|SOMEONE HAD BETTER BE DEAD.|
I know. Women are supposed to spend all their time gassing on the phone, right? Yapping away with friends they've only just seen ("What do you talk about?" stereotypical men in the lives of these stereotypical women ask). Passing idle gossip. Talking about…I don't know – cupcakes? Shoes?
I'm just not like that. I pretty much hate ringing people. Even the people I love most in my life. My parents get a call maybe once a month, if I'm being good. I never ring my siblings. I never ring my friends.
Chances are, if someone rings me on my mobile, I'll glance at the screen, note who it is, and put it back in my bag. I'll probably text later.
If the landline rings during the week, I'll pretend it's not happening. Chances are it's someone I don't want to speak to. A creditor, most likely. Or someone ignoring the fact that I'm registered with the Telephone Preference Service, trying to sell me a new kitchen or insurance. Or kitchen insurance.
If it rings at the weekend, it's probably my mother. I'll usually pick up then because I know it's my mother. And the conversation from my side will be: "Uh huh. Yeah. Yup. Yeah. Yup. Yeah. Haha. Oh really? Yeah. Good. (repeat for 30 minutes.) OK. Love you too. Hi Dad. Yeah, good. OK. Love you too. Bye." It's obviously no reflection on them; of course I love them. But when I speak to them on the phone it's out of a sense of filial duty, not a desire to reconnect. I'd rather see them in person. Of course, I can't see them in person that often – every few years or so. So I should embrace the phone. But my intolerance to Mr Graham Bell's invention gets deeper every year.
If the phone rings after about 7pm, someone had better be dead. I see that clanging ringing sound as an intrusion into the hermit-like world I enjoy when I'm at home.
If I need to cancel something, like insurance (kitchen or otherwise) or a subscription, I much prefer an email or letter. If I ring, I'm fully aware that I'll be put through to "customer retention" and have to endure someone reading a customer retention script before they'll finally let me go. I once spent half an hour on the phone to a woman in India reading a script in broken English while I begged her to just cancel my AOL subscription.
If a friend rings, I'll usually forget to listen to the voicemail for about a week. I'll happily text or email, but my favourite way to interact with my friends is in person. I never ring up for a goss and I tend not to enjoy "goss" conversations. I spend the entire time wondering when I can find an excuse to hang up.
I'm not completely phobic about the phone. I use it to make meetings, appointments and arrangements. Ask for directions. Sort out a query at work. That kind of thing. It's a useful tool. But I just don't use it to communicate.
If I want a chat with someone I care about, like a friend, I do it face to face.I love socialising and I'll talk about pretty much anything. If it's an uncomfortable issue, a complaint or something I'm not happy to talk about, I prefer to get it all into a letter or email, where I can organise my thoughts without interruption or intimidation.I like to be prepared. Have a meeting at work where we can look at spreadsheets or schedules or visual aids. I hate awkward silences. Phone calls can catch you off guard. I've been known to write down what I want to say before making a call.
I'm a regular chatterbox on social media, but there, I have control. I can work out what I want to say. I can edit myself. I'm not going to talk myself into a corner or run out of things to say. I've always been more comfortable writing than communicating in any other way. I think that's why I love the internet so much.
As far as Skype – all the awkwardness of a phone call AND the caller can see if I'm looking at my scruffiest and haven't cleaned the house? Forget it.
I love my iPhone but I hardly ever use it for phone calls. Emails, texts,music, clever and useless apps, games, social media – all brilliant. But actually using it to phone people? Hardly ever.
If a phone call has a purpose, I can deal with it. But the kind of idle chat I love in real life just doesn't translate to the phone. I can't see anyone's face. I can't deal with a pause in conversation by glancing elsewhere, or smiling, or going to the bar, or petting a dog.
I feel a neverending guilt towards my friends and family for never picking up the phone, but I think they're used to it by now. I hope so. As far as the others – the creditors, suppliers and kitchen insurance providers – they can just deal with it.
Don't call me. I'll call you. Maybe.