I dislike talking on the phone. For a number of reasons, I’ve never really been fond of telephone calls or conversations.
As the managing editor of two newspapers, nine times out of 10 when my phone rings at night or on the weekends, it’s bad news. There’s been a crime, death or accident of some sort that needs to be reported on immediately. That means I drop everything I’m doing and get to work blowing up other people’s phones, posting information online and racing around like a crazy person to ensure my paper gets the story.
If my phone rings early in the morning, especially after my family has left for school and work, it likely means my husband forgot something he needs, he got a speeding ticket or one of my employees is sick and can’t make it to work.
Rarely does anyone call me with pleasant news. And honestly, even if someone has pleasant news to share, I’d rather they didn’t call me.
That may sound harsh, but I honestly don’t have time to talk on the phone. I work 10-12 hours a day, often six days a week, going full-throttle the whole time. In order to make the paper’s deadline, I eat lunch at my desk, avoid leaving the building and try to conduct most business via email, which allows me to reply when it’s convenient — although no time is ever really convenient.
Every minute I spend on the phone is likely a minute I’ll miss deadline by later that night. And when the day is over and I have my one precious hour each night to spend with my family before my daughter goes to bed, I’d rather not be answering the phone.
After my little girl is asleep, I launch into “domestic mode” and begin frantically packing lunches, setting the coffee pot for the next morning, cleaning up after dinner, taking the dog out, picking up approximately 47,000 toys and books, sorting through the mail, paying bills and going over my daughter’s daily progress report from school. If I’m lucky, I finish these tasks “early” enough to hit the sack by 11:30 p.m.
Again, I’d rather not answer the phone and push back all my chores so that they cut into my beloved six hours of sleep.
I work a lot of Saturdays, but if I happen to be off, I’ll consider talking on the phone. Sundays aren’t great for phone conversations, though, since I have to attend church, hit the grocery store, tackle mountains of laundry and tend to any other errands and tasks I’ve been ignoring.
So, basically, anyone who wants to call me should limit it to Saturdays when I’m not working, assuming I don’t have another obligation or commitment. Those who phone me at other times should expect a bit of delay when it comes to me returning their calls.
Before I had a child, I wasn’t crazy about phone calls, but I didn’t really mind them as much. Now, though, even if someone does get me on the line, I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be a distracted conversation, peppered with exclamations such as, “Put that down! Don’t jump off that! Leave the dog alone! You’re going to get hurt! No cookies, dinner’s coming!” When you’re dealing with that, what’s the point?
I think there’s an unspoken agreement among parents of young children that we’ll all stick to text messages and emails. Those who are child-free or have forgotten the chaos that goes hand-in-hand with raising tiny individuals don’t appear to be in on the secret, so I’m trying to think of nice ways to notify them. I’m tempted to become the annoying parent who insists on letting her toddler speak to anyone bold enough to dial me up. A few awkward, inaudible conversations about dogs, yogurt, princesses and the potty probably would discourage callers from punching in my number in the future.
Worst-case scenario, I could return calls at 2 a.m., when I’m wide awake after having dealt with a toddler who woke up asking for milk and demanding to sleep in Mommy’s bed again. Oh, what’s that? You say 2 a.m. is not an appropriate time to return a phone call, even though it works well for me? Well then, let’s just stick to email from now on, shall we?