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Why I stopped screening calls

2009 October 1

How often do you see someone’s calling and hit silence, or end, because it’s just not a good time? Or it’s a fine time, but you’re just lazy and don’t feel like talking?

I do this all the time. But no more. And here are my reasons:

1. Someone has made the effort to take out his or her phone, look you up in the contacts, and hit send. In this digital age where the norm is a text or a BBM or a gchat or a facebook poke or a tweet, this is actually a huge effort on his or her part. It deserves the respect of a simple answer.

2. There is nothing wrong with answering the phone to say you’ll call someone back. My bff knows precisely the tone of voice I use when I answer the phone and can’t talk, she’ll go “Oh, you’re busy, call me back.” She’s great like that. A missed call just leaves people wondering whether you saw it and ignored them or were legitimately busy or just hate them and never want to talk to them again. (No? Just me and my paranoia issues? Oh.)

3. Again: In our little digital age here, if someone’s calling you instead of sending that text—it might be because they have something legitimately important to ask your or say. Find out what.

4. The other day I was jussssst settling in for a nice Saturday afternoon nap when my phone rang, and a good old guy friend’s name was on the ID. I looked at the phone for a second, wondering why on Earth he was calling, and then decided that my nap > phone time. I texted said friend later to find out why he was calling (how shameful of me), and he wrote that he was just calling to catch up and tell me how great I am. (He wasn’t being sarcastic, that’s actually how wonderful this person is.) When he called yesterday, I answered the phone and was so glad I did, because honestly catching up with old friends is worth it, even if you loathe talking on the phone.

5. I know that sometimes a phone call seems unncessary when a simple text will do, but feeling disconnected from friends and family in far-off cities has made me want to make the resolution that I’m going to call. So you ask someone a question that takes 45 seconds? So what. People used to have to ride 10 miles to a neighbors house or write letters that took 2 weeks to be delivered when they wanted to do this. I think the least courtesy we can give each other is a simple “Hello?” on the other end.

So here is my promise: I will not screen calls anymore. If you call me, and I am legitimately with my phone (and who ever isn’t anymore?), I will answer.

Unless you’re someone by the initials T.R. and it’s 3:30 a.m. and I know you’re just calling to sing me Pink “So What” or Mariah Carey.

But you know what? Maybe even then.

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