Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Fear of Phones - part 1

I was just listening to a song just now when through it's modulated robotic voice I realized the lyrics were, "I'm working on your project - it won't be done on time - please don't call me anymore.." a more apt musical interlude could not possibly exist for me right now. It can be heard here. The song, "Nobody Calls Me Unless..." by Shout Out Out Out Out, sounds as though it could have been written by a designer working to a deadline.

Lately, I've felt unusually busy and pressed for time. I think too many freebie projects in a row will do that to you. What I can't figure out is why I let a low priority favour become so stressful. I really feel like saying, "I'm working on it - stop calling me." If I knew how, I'd install this song as my hold music. It takes a lot of energy trying not to let someone else's projects take over my life, or even ruin my day.

When I'm especially busy, I find the sound of the phone ringing like fingernails on a chalkboard. I don't want to talk to someone wondering where their project is. Man, I've got paying customers to bug me about that crap - I don't need it when I volunteer. It only worsens the expectation that on the other end of the line will be a request for a market survey, donation to worthy causes, discussions of life insurance or battle hardened sales agents (sheesh, it's even creepier when a Toronto cop calls wanting to sell tickets to some crazed charity event - talk about your pressure tactics). It's bad enough making calls. To me there is absolutely nothing harden than picking up the phone and asking somebody for something. I have no idea what it is but I'd rather choke on suspicious spinach downed with rancid carrot juice than make a call to someone to ask for a favour.

I think this all began when I was kid. Using the phone in our house was a difficult proposition. Mom and Dad would always be listening and giving you the eye if they felt you were on too long. Their excuse for such telephonic vigilance? Somebody might be trying to call! Pardon me, but we didn't exactly have a red phone with a direct connection to the Kremlin sitting in the kitchen. It created a fervor in the house whenever the phone rang. That must be it! The call that we've been keeping the line open for! Inevitably it would just be a neighbour asking about some church function. How did my parents end the call? "Well, I should go, I want to keep the line free." Again, with keeping the line free? Free for what? Who was going to call? The Queen, the Prime Minister? Joey Smallwood?

Needless to say, it was from this environment of phone totalitarianism that I ran, nay - raced into e-mail's lovin' embrace. Predictably, until I'm finished these next couple of projects, you will find me hiding behind voice mail, e-mail and any other modern obstacle to communication, without fear of tying up the line or missing that all important call I'm expecting.

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