What is it about a telephone that grants total strangers an all-access pass into my life?
There was a time, back in those angsty teenage years, when I begged my mom to get caller i.d. "Pleeeeeeeze," I would whine, incessantly, over and over again because it was just that important to me that I know who was calling. The intense need to know overshadowed just about everything else, possibly even breathing, at that age. Oh, how I do not miss being an angsty teenager (being an adult is hard enough).
Having abandoned the need to know who was on the line before answering it syndrome, I had an altogether different philosophy regarding the phone when I was in college. Somewhere between time, space and leaving the womb of my parents' home, I grew to not care about the phone. Most likely, this new found freedom from phone call knowledge was fostered in the halls of a dormitory, where no less than 15 girls (and the stray boy from downstairs) shared one, lone payphone.
(It was 1991, after all)
Footsteps would bang down the rustic hallway when that phone would ring, its metallic announcement to the world that somebody was calling someone. My dorm room was 2 doors from the phone, the plastic chair that sat in front of it pretending to be a comfortable place to chat to loved ones and boyfriends left behind, and a large space underneath my door which let every little sound through. In hindsight, a rolled up towel in that space between the floor and my door would have done wonders.
By the end of those days, I was immune to the phone. I no longer yearned to know who was calling me or what calls I had missed while I was away. I really could care less and adopted the attitude of "if it is important, they will leave a message," without resistance.
Those were the days.
Life now looks nothing like it did during college. Now we have coaches, parents, kids, and the list goes on calling our home throughout the day. My husband has to be available at all hours because of his profession...not to mention the occasional call from an in-law. Knowing who is on the other end of the line has become more than a necessity, it has become a way of life, no matter how I wish it wasn't so.
God help the lone solicitor who breaks through the chaos on my phone line.
I put our number on the national do not call registry every time the list expires, expecting it to protect our home from being invaded with requests to try a new carpet shampoo or receive a 10% discount on mini blinds during the late evening hours when the solicitors know someone will be home. I do this because that time, that end of the day time, is so precious. It may be the only time during the day that we have as a family, before bedtime, to just be. Nowhere to go. Homework done. Chores mostly done. Family time. The last thing I want is to be interrupted by someone selling something.
The other night, I had had it.
When they had called a few weeks ago, wanting our "household opinion" on something, at 8:55 pm, I told them that no, my opinion was not available and to please not call me back asking for it.
They responded by sending me ONE DOLLAR, cash money, in the mail!
"We're sorry if we inconvenienced you with our attempt to include your opinion in our highly important survey," it read. "Please take this dollar as a sign of our sincerity."
Are you kidding me?
Brett and I had a good laugh about being sent actual, cash money in the mail (even if it was only one dollar), and I pushed the incident which wasn't really an incident to the inner reaches of my mind, hoping to never have to think of it again.
Lo and behold, at about ten to nine the other night, the phone rang. Since most everyone I know and converse with on a regular basis either has kids of their own to tend to at this hour or knows that I do, I glanced at the caller id expecting to see the number of a family member with important news. Instead it was the name of that survey company that had sent the dollar. Scarborough Research, it read.
I could feel my blood pressure creep up to dangerous levels. I took a deep breath and readied for battle. The tenacity of these people, I thought to myself as I clicked the "yes" button.
Yes, this is she.
No I am not.
Please put me on your do not call list, I'm already registered with the national registry.
No, I am sure.
Yes, I understand.
Well then, give me the number of where to call so that I can be put on a list.
There is someone at this number now?
Thank you, I know it's your job but your company has called several times this week and I have already asked to be removed from the call list.
Guess what happened when I called the special 800 number which was supposed to connect me to an available, real, live person who would put my number on the do not call list? Nothing. It rang and rang and then I got a voice mail. Let's just say fury reigned down on the ears of whomever's job it is to listen to the messages left on that voice mail account (I would hang myself if I had your job).
Scarborough Research Company? You better not call again.
Also, in hindsight, I could have saved a lot of precious family time by merely doing what my dad does when the unwanted calls trickle his way: just lay down the phone and walk away.
My dad, he's a wise one.