Things That Scare Me: The Telephone

In cynical celebration of our favorite death celebrating season, we’re going all out on fear based topics this month. Every day, Ben will present one thing that scares him, ranging from the anxious and annoying to the deadly and doomed. This is… Things That Scare Me.

Sorry Wrong Number | YouTube

Using the telephone is fucking terrifying and if you disagree with me you’re either an old person or a telemarketer. Fact. Now grandma, before you get all “dag-nabbed millenials with their texting and snappy pics” on me, hear me out. I’ve used the phone. I grew up with the phone. I’ve put coins in a payphone before. I remember having to take messages from strangers when my mom wasn’t home. I remember calling friend’s houses to ask if they could talk. I remember the sheer terror of calling a crush only to be met by the voice of their dad. I’m of the last generation that experienced the pre-texting/personal cell phone era of communication. So I know firsthand: using the telephone is fucking scary!

Right off, I’ll concede phones aren’t all bad. It’s fine to schedule time to chat to distant friends and relatives. That makes sense. Whatever. But unexpected calls? Unexpected calls are some horrifying bullshit, piercing sirens through your encapsulated moments of tranquil peace.

You get unexpected phone calls for two reasons:
1.) Someone wants to sell you something.
2.) Everything and everyone you love is dead.

That’s it! That’s the entire list. I refuse to listen to rebuttals. So when that sickening ringing starts, I know I’ll either have to awkwardly deal with a sales pitch, deflecting in-ear corporate beggars away from my personal information, or get to feel the stomach dropping churn of loss. THAT’S GREAT. Fuck telephones.

And making calls? FORGET about it. You don’t know who’s going to answer the phone or what mood they’re rocking. Hell, they probably assume you’re calling to tell them all their childhood pets are dead, answering your call through choked back sobbing heaves. Nothing good comes from making unannounced phone calls. There’s a 95% chance the person on the other end doesn’t want to be bothered by a phone call right now, and a 5% chance the person on the other end is crazy person who does want to be bothered by a phone call right now. I don’t know which is worse! You’re either ruining a day, or stuck talking about weather for 45 minutes. Regardless, you’re screwed.

In April, my office relocated to a new a building. I just found out LAST WEEK that my phone has been set to divert calls directly to voicemail the ENTIRE time I’ve been in the new building. And you know what’s happened? Nothing. Nothing has happened. People email me when they have questions and respond to them on my own time and it all works out okay. I never have to jump at the sudden sound of a phone. I never have to feel the looming dread of answering a call. I never have to deal with awkwardly making mouth sounds when I’m unprepared. Life without the telephone has been a life a little less scary.


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