cell Phone.”

Its message was simple: the cell phone has become what connects us to one another in this techno-world we live in.

One line from that show has stuck in my mind–why is it that when you call someone’s cell phone, you expect them to answer?

Back in the day, if you called a land line, you took your 50-50 chance that someone would answer. If he didn’t, you knew he was a) not at home b) working outside or c) in the bathroom.

The advent of answering machines enabled us to leave messages when that call was not picked up.

But now with cell phones, there’s no possible excuse to NOT answer. Or is there?

My phone is for my convenience–no one else’s. It is not attached to my person 24/7.

Believe it or not, I sometimes have to charge it and sometimes I even turn it off.

Most of the time, I keep the ringer off. If someone does call, and it’s important enough, they will leave a message and if I want to, I will return the call.

I love caller ID. If someone is not programmed into my contact list and I don’t recognize the number, I do not answer.

My children, especially my middle son, finds this appalling.

Once a call came through that said “Caller Blocked.”

I didn’t answer. A few seconds later, a text message came “Mom, answer your phone.”

It was Nick, testing out a way to anonymously call from his phone. Too, bad, Nicky-boy. If I don’t know who it is, I am not picking up.

Inevitably, some of my early-riser colleagues and friends will call just as I am entering the shower. I hear the phone ringing from the bedroom but I don’t hasten out to drip on the carpet just to hear someone ask if I am on my way to work.

And while some folks do converse in the bathroom, I find that room is still a place for privacy–and that includes talking on the phone.

I have changed my voicemail recording over the years innumerable times, often to reflect the season “Merry Christmas!” or to state the obvious, “I’m at work and we have lousy reception in the building. I’ll call you back at lunch.”

Now it’s more honest–and brutal, according to my best friend,ee^Denise.

“I may or may not call you back. Iee^despise cell phones.”

See me in person so I can watch your eyes and body language.

Or send a text or an e-mail. I always respond.

I can do either of those while doing a myriad of tasks (not driving-that’s a no-no) but if I’m talking on the phone, I can’t eat or watch television. And frankly, those things take preference over the phone.

Carolyn Risner Ten Broeck is editor of the Williston Pioneer. E-mail her at editor@willistonpioneer.com.