Today’s question is strangely intimate.
I feel like there’s something about it that gives you an embarassingly personal insight into my life. Then again, I think I’ve probably covered that in previous posts, and honestly there are posts coming up with far, far more intimate information, so I suppose this is really just tiny training wheels for the future.
Also, if you haven’t realised I’m a bit weird by now, there’s probably no hope for you. You need to work on your cray-dar.
You know, like gaydar, but for crazy people.
Yes I just made that up. You can use it. Don’t credit me.
Now we get into it.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?Why?
First of all, can we all agree that in this day and age, phone calls are unnecessary. Unless you are having a crisis, or need to tell me something that cannot be trusted in writing, or I know you almost as well as I know myself, there is absolutely no need for you to call me. That’s what Whatsapp is for. Or Twitter. Or Snapchat. Communicate with me in a way that gives me time to go over my reply please. I’m in the Slow Learner group and apparently I still haven’t mastered the art of french braids (STILL!) or telephonic communication.
Secondly, I would just like to state for the record that phone calls make me deeply uncomfortable.
Not all phone calls, obviously. When I need to call Scrubs to remind him to pick up two litres of milk because I’ve guzzled the entire household supply overnight, I don’t even think twice about it. When I call my friend to catch up on life, I don’t feel anxiety. I’m fine with friends and family. I know their voices. I understand their intonations and their pauses and the words unspoken behind the words that are said aloud.
“Official” calls – anything even slightly professional – is a different matter entirely. If I have to call a stranger or a business, I will rehearse what I’m going to say because I suddenly develop the most ridiculously irrational fears.
Hypothetical 1: The other person answers the phone and I involuntarily vomit out random noises instead of words. Just… a string of consonants and vowels with no meaning. It just spews out of me and I have no control at all over what I’m saying.
…After a brief pause, the person on the other side of the phone says, “Excuse me?” and I hang up in a cold sweat.
Hypothetical 2: The other person answers the phone and I start my sentence, only to completely forget what I wanted to say. Half a sentence hangs awkwardly in the air like a deflating balloon while I frantically struggle to remember where I was going with this now meandering disaster of a phrase.
…The person on the other end of the phone eventually assumes I’m having technical difficulties rather than just moronic social ones and hangs up, shrugging to themselves.
Also, not ideal.
So yes, to avoid either of these nightmare scenarios, I rehearse what I’m going to say. I don’t rehearse it word by word, sentence by sentence – I’m not that anal – but I roughly sketch out what it is I need from the call, and how I’m going to start the conversation.
As if that will somehow vaccinate me from the risk of stumbling over syllables.
As the phone rings, I feel butterflies. Not the nice kind of butterflies that are a little addictive, but the horrible, biting kind of butterflies that flutter around in your stomach with tiny butterfly petrol bombs, gleefully lobbing them at your stomach lining like insect arsonists. Then, in my mind, a spider diagram erupts with all the possible conversational catastrophes that might happen during the call, and I scramble to cover every possible base before the other person picks up the phone.
And then there’s that tell-tale click, and the other person intones their robotic greeting that always ends with, “How can I help you?,” and it’s as if there’s a tiny man in the wings with a clipboard who has been counting down from five, and now he just yells “GO! GO! GO!” and I stutter to life, and trot out my own rehearsed line to get the call going.