Wrong number this morning… while trying to get my kiddo up and dressed against his will. The phone rang, and deciding to give grumpy boy a brief break, I answered it. The woman on the other end of the line sounded way too elderly for her pathetic phone manners. Not to excuse the young, though. No matter…
For those of you who were raised without the benefit of stern Southern parents (who forbade me from the day I recognized a dial tone from calling boys—proper girls waited to be called, they did not do the calling—and any other manner of telecommunications atrocities) here are a few guidelines for calling me, especially when you don’t intend to.
First, please understand that you are barging into my life at home. If I’ve given you my number (friends, family, colleagues and deacons to be) then it is because I want to hear from you. Do not hesitate to call. If it is a bad time, I tend not to answer. But not everyone can ignore a jangling phone, so please understand that you might be interrupting a bad day already in progress. Or dinner.
My mother used to say that her favorite aunt always began a conversation with “is this a good time?” How much more essential those words in these days of cell phones! Way to go Aunt Margie. I try to remember to use those words often, especially if i know I’ve called your mobile number. (I keep my own mobile number somewhat guarded and don’t tend to pick up unless an actual name shows up on caller ID. Anyone else can leave a message, though I may ask how you got that number.)
If, for whatever reason, you call me and you do not mean to, do not aggressively ask “who is this?” as if you were calling your husband and had just been told he’s in the shower. You called me. If you don’t know who I am, ask nicely, maybe even apologize for not knowing. Then you may figure out if you are calling for someone else in my household or have a wrong number without my thinking you’re a jerk. By the way, in this day and age, you’re not an anonymous jerk, either. I have caller ID!
Do not just hang up when you find you have the wrong number. It won’t ruin my day to be hung up on, but I will smile if you’re nice about it. Apologize. It won’t kill you. In fact, if you are nice about it, you won’t be an anonymous nice person either… caller ID, remember? In fact one elderly lady was so sweet, and so repeatedly calls my number by accident, that I feel like I know her. Usually I just let the phone ring when her name pops up, as she always seems a little embarrassed to find I’m not Caroline.
And finally, if you’re a telemarketer, take no for an answer. You *are* interrupting me at home. If you don’t take “no” with basic decency, the next thing out of my mouth might not be as gentle.
I’m astonished sometimes at what passes for phone manners. My children’s friends seem to know how to speak on the phone… “hello, this is Lil’BIlly, is Lil’Jimmy available, please?” What is it with grown-ups? Is there an age where we begin to think that what our mamas taught us no longer applies to us? That decent manners are for kids only? I just don’t get it.