Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Number Not in Service

In the best of circumstances, I do not relish talking on the telephone. But when it comes to using the phone to track down, coerce or finagle volunteers or sponsors for any of the myriad of non-profit organizations with which I am associated, well, then I use only the most derogatory words in my vocabulary to curse out Dr. Graham Bell.

Today I left one of several phone messages with a person I am hoping to bring on board for a conference I am helping plan. My halting voicemail went something like this: "I am so sorry for bothering you again about this. I feel like such a pain. But our conference is coming up and I wanted to find out for sure if you might, uh, be able to help, uh, I mean, would you be able to, uh, share your expertise with us and..."

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I don't know why I am so averse to asking people for things. In no other aspect of my life do I hold my tongue or feel even remotely inclined to do so. But when it comes to soliciting anything--from advice to services to money--my tone and delivery clearly convey my awkwardness. I don't want to be a bother. I don't want to impose. I want to leave you alone, but they won't let me.

The phone just makes it worse. If I'm lucky enough to actually reach the person instead of their answering machine, I have to contend with shoddy cell phone reception, a screaming child in the background, and a total lack of surety as to how my request will be taken.

Email is a completely different story. I'll ask you for the shirt off your back if I can do it in a carefeully constructed electronic missive. No awkward pauses. No confusion. No hemming. No hawing. If you don't want to give me your shirt, just hit "reply" and let me know. If you are feeling generous, you can throw it into a box and FedEx it to the address I included in my convincing letter. I'll even PayPal you the shipping fees.

Just don't call me, because I don't want to talk about it.


Veronica Mitchell said...

I once had to cold-call strangers to arrange speakers for a lecture series my church was hosting. One of the prospective speakers called me back, and as I walked to the phone, I stepped on the dog's tail, the dog screamed, I shouted, and the baby in my arms started to wail.

Hard to recover after that.

Glad email serves you better.

Lauren said...

That's me in a nutshell too.

Perhaps that is why you and I have probably ever talked on the phone once. Twice maybe.

Wendy said...


Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, man. I am TOTALLY phone phobic. Hate the phone, avoid the phone. Thank god for e-mail.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Same here. Much prefer the email. There is a lot less flop sweat involved.

jp said...

That's why I hated sales so much... having to use the phone (guess that's why I left that profession)! Email is a different story for me, too... I have loads of courage when I say things through my fingertips!

Mrs. Chicky said...

I hate the phone. Actually, hate is not a strong enough word. I avoid it as much as possible. So I feel your pain.

And? You've also just summed up why I blog.

T. said...

As a young child and a teen my parents thought that the phone was a permanent part of my anatomy. It was always glued to my ear.

Then I had children and grew up. (In that order.) Suddenly, my phone was my enemy, always ringing when I wanted it to be silent, always silent when I wanted it to ring.

Now, I just ignore it and it ignores me. Helps that I only have one phone line and dial up internet service. (Gotta love living in the sticks.)

Me and my computer however, have developed a close personal bond...

bubandpie said...

So I'm not alone in my phone phobia! I don't mind receiving phone calls (in the sense that I don't feel afraid of talking on the phone under those circumstances, though I still usually wish the caller would just go away). But placing a call just kills me - I put it off forever and that just makes it worse, because then I have to apologize for not having called earlier. As for answering machines, they're better if you don't actually want to talk to the person, and worse if you do (because by leaving a message you forgo the option of calling back - instead you have to wait by the phone wondering if the person has got the message or not). Sigh.