Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mr. Watson, I don't need you, apparently ...

“The telephone conversation is, by its very nature, reactive, not reflective. Immediacy is its prime virtue. The immediacy delivers quick company, instant stimulation; the stimulation is cathartic; catharsis pushes back anxiety; into open space flows the kind of thought generated by electric return.”
Vivian Gornick
sociologist and author

I’m giving serious consideration to giving up my telephonic devices, or at least some of them.

I have a residential line at my home. It’s a 2.4 Ghz G.E. cordless model with a digital answerer. It features instant redial, tons of memory for stored numbers, programming, all kinds of channels and more. You can make memos, record cool messages and other stuff.

I have three numbers in the memory, two of them are to one person — her home and cell. The other is my mom … I think.

I don’t use any of those numbers much. I don’t use the features on my phone hardly at all.

In fact, it’s rare for me to get calls. Or to make calls. And that’s even counting work-related calls, sadly. Without those, it would be pitiful. OK, so it’s already pitiful; it would just get worse than pitiful, I suppose.

“All alone by the telephone.”
Irving Berlin

I used to talk on the phone quite often. I made — and received — a lot of long-distance calls. I had to purchase special long-distance phone cards because I made so many calls; I even bought them for friends who I frequently made long-distance calls to, because the deal was so good. The cards were perfect for one or two phone calls of long duration, which were the kind of calls I made and received.

I used to talk for hours and hours on the phone. About something, about nothing; about things of intense importance and things of little or no consequence. I would talk dirty, and be talked dirty to — and yes, I mean phone sex. I would talk sweetly, and be talked sweetly to.

But life changes and, apparently, so do phone habits. I have all these phone numbers in the back of my address book, dozens of chatters with whom I used to chat over the phone as well. Some of them I haven’t called for years and years. For others, it’s only been months, but the gaps between the calls get further and further apart.

But, then again, I don’t chat for even a fraction of the time I used to. I wonder how I ever got anything really done back then — all my “free” time seemed to be spend in chatrooms and/or on the phone. Of course, that’s been replaced by something much more productive and life-enhancing and interactive — blogging, and commenting on blogs. LOL

“I’ve suffered from all of the hang-ups known,
And none is as bad as the telephone."

Richard Armour

I was never much on talking to people on the phone I could talk to in person. Why chat on the phone with someone for hours on end when you could just drive to his or her house, or meet them at a bar or a place to grab coffee and talk there?

But I still had any number of people I called, or who called me. If nothing else, to meet up and have those conversations. To grab lunch. To meet for drinks or dinner. To hang out together.

I don’t know so many of those people any longer. They’ve moved to the states. Or gotten married. Or otherwise disappeared. Or else, I have disappeared from their lives. I’m never really sure anymore who drifted away from whom.

“Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant —
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone —"

Laura Elizabeth Richards

I also have a cell phone. It’s not used very often. The plan I have is way too much for how little I do use it; I need to remind myself to change it before the month begins. From Dec. 16 to 27, I have received 10 calls — 8 of them from work, 1 for poker, 1 from a friend. From Dec. 13 to 27, I made 10 calls — 6 to work, 2 calling back wrong numbers, 1 in response to poker call, 1 to a friend. In that span, there have been roughly 2 or 3 missed calls.

None of the calls I made or received lasted for any significant duration.

So why the hell do I have a cell phone, really? So I can be reached by the hordes of people who aren’t calling me all the time? I have a pager, after all, and there’s always a payphone, or someone else with a cell phone that I can borrow to answer a page.

You know what’s sad? It gets even more pathetic than never being called or never making calls, or at least never making calls that last for any real length of time.

I save the sparse, few messages that have been left on my answering machine, at least the ones from people I wish I had been home, or awake, to take their calls, which pretty much breaks down to one person. I used to have 14 messages of hers saved. I’d replay them when I got particularly lonely, just to listen to her voice saying, “Hey. It’s me. Are you sleeping already? OK, bye.” Or something similar. I lost all of those in the last big power outage here, but I do have two later ones saved up.

