Phone and Sun

It’s quiet, at least. There are only a few haze-clouds; the sky is that rain-washed blue only found during spring in this part of the world. It’s going to be a bright day. Alack and alas, I suppose, because I love the rain–but everyone else will be thrilled. I don’t know why anyone who likes sunshine lives here, but if we could all live exactly where we pleased and moving wasn’t such a hassle I suppose we’d all be a lot happier.

The week wears on. I’m exhausted, and it’s only Tuesday. I didn’t get a damn bit of actual work done yesterday, but that’s balanced out by the fact that I was on the phone for a significant portion of my waking hours. All sorts of administrivia was put to bed and much of it I don’t have to do again, so at least there’s that.

But gods as my witness, I hate the phone. In email or text I can weigh and calibrate responses at something approaching leisure, and there’s a record of what both sides have said. Even if one takes notes, one is often browbeaten or pressured on the phone, and predators who weaponize other people’s politeness tend to prefer it because of the ease of abuse as well as the inherent “he said, she said” when there’s a later question about what, precisely, was agreed to. Not so in email–it’s right there, written down.

I liked the phone well enough as a teenager. I mean, who doesn’t at that age? And really it was all we had at that point.1 But once email, and later texting, arrived? Hallelujah, bitches, no more suffering through phone calls!

…and yet some people still love it. I’m baffled.

There’s also hypersensitivity to account for. On a phone call, you’re listening to tone of voice, word choice, the spaces between words, even someone’s breathing to gain clues about their mood and what they actually want instead of what they say they want. I’m fully aware my sensitivity to this particular aspect of the problem springs from a childhood spent frantically trying to assess what my caregivers actually wanted so I could escape physical (or other) abuse2, but the principle still holds. In email, all that extraneous stuff to keep track of simply isn’t there. Passive-aggressive (or directly aggressive) bullshit stands out in stark relief and is far easier to parry since text and email are asynchronous.

You can just let things sit until you’re ready to deal with them, and give measured responses.

Some phone-lovers say it’s easier and quicker than writing, and I suppose in some very sharply limited situations it might be. But each time the bloody thing rings, or I have to brace myself to put on a cheery voice and deal with said blasted phone, I die a little inside. And I spent hours on it yesterday.

I’m sure that if I had comments open I’d get an avalanche of them from phone-lovers. Be easy, my friends, you can use it all you want! It’s simply not my cuppa, and is profoundly anxiety-making in the bargain. At least I can cut down on the amount of time I personally spend enduring it, or video calls–which are nerve-wracking and exhausting in a similar way. Modern life is good for something, I guess, and it’s interesting to think about how I dealt with the phone when it was literally the only game in town.

Anyway, the dogs are certain that I should stop clicky-clacking in front of the magic glowing box and turn my human magic to the matter of breakfast. They both want their usual ration of toast-crusts, and that can’t happen if I’m busily typing. Sometimes I wonder what they think I’m doing all day, crouched over the keyboard. Do they simply consign it to the same realm of wonders as the dining room table, that bounteous source of human scraps? Or is it simply one more incomprehensible human magic, like cars? They certainly view it as an integral part of the daily ritual; if I’m not at the keyboard during my morning coffee they’re unnerved, and more than once Miss B has herded me firmly for the office, as if she suspects the time spent here is integral to the later appearance of toast.

She might even be right, in her own inimitable way.

The sun has reached a gap in the cedars along the back fence, and is pouring into my office. The small solar dancing-flower on the windowsill makes soft tick-tock sounds as it waves, enthusiastically greeting a day I feel much less sanguine about. I suppose the light will do me some good during walkies and the morning run, though. Miss B is having a good morning and may want to accompany us around the block, but I’m not sure if I’ll let her since carrying her up half the hill yesterday was hard on both of us. So we’ll see…after toast.

One must perform the ritual, after all. Off I go.

  1. Christ, I’m old.
  2. This didn’t work, since if I divined it they simply moved the goalposts, but the random rewards when it seemed to work kept me trying.