I don’t — it’s a hijacking. You think you’re headed to a friendly conversation, but dark, unseen forces decide otherwise. Your call is seized and sent someplace you never intended to go. You weren’t consulted or asked, you had no choice in the matter. You’re already there. That seems presumptuous to me, autocratic.
The process is unexpected and startling. I’m caught totally off guard and end up stammering and tongue-tied. ‘Oh, uh, yeah, er, I was ca — I di — — whe — crap, never mi.’ That, boys and girls, is my standard message. It falls trippingly from my silver tongue at the end of the beep. I really and truly hate leaving voicemails. I hesitate to leave them, frankly, then hang up in a mild panic.
Busy signals were a better, more straightforward option. You could trust a busy signal. When you heard it, you knew the line was in use. Period. The unambiguous bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt didn’t lead you to suspect your call was being screened or ignored or rejected. The sound didn’t trigger a personal crisis. It was a statement of fact, no hidden motive lurked behind the bzzt. Unless the phone had purposely been taken off the hook — which was possible, but very unlikely.
These days, you never know. Getting shanghaied by phone unleashes all kinds of anxieties and self-recriminations. What did I do? What did I say? Did I step out of line? Was it my body language? The look on my face? Stoopid face. Stoopid me. Should I apologize? Have plastic surgery? Take an etiquette class? My list is long and the questions are many. All for the lack of a busy signal.
We must join together, people, and put a stop to this foolishness. It’s causing needless worry and distress among the socially awkward, like myself. And let’s get rid of *69 while we’re at it, eliminate that flipping disaster altogether. Caller I.D., too.
Jeez, don’t get me started.