The other day I was walking out of a restaurant with my mom and two young daughters when we ran into a good friend and her little dog. The girls were all over the dog and my mom was all about my friend, so I figured it was OK to answer a text from my husband. Was that kind of rude? Yes. Was I cheetah-fast in my text response? Absolutely. Did it matter? No. I got busted. I heard my friend say something about how I was SO busy answering a text–but I was very fast and it wasn’t my fault! I can’t ignore my husband. He needs me! Plus, it was very important.
Or was it?
I could have waited to get back to him. I should have waited. We were visiting with a friend and I was being rude. My husband wasn’t drowning in quicksand or being chased by bad guys, but I know how I operate and once I open a text message if I don’t respond with immediacy, there is a good chance I will completely forget about it all together.
For this reason, my phone is usually with me. That way there is no incoming-build-up. Recently, my very sweet 2-year-old daughter (completely unprompted) brought me my phone. While I felt a flicker of sadness that my little girl must have thought it was weird to see mommy without her phone, I was also very thankful that she brought it to me. I heard some chirping from the other room and I was curious to see if I got a text from Eminem. I didn’t. But, when you hear the beep, the gong or whatever song you downloaded to let you know that a message has come in, you’re curious too.
I know my boundaries though. I no longer text or email while driving (now I just hope for a red light so I can fire something off). I don’t text or email during concerts (that‘s a lie). I never use my phone when I’m at the movies (only during the previews) and I certainly shut it down if I’m at a funeral (I’m not heartless). I also don’t text during face-to-face conversations with others unless it’s mutually agreed upon that we’re both going to do it—and even then I’ll say something apologetic before going all thumbs on my phone like “Ugh, hang on, I’m so sorry. It’s Eminem. Again. I have to respond. Seriously, he can’t do anything without me.”
Not everyone is as awesomely considerate as I am though. I was at a birthday party some months ago and I ran into someone I truly adore. We were having what I thought was a fairly engaging catch-up session, but then I saw him check his phone while talking to me. HE CHECKED HIS PHONE WHILE TALKING TO ME. Admittedly, he held up his side of the conversation, but I don’t care—he flat out scrolled through his messages, more than once, while he was talking to me. I’m sorry. Am I not entertaining enough for you? Well, just so you know—I was going to take my top off, but now I’m not.
To the people who leave voice mail messages that are anywhere near the vicinity of this: “Hi! I have to tell you something. Call me back.” STOP IT. I can read. I saw that you called. I’ll call you back. My friend, “Nags” does this. He has been doing it since 1997 and everyone in our group has yelled at him about it ad nauseum, but he doesn’t care.
Me: Stop leaving stupid messages on my voice mail.
Nags: They’re not stupid.
Me: Yes, they are. Telling me to call you back is not a good enough message. I talk to you 100 times a day. Of course I’m going to call you back. Either leave me a message with good info and juice, or know that I saw you called. ”Hi, call me back!” is pointless and stupid.
Nags: Too bad.
Me: No. Calling my voice mail takes time and effort. I have to physically call my voice mail, enter my password, listen to the lady warn me about old messages that are going to be deleted if I don’t do something about them, and then—when I finally get to yours, it’s not even good. Stop it!
Nags: I’ll never stop.
The flip side of the voice mail message is this: The message is too long and mostly filled with crap and filler. I have a tendency to leave those kinds of messages. I crack under the pressure of leaving a good message and instead I ramble on and on about nothing. But of course it’s different when I do it. If you do it to me, I’m going to 3-3-7 you. [Side note: If you hit 3-3-7 during a painful voice mail message, it takes you to the end of the message allowing you to delete it and end your suffering].
I’m OK with long messages as long as they are entertaining and they don’t require a callback, but usually the caller wants a callback and then, inevitably, when I call the person back, she repeats the entire message I already listened to on my voice mail. If you’re just going to repeat the whole story, WHAT THE HELL DID YOU LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR? Text me to call you back, or just know that I saw that you called. I’ll call you and you’ll tell me your story—trust me, I want to hear it, I love information—but if you’re the type who is going to repeat the whole story as soon as we talk, I’m going to 3-3-7 you. I’m going to 3-3-7 you all day long, sister.
We’re all busy. It’s hard to find time to talk on the phone, so it’s nice that we have several alternative ways to communicate. I love them all and I use them all.
Although, after my friends read this, I have a feeling I won’t be using many of them today.