Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From the Archives: My Nemesis, The Phone

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My son seems to think I should make him a birthday cake instead of blogging, so I'm pulling this old chestnut out of the archives. Enjoy! (Or, you know, close my blog in disgust! Whichever!) I'll be back tomorrow with a fresh post.

I have PHONE issues. I don't like talking on it, don't like calling people, don't like answering it. Sometimes just the sound of it makes my stomach twist into knots. I don't mind getting together in person with people, and love having conversations that go on for hours, but there is something about the phone that makes me want to throw up.

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?"


"That's insane."

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."

"Why not?"

"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.


  1. Birthday cake instead of blogging? Sue, honey, we need to talk about your messed-up priorities.

  2. I remember nodding vigorously when I read this post the first time. This time around, I happen to have a fantastic irl friend whom I love to talk on the phone with! I guess you just haven't yet found "that special someone" to be your phone buddy. :)

  3. Since I am newer to your blog ~ glad you reposted this while baking cakes - this is great , you are funny!

  4. New one to me as well. Loved it. Your dear thing having "Phone fear". Emails and computers have made it way to convenient to answer people when I'm ready and feel like it. I go thru the same trama each time it rings, Have you no children that race to answer the phone. My three year old is so good at this then how do you hang up and say "I'm not home but my three year old happened to be". DRAMA LLAMA.........shaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  5. Oh yeah... my DH does this to me weekly. I am tempted to start turning off all the ringers!

    Still laughing.

  6. I can take calls, but making calls makes me neurotic. I make my living by speaking in public, but answering machines turn me into a blithering idiot. I hate absolutely everything about dialing, waiting for the answer, explaining why I am calling, the whole thing.

    why won't the world just convert to email as our sole means of communication? what's so crazy about that?

  7. I will text instead of call because I hate drawn out awkward conversations. Especially if the other person wants to have a conversation and I just want to say the one question that I could just as easily text. My husband rolls his eyes and thinks it's ridiculous, but I would rather text my hand off than have to talk most times.

  8. All of my friends who read your blog are thinking of me as they read this. The traitors!

  9. love this one, it's a classic! Have fun baking that cake!

  10. My husband does that to me too. Whenever my biological mother calls he answers the phone and shoves it at me! If he's not home it ALWAYS goes into voice mail and I rarely call back!


    Click to see how I feel about the phone. (Is it bad blog etiquette to link back to my own blog when commenting on yours?)

  12. I am exactly the same, except when people call me "just to say hi" I don't ever call them back. I'll email them. Can't stand talking on the phone. It rubs up against my face... I can't hear people half the time... they can't hear me, and I have to repeat myself over and over... Reading your blog was actually a huge relief. Maybe I can find some phone-hating friends around here and start a support group. Of course, we'd have to organize meetings via email or texting...

  13. I understand. I don't like phones, either. I think it stems back to emotional middle school mean-girl phone wars. We're afraid our popular friend will call and accuse us of flirting with her boyfriend and stealing her hairstyle. :) "Nobody likes you anymore! Jen is going to beat you up in gym tomorrow!"

  14. I also hate the phone. I hate to call people. Now, email! That's where it's at. I can get out what needs to be said, so small talk dragging out the conversation and turning it into some huge ordeal.
    or texting. I like that. Short and sweet!
    don't waste my time.
    But, I do have this crazy need to know who is calling me.
    Most of the time, I answer it, unless it is a solicitor, or my husband's Grandparents, who call regularly "Just to say Hi".
    We usually let them get the answering machine, and "forget" to call back.

  15. I love this post with every fiber of my being. Seriuosly, this one should go in the book. Classic!

  16. since i'm new here, i'll gladly take a recycled post!
    i, too, am not a phone person. however, i will talk above texting anyday!
    why has texting taken over the world?!?

  17. Sher - two words: CALLER ID.

    The thing is, I love talking in person. I just hate talking on the phone. I turn into dorky-ms-awkward-pause-dorkerson and it never ends well.

  18. I totally get it. I even turn off the ringers sometimes. It's so much easier to hit enter and be done...

  19. LMAO. Oh goodness, is it bad to tell you that we don't have caller id? Well, I guess I do since my cell is really my only phone. I generally don't answer numbers I don't recognize. And sometimes I won't answer calls...but it's usually more of me not being in the mood to talk. But I don't mind talking on the phone. Good for your husband for not enabling you ;) You can do it!!! Really, you can. Seriously. Baby steps.

  20. Sue,
    just read your comment on Beck's and I just have to say you've got a post (that I was already working on) coming your way... courtesy of me... all about YOU!!! and how much I love you... and how cool I think you are... See... the secret does work! you put the request out in the world and it will be gratified.

  21. Shellie: YOU ARE A GENIUS.

  22. Sue you make me laugh. You sound a little crazy. But not too crazy, so I will keep reading.

  23. Just a few months ago, I invited ten 5-year-olds (DD's entire preschool class) over to our house for a no-occasion party so that I wouldn't have to pick up the phone and invite just one or two over for a play date. (You see, with parties, you can send paper invitations! No phone calls necessary.) My neuroses are extensive and legendary.

    Nice to find a twin soul. :-)

  24. I`m so with you. Phone phobia. That totally describes my relationship with phones. sigh.

  25. I USED to have a phone phobia. I feel ya.

  26. I'm supposed to be making phone calls right now.......maybe later....

  27. You need to talk to a professional to work this out. I mean, it's just weird. I say that with love and friendship, yes, even though I don't know you past 5 blog posts, but still.

