It’s just a thing I don’t do

You know when the phone rings and you answer the phone and there’s nobody on the phone so you say ‘hello?’ and wait for someone to answer you on the phone, even though they rang you and should be waiting with bated (not baited!) breath on the other end of the line for you to acknowledge them so that they can begin a conversation with you on the phone? I hate when that happens. So here’s what I do (and I only mention this because it’s happened about four times in the last two days): if a) I don’t recognise your number; and b) you don’t say anything when I say “hello”, I just hang up on you. Do you know why I do that?

Because the only machines I talk to are my car, my household appliances, and my vibrators. I do not talk to recordings. So when some lame-ass company uses autodial and recorded messages to try to tell me IMPORTANT INFORMATION, I just hang up. DO YOU HEAR ME, POLITICAL PARTIES!? I JUST HANG UP!

If you really want to impress me with your political campaigining, I will be impressed if you have been talking to so many people on the telephone that you are hoarse. I will be impressed when you are willing to invest enough of your own self into what you do that you can prove to your constituents that you heart them by actually talking to them.

DO YOU HEAR ME, BANKS!? I will be impressed with your service if you actually take the time to have a Real Person telephone to tell me I have forgotten to make my credit card payment. Or that there is suspicious activity on my account. Or that the *helicopters* have not been *deployed*.

Because here’s the thing: automation was great for the industrial revolution. But it’s not good for communication. Half the people…actually, probably more like seven eighths of the people in first-world countries who are under the age of 50 do not like talking on the phone. Do you know what we like even less? Being bleated away at on the telephone by a bloody recording. If you really want to connect with people, you have to do it on a personal level.

I want to say that again, because I think it’s important.

If you want to connect with people, you must do it on a personal level. Because it’s *really* difficult to communicate with someone if they are not engaged. That’s why people often feel uncomfortable around people with Asperger’s Syndrome or certain kinds of Autism spectrum conditions – because it’s sometimes difficult to gauge when folks with these issues are engaged. The point of *communication* is that it’s not unilinear.

If you talk to someone who isn’t listening or who cannot understand you, are you communicating, or just making noise? I’d be willing to say you’re just making noise. I’m not talking about unspoken communication here. Let’s talk for a minute again about signals.

When you ring me on the telephone and I answer and there is no reply, the *signal* that I get is that you are distracted enough that now is not a good time for you to be talking, and so I hang up. Either that, or I assume you have been the victim of a rogue meteorite, and whatever it was you were about to tell me will just have to remain unknowable unless you jotted it down on your blog before impact.

When you ring me on the telephone and I answer and there is no reply for a time and when a recording starts up, what you are actually telling me is that I am not important. I am not worth your time as an individual. I do not matter. Yes, I understand this is an “effective means of communicating to large numbers of people”. You know what else is? Having a meeting where we can see you and your unspoken communication.

I will just assume that if you use an autodialer and recorded message to contact me, you are a scammer. You are calling to inform me that my computer is infected and is full of “germs”. You are calling to inform me that I have won a BERMUDA VACATION. You are calling to inform me that if I re-elect you, you will suddenly not be a homophobic prick.

So. Let’s just stop kidding each other, okay? If you’re not willing to put in a little effort, I’m not willing to listen.

Oh. Also. To the collection agencies who’ve been calling every now and then for seven or eight years: The dude who used to have this phone number has been dead since 2003. I cannot give you a forwarding address or new number, because I don’t know it. Go to church; maybe they can help you with that. But I have it on fairly good authority that you cannot take it with you, so you’re probably going to be SOL for the three hundred dollars he owes in interest payments on a parking ticket he got in 1994.

cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.


  1. Cenobyte – I’m glad to discover I’m not the only person who hangs up on dead air. You’ve expressed my thoughts for me in a clear, cogent way. I hadn’t really thought through my ‘hang up’ habit, it was just I did because dead air was irritating. You’ve explained it for me. Thanks

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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