If I'm going to answer the phone there are certain "criteria."
I will NEVER answer the phone unless I know who it is. If an unfamiliar number shows up on the caller ID, forget it. They're getting the answering machine, baby.
If I know who it is, even if I like or dearly love the person, I usually let the machine get it so that they have to leave a message - then I know what they want. Usually they say something like, "I'm just calling to say hi, call me back." And then I nod and put calling them back on my list of things to do. I'm not sure what I think they're going to say. "I'm calling to tell you that you SUCK and I HATE YOU." It could be. That could happen. So I wait, just to make sure.
If I know who it is, and I urgently need to talk to them, I will think about answering it, but probably I won't. Because I'm ridiculous. We put a sofa up for sale on Craigslist and a lady called and wanted to buy it. I heard her leaving that message, and did I pick up the phone before she hung up? No. I waited till the next day, and when I couldn't think of any other excuse for not calling her, I called and left her a message. And then didn't pick up the phone when she called back. It took a long time to get that dang couch sold.
I have one sister-in-law who has learned all of this about me and she will call and just talk and talk and talk into the answering machine and literally SHAME me into picking up the phone. "I know you are there. I know you are sitting there listening. Pick up the phone. Pick up the phone Sue. You can do it. Just pick it up. Come on. I have things to do. Places to go. Just pick up the phone." Sometimes I pick it up. Sometimes though, I just turn the volume down and hide in my room until she hangs up, and then I email her.One of my friends told me a while ago that she doesn't have caller I.D.
I looked at her incredulously. "You don't have caller I.D.?"
"So you just - answer the phone WITHOUT KNOWING WHO IS THERE?"
I mean really. To have NO IDEA who might be on the phone. Ever. And to pick up the phone ANYWAY. I literally cannot imagine what is going on in her head.
I made a new friend once and after the third or fourth time she called me I was ready to go totally nutso. It seemed like she was calling ALL THE TIME.
"Why does she keep CALLING me?!!" I complained to my husband.
"She's called you three times in three weeks."
"I KNOW it. It's INSANE."
My husband broke out the slow and special voice he uses when he thinks I'm not quite getting it. "Honey -- she wants to be your FRIEND. That's what friends do. They call each other. They talk on the phone. They don't just - email each other once in a while."
"They should. They should just email each other." And the thing is - I DO want to be her friend. I just don't want her to CALL me.
On Sunday the phone rang and I waited for the caller ID to announce it. (We have talking caller ID.) It announced the name of one of my friends, Diana, who was coming over later that afternoon. My husband started to pick it up and I shrieked. "Don't answer it, don' t answer it, don't answer it!"
He stared at me. "Why not?"
I blinked. I wasn't really sure.
He answered it.
I started jumping up and down mouthing, "I'm not here, I'm not here!!"
"Sure, she's right here." He made a face at me and handed me the phone.
I hit mute and said, 'I cannot believe you just did that."
"You need to talk to her, she's coming over later and wants to confirm."
I shook my head. "I can't talk to her right now."
"Because I'm NOT HERE."
"But you ARE here. You do, in fact, exist in this moment in time."
"But I'm NOT READY."
"TAKE THE PHONE. You like her. She is your friend. You are wasting her time. Stop being a such a FREAK."
And of course, Diana and I had a perfectly nice conversation. I'm still mad at my DH though. Because really. Way not to enable me.