    I have weird, irrational neuroses too but I know from whence they come and I'm seeing a psychologist about it.

    And then blog about it because IT'S FASCINATING! :-)

    And yes, funny. ;-)

  28. ha ha ha this is hilarious! I never answer if I don't know who they are either...its usually someone from church :)

  29. I have caller ID but it's pointless because I never answer the phone anyway. And when my husband answers the phone for me, I absolutely refuse to take it. Oh, he enables me. But he doesn't like it. It's not a win win situation.

  30. "You need to talk to a professional to work this out."

    Naw. I use the phone when I have to, I just don't LIKE to. If it was an actual problem, with actual consequences, that would be another thing. But it's just a quirk.

  31. Or is that nah? I forget.

  32. Oh lordy... You are a quirky girl...

  33. Anonymous2:07 PM

    You phone snobs drive me crazy. My daughter is one and she will. not. answer. the. phone! I think she is selfish. I might want to talk to grandkids; she controls that too. Someday this will come back to bite her in the butt. I'm waiting.

  34. I'm glad your recycled this becasue I've never read this before. I feel all relieved now that I am not the only freak on earth who hates talking to people on the phone :-)

  35. You and I could be friends. I promise to never call you. I never call anyone if I can help it.

  36. Sue,
    Bad subject for me. Not answering phone calls - or making them = not a friend in my book.
    E-mail is no substitute. I'm just more touchy-feely, I want to hear someone's voice.
    I don't want to be on the phone for an hour, but 5 minutes to make plans works just fine.

    Now, I HATE getting calls before 12 noon. I'm flipping busy. I have had to learn not to interrupt breakfast or get out of the shower for them.

  37. I totally have issues with the phone, too- I love having caller ID, and I hardly ever answer the phone, even if I know who it is- it's terribly antisocial, I know. :)

  38. Okay, I get the hint. Considering I am your polar phone opposite, this is nearly unbelievable and sounds impossible. "Oh, I was gone ALL DAY!" Yeah. Right.

    I WILL NOT CALL DURING UNSCHEDULED HOURS. Maybe I should write that 50 time on my blog just to make sure I really really follow it.

  39. You know, I'm fine once I'm actually ON the phone. It's the whole - GETTING ON the phone thing that's hard. Making myself pick it up.

    I don't know.

  40. It's so good to know I'm not alone. I'm making my hubby read this as soon as he gets home

  41. I feel exactly the same way. When we moved here the new phone company installs Caller ID free, and when I found that out I thought I'd won the lottery. Now I compulsively check the ID to see who's calling. I still don't answer it, but at least I know who I won't be talking to.

  42. I'm so relieved to read all these comments. I thought I was the only one. Just happened last night as a matter of fact. My son's Webelos leader called to tell me where tonite's meeting was going to be held. Did I call her back - Nope!

    Now I feel like a total dork because my son will miss his first Scout meeting just because I can't pick up the darn phone. Unless I can get my husband to call her...Geez, I hate being like this! It's so STUPID! What do I think, she's going to yell into the phone, call me names and tell me she hates me? She doesn't even know me and she just wants to do something nice for my son.

  43. i'm new to your blog...came across it through something we call "blogstocking"...but i am so glad i did! you are hilarious!

  44. This all rings soo incredibly true. I'm the same way with the door-bell too. You wanna get through to me you better send a letter, email me or blog about it! I am a no-voice, no face to face kind of gal. Thanks for (re)sharing this one. I makes me feel a little more normal!

  45. I have the same problem, I HATE talking on the phone. This drives my husband crazy because it leaves him to deal with everything phone and English is not his nor the customer servicers first language. So you get a Chinese accent and an Indain's just really difficult. So he'll say "just a minute,I'll let you talk to my wife" and when I hear this it's my cue to lock myself in the bathroom, grunt and say "sorry honey this is going to take a while"

    I posted this same comment on Brittany's Blog in case someone's keeping track.
    and I didn't read the other comments so sorry if I duplicated

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. I'm one of your newer blogstalkers, and I have to say, I feel like we are kindred spirits when it comes to phone anxiety! I always thought I was the only weirdo in the world that would rather live before telephones were invented. (Every other modern convenience is great... but if I could, I would go back in time and take out Alexander Graham Bell.) Way to be sister! (Is it too soon to call you that?)

  48. wow..I am so glad I am not the only one that feels this way. Well on a lot of your posts I feel the same way as you do. Glad to know I am not the only one out there. Thanks for your posts!

  49. Ok, I just came back here and read this post aloud to my husband. (which incidentally makes for a great read aloud) His comments are: "This sounds exactly like us," and "I really like her husband."

  50. I'm a newby to your blog - got the tip from Seriously Shell ( This is great. Calling to say, "Hi!" honestly, who does that? Good friends - that's who. Unfortunately, I don't fall into that category.

  51. Laura1:09 PM

    I sent this to DH and said, "I'm not quite that bad."
    His response was "but close"
    I'm still trying to figure out how I should take that.
    Thanks for the post!

  52. I recently came across your blog, as I read this post, I thought, oh oh I should comment, to let this poor phone hating twin of mine know that I am the same way. I am not just saying that to make anyone feel better. I am really freakily the same way, possibly worse. Anyway, I then began to read the comments and realized there is a whole support group waiting to happen, right here on the internet. I seriously have never met anyone else with a phone phobia, like I have. I am now going to post this link on my blog, so that everyone I know, that thinks "it's them" can know that there are others out there that are the same way. Thanks for posting this seriously! Thanks!