Phone Phobia

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate answering the phone?  I have that exact cat expression except with a slightly more raised left eyebrow whenever the phone rings.  (Oh crap.  Who is that and what the hell do they want. I’ll just let it go to voicemail.)

I will make an exception of course if I’m expecting a call, or recognize the number and actually feel like talking, but those circumstances are rare.

List of possible reasons for my phone call paranoia:

  1. It might be bad news.  Here’s a weird thing I remember from my childhood. Our phone rang and I said “phone calls used to always mean bad news, like somebody died”.  After that profound announcement my mother took the call and learned that one of our uncles had suffered a heart attack and died.  It was a strange coincidence, I’m not psychic or anything, but I’ve never forgotten it. Maybe this helps to explain the little jolt of anxiety a ringing phone still gives me.
  2. If it’s a telemarketing or solicitation call it’s hard for me to be anything but dismissive and rude.  It’s impossible to but in because they never shut up, so I just talk over them and then hang up.  After that I put their number on our  blocked list.
  3. It is really frustrating to have difficulty understanding what is being said, especially if someone talks very quickly or has an accent.  I’m so much better face to face.

Whoa. That last one is the biggest reason.  I stopped after I wrote it and went off to do some research and this resulted in (YAY!) yet another list.  Check out this site for the full version.

When you have a high frequency hearing loss, you may have trouble:

– following conversations (hear but can’t understand).
– talking on the phone.
– understanding TV shows or movies even when you turn the volume up.
– understanding young children’s voices because they tend to be higher in pitch
– enjoying music because it sounds distorted, especially at higher volumes.


– people think you aren’t listening to them or accuse you of having selective hearing

– you accuse people of mumbling

– you answer questions inappropriately or miss punch lines

– you smile and nod even though you have no clue what the hell is going on

Well that explains a lot. Why I turn the radio off with a sigh of relief.   Why I always have subtitles running across my screen no matter what I’m watching.  Why I can hear some things from rooms away but never the stove timer.  Why my mumbling grandchildren are so hard to understand,  and why they get so exasperated having to repeat themselves for me.

Sorry guys.  It’s not JUST senility.  Maybe I do need to seriously consider that hearing aid I was told I was borderline for needing.  Or I could wait until I can no longer even hear the phone ringing at all.  Decisions, decisions. Meanwhile, practicing that cat face but adding nodding and smiling to it.

Invisible Boxes

Today is Marcel Marceau’s birthday, world’s best known mime.  (I’ve just been reminded of how much I hate playing charades.)  And that’s also made me think of a woman I talked to yesterday who said she hears better with her glasses on.  We do seem to express and understand each other better using all of our senses at once, and body language is a great communicator.  Any time you narrow communication down to just a phone call or just a text message something is bound to be lost or go missing.  Virtual hugs are just not the same as the real ones.

All my life I’ve had selective hearing and been able to tune things (or people) out;  sort of like being able to put myself in my own little invisible sound proof box.  It’s a talent that has it’s up and down sides.  Lately I’ve been blissfully ignoring things I should be paying attention to without any conscious effort on my part.  And that’s called getting progressively more deaf.  I suppose I should go and have my hearing tested again and see how many more sound wave lengths have been added to my list of the ones I am unable to detect.  I’m still happily in denial most of the time, believing that people mumble a lot, especially if I’m not looking at them.

We had a young girl with MS come in for an eye exam last night.  She walked unsteadily with a cane, and had one of us fill out her paperwork for her because she finds it difficult to write legibly.  She was cheerful and upbeat and described some of her challenges and visual problems with humor and a smile.  I got the feeling that any kind of pity from us would not be appreciated and that she wanted to be treated like anyone else.  I thnik it’s important to respect that there are a lot of people out there whose personal  invisible boxes are strong ones and that they’re not comfortable sharing what’s inside them with the rest of the world.  Then there’s the rest of the population who thrive on attention and bare their souls to anybody who will listen.  I’ve had people sit down and tell me things I have no business knowing.  Apparently I have a tuned out stare that gets mistaken for rapt attention.

I have one more shift to get through and then I can officially GOOF OFF, celebrating International Goof Off Day a day late.  Because it is actually today, not tomorrow.  Or if you’re me, it’s pretty much every day of the year, so it’s okay to put it off, especially if you’re going to be celebrating it more than once.

It’s not that I don’t get anything done – I do.  But I’ve learned to take a lot of breaks, before, during and after the fact.  It’s always good to step back and look at the big picture.  If you step back far enough you’ll lose sight of why it was so damned important, and after another step or two you might even forget why you had to do it at all.  If it’s worth doing, it will probably keep until tomorrow.  Unless it’s an unpaid bill with a due date on it, in which case goofing off should be your second choice.

Spring allergies are a really good excuse to sit inside with a box of tissues and a good book if that’s your preferred method of goofing off.  Try to save the really explosive sneezes for whenever someone else is within hearing distance.  Like your spouse, who thinks you’re just sitting around doing nothing when you’re actually SUFFERING TERRIBLY and can’t get up to do something so mundane as preparing dinner.  Or you could just pretend you didn’t hear him come home.  Mime being trapped in an invisible box.  Leave some fast food coupons on the table where dinner usually appears.  If he’s hungry enough he’ll figure it out.

And THAT reminds me, although I’m not sure why, that I need to find the list I made two days ago and have been adding to and ignoring, so that I can add a couple more things to it and actually go shopping after work tonight instead of deciding to go home and goof off and do it tomorrow.  Being a responsible adult is such a pain I don’t know why anyone aspires to become one.  But I shall fight my way out of my invisible box of procrastination.  The sooner I get things done, the sooner I can get back to seriously goofing off.