Unless I'm at work, I will always answer, but most times with complete and utter trepidation. Sometimes it's because if it's a late night call and I think the worst has happened to one of my kids. Other times I just don't want the unbidden demand for my undivided attention and dread how I will be able to escape a full fledged conversation, so I can get back to watching Grey's Anatomy. I know that sounds bad, but tell me you haven't felt that way at times.
And it isn't just when receiving calls. Making a phone call can be like pulling teeth. Example #1: All I have to do to pay my rent is call the bank and say "I would like to transfer money into my landlords' account". But it never fails that I wait four whole days before making the call. Every month - the same thing. Example #2: Walmart was out of Lavash bread on my last visit and I don't want to drive all the way across town if they still don't have any. Do I call ahead to save the trip? No. I make the drive anyway. It's crazy!
I've thought long and hard about this and once, had written down the different circumstance in which I may get a phone call - or would have to make a call, and then tried to figure out why the act is such a chore. That didn't really work; there were just too many scenarios and instances to consider. but in making that list, I was able to figure out what each had in common. The answer? They were all awkward. Here's why ...
Part of it is the element of (cue eerie music) "The Unknown".
1. How will I end the conversation when I need to? There's a huge amount of guilt associated with trying to end a conversation and even more so, when the person you're talking to segues into a brand new topic.
2. What if we run out of the things to say? This brings on the dreaded "dead air" that causes sweating and a rapid heartbeat.
3. When should I switch from being a good listener, to talking about what's happening with me? Does one ever really recognize the cue?
Then there's those other awkward moments that make me realize why texting or messaging is so popular:
4. Talking over one another. This happens a lot when having a cell phone conversation; I think because of the delay *shrugs shoulders* I dunno.
5. Burping or other bodily functions, in the middle of the conversation. (hush, it can happen)
6. Not having the time to think, before you speak. This can get you anything from having to pick a drunk friend up from the bar at one in the morning, to babysitting a toddler. (cringes).
With making calls it's a bit different and can be even worse. Here you have a complete stranger on the other end and typically, you're trying to make them understand what you want or need. YOU know why you've called, but THEY haven't a clue until you finally spit it out. The guilt factor also comes into play here because at least for myself, I tend to feel bad that I have to cause them to stop whatever they were doing and to focus on ME. Yeah, I know it's their job to do so, but what if they were doing something as important as ... catching up with a co-worker about the date they had last night? Well I can't know that, can I? since I can't talk to them in person!
And they have no idea that I'm a sweaty mess in the middle of shopping for the ingredients to make my Mexican lasagna and need some damn Lavash bread! Yes, the Lavash bread again, I know. But here's an example from yesterday:
I'm in Kroger's and it's now my turn at the self checkout kiosk when Walmart finally transfers me to the bakery, instead of cosmetics - for the third time. Frustrated because I now have to talk on the phone and check my groceries at the same time, I ask "Did you get any Lavash bread in yet?" At that same moment the mechanical voice on the kiosk says "Welcome Kroger customer! Pleas scan ..." ... well now I have TWO people talking to me at the same time and have no idea what the Walmart employee has just said. So I repeat "what I'm needing to know is, did you get any Lavash bread in yet?" I cringe because immediately after the words came out of my mouth, I realized that I sounded bitchy and even more quickly, I discover that I must have pushed the bakery clerks HULK button because she comes back with "look, I told you yesterday we don't have any and I have no clue when we will, OKAY? Try looking at Kroger's since you're obviously there".
Well now I'm so shook up that I've scanned my tortilla chips twice and I'm chucking stuff in the bag that I haven't even scanned yet which of course, prompts the "Please wait while an associate is comes to assist you" dialog which then causes the Walmart employee (who's probably rolling her eyes at this point but I don't know this, because I CAN'T SEE HER) to say "Is that it? Good. Okay, bye!" as she hangs up on me. Ugh.
Now, none of this means I'm not sociable. I LOVE talking to people and always appreciate when a friend thinks enough of me to give me a call. I think It's all just a nervous response to the pressure to not want to sound stupid at times or not interested at other times, that I obviously want to avoid. And it's not always like this; some calls, especially if I am very close to the person, can be stress free.
I guess It's something that I just need to work on.