I don’t remember precisely when it happened, but at some point in my adult life I started hating the phone. It probably happened when other, less intrusive options became viable ways of communicating. There are days where my phone’s usefulness is reduced to being a glorified clock and occasional calculator. People who know me well, know this. They know their best bet if they really want to get ahold of me is to text or send an instant message. But for those who don’t understand this about me, or are unwilling to accommodate it, I fear it’s become a social impediment. This strangeness about me has exceeded being cute or quirky. It’s getting in the way of my life and at times my relationships, and while I generally care very much about the happiness of others, in this case I don’t much care to do a thing about it.
If I’m being honest, I know I have a professional fault or two. Or three or maybe even four. And one that I’ve tried to remedy for years is my responsiveness to voicemails. I’ve even made it a professional New Year’s resolution for several years running. I will be the first to admit, I find almost nothing more rewarding than several hours away from my desk, only to return to the absence of the red blinking light on my desk phone. Perhaps I love this feeling because it’s so rare. But I really think I love it because it equates freedom. No one needs me. Everyone is all right. Thank God.
I’ve joked for years that I hate voicemail and the red blinking light that represents it for one simple reason: It never indicates there is good news on the way. Oh, contraire. The red blinking light means someone is unhappy, or has an impossible problem they think only I can solve, or the world is about to end. I can’t think of a single time someone called to say I just wanted to say what a great job you are doing, or the funniest thing happened today and it made me think of you, or has anyone ever told you that you smell like cinnamon toast, in a good way? No one has ever done that. Now that I think about it, they should.
So much like all things unpleasant, I’ve categorized listening to voicemail with the likes of emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the litter box, or going to the dentist. That is to say, I’ll typically avoid it for as long as I reasonably can. If it’s on my personal phone, I’ll call you back before I listen to the rambling voicemail you left. (Yes, I am one of those people.) If it is on my work phone, I’ll glare at the red blinking light, sigh, pick up the receiver, hold my breath, and cringe when the automated system barks at me in it usual judgy tone: You have 12 unheard messages. To play your messages, press 2.
Ack. That’s twelve things I will probably wish I didn’t have to know.