This is going to be one of those posts in which I wonder once again… am I the only one? Today I want to talk about that beast of all beasts, the telephone. I usually think my incompetence and fear when it comes to using this device is another one of those proofs that I’ve never really grown up or become an adult. It just doesn’t seem a socially acceptable fear to have. I’ve hated the telephone as long as I can remember. The idea of phoning up someone you can’t see and having a conversation honestly makes me feel a bit sick. If I have to do it I’ll plan out in my head what I’m going to say, rehearse and procrastinate everything else in my life until I’ve made the call. Thoughts of the call will circle around my head until I’ve made it when I can get back to thinking about normal life like a sane person again. (this doesn’t count when dealing with close friends, I love talking to them on the phone, I can imagine their faces and know they’ll forgive any social awkwardness.)
Being in a job where I had to answer the phone and make phone calls to people helped my fears a little bit. I’ve managed to improve in answering the phone, after all, the ball is in the other person’s court and in my office I could always pass them onto someone else if I had no idea how to deal with them. I also find it much easier answering as someone from a company/charity. It’s easier to have a line to say rather than my mumbled attempts at hello. I’d still rather not answer the phone to someone I know even if we have a great face to face relationship unless I know why they are phoning, I fear the awkward how are yous, the not knowing how long the conversation should last for, the lack of social etiquette to help us through this conversation. My face will turn red at fumbled awkward moments and I’ll have to walk around the house for a bit after the call trying to shake off the weirdness. I have issues. I know.
Phoning people is still a massive hurdle to overcome. I have to work myself up to it, I have to wait until the office was clear, and then worry about it some more until the dreaded moment. What makes the whole sorry debacle worse is when the person I’m trying to speak to is out- it delays the inevitable, and I have to go through the whole sweaty process again. Give me email any day, let me express myself to strangers in words and I’m happy.
I think I fear the phone so much because it gives so little. All I have is my rather strange voice and my fumbling words, the person can’t see my winsome smile or be amused by my body language, I can’t read the non-verbal signals they are giving telling me it’s ok to keep talking, or that they haven’t a clue what I’m talking about or that I need to repeat myself clearly as they are looking at me with an increasingly puzzled expression on their face. I hate the social awkwardness of the telephone, the not knowing whose turn it is to speak and the randomness of trying to work out how to engage with someone based on their voice, and my voice. I hate that sometimes people think I’m a man on the phone, that I can’t parade my obvious signs of being a woman. I hate that if we have an awkward goodbye it will stay with me for hours afterwards, I’ll worry if I offended them or if their shortness with me was because of me or because they just saw a giant rabbit eating their plants and had to deal with it straightaway. There are no physical reassurances at the end of a phone call, no smiles to see, no clues to pick up on that all might not be ok with the other person. I’m getting better at this phone business slowly but it doesn’t get easier to phone up random people.
I know I’m a big wuss, my Mum battles with a stammer and has an excellent reason to hate the phone, I have none of that, just a red face, a whole pile of social awkwardness and maybe a love of actual physical face to face interaction.
Am I the only one?