OK, let’s not call that pathetic. Let’s call it “sweet.” How about “endearing?” Perhaps “obsessive?” LOL

I guess a big part of the problem is the whole “on the other side of the world” thing. When I’m waking up, most everyone else is stateside is still at work or just getting home. Stateside afternoon to evening hours are pretty much me stuck at the office. Sure, I get home during lunch now and then, but that’s dinner time for most folks. And even though I’m up to all hours of the night, like 2 or 3 a.m. on a regular basis, for everyone over there that time is them waking up, getting ready for work and then going to work.

Yet another strong reason for a need to move — added on to the fact that only chicks who seem to find me attractive all live in the mainland United States.

“He lingered for some word she wouldn’t say,
Said it at last himself, ‘Good-night,’ and then,
Getting no answer, closed the telephone.”

Robert Frost


sassinak said...

unless you need the land line for dsl keep the cell and chuck the rest of it :)

murphy said...

gotta be someway to get a phone company to pay for your move stateside.. start a marketing campaign with a series of ads.. you in guam first.. then the move.. then you get more calls.. see me workin here?

Everything Nice said...

Get an 800 Number. They're fairly inexpensive to maintain and you can normally get a bulk deal on your minutes rates.

Either that or do move to the mainland... we'd love ta have ya.

Mike said...

I get by with just a cell phone now myself...it's handier and cheaper.

Steppin' On Toes said...

Get your butt over here or tell my company to fire me so I could visit ya for an extensive amount of time.


Natalia said...

Let's see..there are three of us in my house. There are three mobile phones, the main home line, my private line, my father's business line, the home fax, the business fax...oh I lost count. But you get the idea.

Phone gives you immediacy, yes. But some of the best phone conversations I had with my ex when I was in the US and he was in the UK were full of comfortable silences and listening to each other breathe. I like the phone.


SignGurl said...

Give me your number and I'll call ya *wink*

DZER said...

sass: I do have DSL ... but wonder if I actually need phone service to use it

murph: you're a marketing genius! LOL

E.N.: I've always wanted to get 800-DO-ME-DZR ... LOL ... and I think a move may be coming within the next couple of years ...

mike: a lot of people I know don't have a land line any longer

jax: hmm .. I'm not ready to go yet ... let's get you fired ;)

nat: you are pro-phone and then some! LOL

jenn: oooh ... that has naughty undertones ... I like it! heh

castufari said...

I canned my LD service last year and bought a 2.9 cent/min "Card" from a place online. I dial a 1-800 number, enter a code (10 for the folks, 11 for sis in law) and I'm done. I'd kill the land line but I have DSL and it is required. My portion of the LD bill for November was under 30 cents. A 10.00 charges lasts the person I share the house with a month, it's cheaper than Vonage and I can use it anywhere.

The cell has been my lifesaver. I get 1400 minutes per month that aren't audited unless I go over. I get a lot of calls on it, some buddies from out of state, a friend from Dubai and then a few calls from my folks.

My big challenge is answering the phone! :D

DZER said...

castufari: for the most part, we are WAY behind the U.S. -- and the rest of the civilized world -- when it comes to cell phone features, minutes and plans. that might be changing soon, as the private company that took over the former government telephone utility is making a big push this year for GSM, higher speed DSL and digital cable over phone lines. ... I can't wait!

Bill Jones, Jr said...

My experience is similar to yours. I've gone from heavy use to rare use in the last few years. Now that I have Voice over IP, I'd rather use yahoo messenger and talk for free anyway.

Folks won't even call me at home now. They leave messages on my cell even if I'm laying on my bed at home. Weird.

DZER said...

the damn telephone conundrum ... LOL

kathi said...

I envy you. I hate talking on the phone, I even hate hearing it ring. If it weren't for having kids, I'd not even have one...but in case one gets sick or lands in jail...I should have one around.