Friday, July 07, 2006

That'll be for you

I hate answering telephones. This is a bit of a worry really, seeing as it encompasses a major part of my day job.

Maybe that's why, when the phone rings at home, I do my utmost answering it. It doesn't matter that it's likely to be someone I know, love, like and have been dying to hear from, I hate the bloody phone. That grey, plastic, chirruping machine that insists on interrupting my free time at inopportune moments, requiring me to respond to its summons like a drone.

The overseas marketing call has now reached plague proportions here in Australia and has done a great deal of damage to the already tenuous willingness to answer the phone. You can tell straightaway - a fuzzy sound, several seconds pause, and a strong Indian accent saying, "Helloooo, is that Mrs...?" The only time I ever get called "Mrs" is in the doctor's waiting room or by a telemarketing maggot.

The old cliche of a woman on the phone to her mates for hours and hours seems very outdated to me. My friends are more likely to see the phone as another chore on their never-ever-completed list of things to do around the house - none of us see an hour long chat after 8pm as something fun. A few of us - myself included - have admitted that we sometimes purposely call when we know that the person is not likely to be at home. This enables us to leave a brief but useful message on the phone without the lingering chitchat we'd all desperately like to avoid.

Sapphire, at age seven, is still quite happy to answer the phone and is more than willing to stop what she's doing to run towards the chirruping. Bless her sweet, still-mostly-innocent and helpful little heart. I guess it's only a matter of a few years between the childish exuberance of now to when all of the phone calls will be for her anyway.

The hours between 5:00pm and 8:30pm are when we are at our most frenetic. This is when the after school - bathtime - dog feeding - meal cooking, eating, cleaning up, dishwasher packing - lunch next day making - tidying up - sorting through the mail - putting out the rubbish - watering the plants - jobs are completed - all done in order to spend the rest of our waking hours relatively inert and quiet. Therefore, after the 8:30pm deadline that is Sapphire's bedtime, my desire to be in any way sociable is completely non-existent. I would much rather be on the lounge, watching a DVD or hoping that 'Spicks and Specks' is on; that Love Chunks has filled my glass with a zesty cab sav and we have a plate full of snapped chocolate squares between us. Bliss, sheer bliss and completely deserved.

Of course, that is when the f***ing phone decides to make itself heard. And it is then, that Love Chunks and I end up having a kind of verbal tousle over who has to get up and answer it:
"While you're up...."
"Nah, it's never for me, it'll be your brother...."
"I'm in the middle of something here, can you get that?"
"I answered it last time!"
Thankfully, we both win and lose on relatively equal occasions, but it's still gives me a tiny thrill when it is LC who sighs dramatically, reluctantly puts down his glass and slouches out to the kitchen.

When I've lost the Who Answers the Phone battle, the irony is that, when it's been quickly established that the call is indeed for me and is from someone I like, I am mostly happy to have a chat. But not for an hour. Instead, my conversations tend to run for five to ten minutes, with a "And I'll email you the details, OK? See you on Sunday!" because I'm exhausted.

Baby boomers have written and commented on us Gen X-ers not participating enough in weeknight sports, committees and social groups. Well spotted old-timers, but there's a reason for that - we don't want to. We've worked hard all day, done a few more hours of parental and housework duties and don't want to go out to play volleyball, take the minutes for the school grounds committee annual general meeting or sit in a noisy pub drinking stupidly over-priced drinks and feeling about as fashionable as halitosis.

No - that's why we have comfy couches, surround-sound DVDs, flatscreens, wine, chocolate, warm cuddly dogs and heating systems! We'll work harder and earn more in order to donate dollars to various causes, but be buggered if we're going to give up our precious 8-11pm windows of relaxation time on Tuesday nights to wrap up 600 lucky dip items in newspaper at the school gym in order to raise an extra $20.

If that sounds harsh, well so be it. It's the truth. Besides, it's a different story on the weekends - that's when are are at school sporting events, taxi-ing kids to birthday parties, hosting play dates, having dinner parties, going for walks/bike rides/picnics and shopping. That's why, when Monday rolls around, we need a break from it all by staying inside and ignoring the phone.


Samantha said...

After all you do, I'm not surprised the phone is a burden! The only people who call my housephone is my mum, or telemarketers. Our phone rings about 15 times a day with these *bleeps*. Drives me nuts.

Anonymous said...

I am always the one picking up the phone if I am home. I love to participate in marketing surveys (so that my opinion can become some statistic), hear what the indian telemarketing guys have to say (they are just earning a living, may commit suicide if one more person hangs up or abuse them) and talk to all my family/friends who called (may commit suicide if their calling for help has been picked up by the answering machine). I don't have a mobile though because I don't want to be tracked down all the time...

Anonymous said...

ha! U shld disconnect the landline and let yr thumb do the talking -SMS!!!

Jen said...

I agree. I hate answering the phone so I usually just ignore it.

Unknown said...

I don't even answer the phone at our house. When it rings it's never good. People who we know and want to talk to have our cell phone numbers. Lately, the only calls we are getting are, I think, from collection agencies wanting to talk to my step daughter. They call 2-3 times a day. I turned the ringer off. I may change to number soon. It's either that or start answering the phone with blistering language.