Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes clicking my way deeper and deeper into a company’s website, looking for someone’s email address. Unless you’re looking for an incredibly specific, possibly illegal item that’s only sold by a tiny curio shop in the Ukraine, that’s a stupid amount of time to spend looking for anything online. I was determined to find the address or die trying, though, because my only other option was calling her.
Yep. I had her phone number the whole time. When it comes down to it, I would rather fly a rickety, snake-infested plane to the Ukraine to hunt down an incredibly specific, possibly illegal item that’s only sold by a tiny curio shop there than pick up the phone and call someone.
Possible Reasons I’m Afraid of the Phone
- It makes me feel stupid. I’m not good at talking in person, and that’s when I have body language clues helping me out. On the phone, I can’t tell if we’ve lapsed into a companionable silence or if I’m just an idiot who missed her cue.
- It proves I am stupid. I was once on the phone with a friend when another call came in. I hit the ‘ignore’ button and continued a long rant about my love life until the person on the other end started laughing. That’s when I realized that I’d hit the wrong button, hung up on my friend and was now telling some uncomfortable things to a UPS employee.
- It pushes me out of my comfort zone. I’m kind of a control freak. If I’m sending a text or writing an email, I have all the time in the world to think about what I’m saying, double-check my facts and make bad jokes. I would like phone calls a lot more if it was acceptable practice to write a script and send it to the other party beforehand, knowing neither one of us will deviate from it.
- The call could be coming from inside my house.
I used to have a job that required me to call people at inconvenient times, ask them annoying questions and then let them yell expletives at me. Sometimes I had to call three people at once. People pay a lot of money for that kind of immersion therapy, but it was no use. I still panic every time I have to send or receive a phone call.
Things That Happen Every Time I Receive a Call
- If I don’t know the number calling me, I stare at the phone wide-eyed until it stops ringing. I don’t move the whole time, because then it might see me.
- If the caller is someone who loves and cares about me, there’s a high probability I’ll still freeze and stare at the screen for several seconds before hitting ‘ignore’ in panic. If they really loved and cared about me, they would know not to call. Ever.
- If the incoming call is an important one, on a good day I’ll take three deep breaths and answer in a tiny voice. On a bad day, I’ll throw my phone at the nearest person and make them pretend to be me.
Things That Happen Every Time I Make a Call
- I don’t.
If I have to make a call, I’ll cross my fingers and wish aloud that no one picks up as soon as it starts ringing. Sometimes they answer mid-wish and that gets kind of weird. When I actually do get a voicemail, it goes to my head a little. Obviously the universe heard me and did my bidding. There’s a brief rush of power, but then I get to the beep and I’m in a new kind of hell. I can’t leave a coherent voicemail for the life of me.
Leave Your Message After the BLEEP
- On the Squeaky-to-Demon-Possessed Female Voice Scale, my natural speaking voice falls somewhere near Slightly Deeper Than Average. Unfortunately, I suffer from Phone Voice Syndrome. My default telephone voice sounds like it came from a shy, helium-filled mouse. If I try to compensate, I wind up with a very low, husky voice that is wildly inappropriate for most voicemail situations.
- Sometimes I hear the beep and my mind goes blank. I spend the first half of the message stalling to cover my ineptitude. I left a message on Monday that went something like, “Hi, I’m calling… My name is Stephanie. Hello there. I have called you because a guy named Brian gave me your number and said you were a good person to call so I called you. He actually gave me the wrong number but I looked you up online because I’m a nerd and I fact-check for a living and I found the right number…f-for you. Thank you! Not you, sorry– I just walked out the door and someone held it open. ANYWAY. I need to set up a house inspection. I need to get a house… inspected.” I panicked and hung up before remembering to leave my number.
- On the rare occasion that I don’t freeze up, I feel like the message I’m leaving is too blunt, so I throw in some small talk. Tip: do not attempt to chat with a silent recording device. Inevitably, I get flustered and wind up finding the weirdest way to say something I didn’t need to say at all. I left Jordan a message along the lines of, “Sorry I missed your call, call me back when you get this. …I just got done cleaning my bathroom. Really cleaning it. Now I’m cleaning my vacuum. Is that crazy? Ha ha ha. I’m cleaning my vacuum! So… call me.” He refuses to delete it. This is not the first time I’ve recorded evidence that I’m a dummy around cute boys, but I hope it’s the last.
I majored in communication and I’m basically fused to my cellphone, but that is in no way an invitation to call me. Text me, tweet me, email me, send me a snapchat, even poke me on Facebook. For the love of all that is holy, do not call me. I will come after you.