I hate talking on the phone. I hate it. I hate it for many reasons, one of which is that I am bad at ending the conversation, which I want to do as soon as the phone rings, and another is that even if I’m answering the phone mid-brain surgery, if the person calling me asks if this is a good time to talk, I will lie and say “absolutely!” for no good reason.
But this week I got a brand new and exciting reason to hate the phone.
Let me set the scene.
I am sitting there, minding my own business. Suddenly my phone rings. I pick it up. Of course I could not pick it up since I don’t recognize the number, but I know from experience what will happen. The caller won’t leave a message. I’ll end up googling the phone number. That’ll take me to some page that says that I can order information about that phone number for $9.99 per year, which is confusing because why do I need to know the phone number’s history for a year? I will become annoyed. Then I will google the area code, and find out that it’s somewhere in a red state and become indignant. Who is calling me from a red state, I will wonder. Maybe it’s an ex-boyfriend. I will check Facebook to see if any of my exes live in Texas. Then I will notice that one of my exes has a new baby and be all WHAT THE FUCK? I’m 45, so he must be at least 50, what’s with all the procreation, Tony Randall? Then I will become completely overwhelmed with exhaustion and take to my bed with a cool cloth to recuperate with a Law & Order marathon, which is never as soothing as it sounds because a lot of people get murdered. And personally, I don’t find that relaxing.
So to save time, I answer the phone.
“Oh no,” the caller says. “I think I got the wrong number. Who is this?”
Now we’ve all been in this situation before, right? We get the wrong number and have that Deer in the Headlights moment of not knowing whether to hang up or stay on and explain that it’s the wrong number and apologize and maybe send the greetings of the season while you’re at it. I kind of got where she was coming from.
“Who are you trying to reach?” I ask, not wanting to reveal sensitive information like my name, because one moment she has me on the phone, the next she’s making lampshades from my hide in her basement. Hey, I have cable. I know how this shit works.
“Oh, no I can tell this is the wrong number. God, I’m so sorry,” she says and I say “really, it’s ok. No problem.”
And then we hang up and the phone rings again. And of course it’s her again.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “I got the wrong number again.” And she sounds so despondent that I sort of chuckle and say “not a big deal, ma’am. Happens. Bye.”
And just as I think I’m home-fucking-free, I hear this.
“Look, I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but you called me ma’am, and I’m a sir, and others have made this mistake before so I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but do I sound like a woman to you?”
And how do you go about answering that question, exactly?
Unfortunately, I’m not too quick on my feet and came up with “No, of course not! It’s just that I’m -” and then I couldn’t think of a way to finish that sentence. Because I seemed to be implying that I’m not good at guessing gender over the phone and of all my limitations, I thought I had that one in the bag.
Which brings me to the fact that I hate talking on the phone. Because you never know who’s going to call. Or what’s going on with them, genitally speaking.