Please do not call me #1

The camera in a phone is excellent for interrupting meditations of young swallows.

From the desk of Robert Stikmanz, here is the first of three screeds on a match. The next two are in development. Look for a return to positive thoughts after the third is posted.

Please do not call me on the telephone.

I have been trying to set this boundary my entire adult life. Reasonable explanations in a polite, indoor voice have not worked. Time to draw a line. If it is not genuinely life or death, please do not call me on the telephone.

Unless I expect a call because of prior arrangement, the phone is always silenced anyway. Much of the time it is turned off. When on, it is silenced because the main uses I make of it are for internet search while away from base, casual photography, accessing the Spanish app, or using the calculator for computations I can’t do faster in my head. If, when I pick it up, I see that I’ve received a text, I’ll usually read the message, but I may not reply until convenient. If I see there is voice mail, I ignore it until convenient, which in the case of voice mail includes preparing myself mentally to listen. This is true even if the message is a day or so old when I discover it. Often, my response is by email.

Two parts of an explanation.

A. I utterly despise the act of talking on a phone. Is this reasonable? Who gives a damn? It is the way I am put together.

B. The fact that I despise talking on a phone should be entirely sufficient, but few accept it. “Why?” I am asked. “Why?” How about because talking on a phone makes me incredibly anxious? The anxiety grows as a call goes on. I made a few exceptions during the first year of la pandemia. These fell under the heading of “Everyone is making sacrifices,” but by the end of each of those calls I was pacing rapidly and doggedly to discharge strain THE PHONE CALL made on my cardiac muscle.

Don’t even suggest live chat.

Really. Do not suggest it. I said DON’T. I’m looking at you, tech support.

A brief text exchange is preferable to a call, if I have prepared for it. The critical term here is “brief.” For the umpteenth time, my hands are partially crippled and I have a vision problem that complicates focusing on a screen. Although slower than once, I still touch type fairly comfortably on a full-sized keyboard. I can still do it with eyes closed. Hitting itty-bitty virtual keys on a phone requires both close focus and dexterity. There is nothing comfortable about it. Punctuation and numbers are not even placed correctly relative to letters. Lengthy texts are, in every sense, painful.

I really don’t understand why people resist email. Email is good. A letter or card, posted in an envelope with a stamp is even better. A letter is a treasure. Phoning is an act of control and a demand for attention. Times beyond count I have heard these exact words from inveterate callers, “I just want to pick up the phone and talk.” Well, the flip side is that I do not want to do that. I have no patience left for those who imagine they should be accommodated because what they want is what “everyone” does. If your device holds people in its contact list who do not feel this way, call them.