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The telephone: Love it, hate it, miss it?


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I met my wife on the telephone. I started work at Taco Bell when I was 18. She was a shift leader. I knew her as well as any other person there, which wasn't well at all. I was incredibly shy. I wasn't focused on meeting girls, I was too nervous trying to be a cashier, though I thought she was cute. She was absolutely my type, but so was the assistant manager, who would become a very close friend (who was 100% never interested in me romantically). When you're 18 and a guy, everybody is your type, honestly. She, I found out later, was very shy as well. Because of my inability to socialize, and her kinda being my boss, she called me one evening at home (she looked up my phone number in the files with my application- bad girl!) under the pretense of telling me that "You really are not very good at this job, and I'd like to encourage you". She really thought that I was a fascinating individual, and that my quiet demeanor was because I was like a wise monk or something. She thought I would be her "Guru", her word (Oh, how wrong she was).

But, I was able to talk to her on the telephone, much easier at first than in person. So, the telephone was the "matchmaker" in that way, allowing us the ability to get to where we could start a friendship (we actually started dating fairly soon after, which went very very badly- but that's a different story). Before the ability to text or email, I would spend an hour nervously getting up the courage to call her after breaking up. I used to go to a local shopping center right by my house and use the payphone (!) for privacy (again, in the long, long ago before the phone was mobile- everybody here remembers). The telephone became part of our story. Up until a few years ago, I still remembered her Mom's old number. It was easier for me to talk on the phone, because of my difficulty being able to look people in the eyes. We got to know each other through long talks on the phone. (The decrepit shopping center is still there, but the phone is long gone)

When I started working again in 2018, Annette's voicemail messages of encouragement and being able to talk to her on lunch breaks were what got me through. Now, of course, I only have the voicemails I saved of her voice, but I'm so glad I have them. Most people these days seem to abhor talking on the phone, they'd rather text. My father-in-law didn't text or email. He was the only person I still talked to on the phone, and I have to tell you, it was nice. Maybe it's because there's no visual component, but it's actually easier for me to maintain a conversation on the telephone, for fear of dead air. I would bring up topics when he drifted off or was distracted. It was shocking to me when I did it. After the initial fear of making the call, once I got into it, it became easier. Even before I moved back in with my Mom, talking to her on the phone was much easier. Because there was a couple of weeks between calls, there was something to talk about, and for some reason I am easier for her to understand on the phone, even with her hearing loss. I can tell my Mom I love her on the phone- I can't do it in person. 

So it's like I'm grieving the loss of the telephone. With my father-in-law gone, I have absolutely no one to call on the phone except English as their third language prescription reps or bill payment takers. It's really rather sad and bizarre. I hate talking, and yet I have no one to hate talking to. Quite a funny pickle to be in. 

James

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I can relate to talk to people on the phone.  I still have a couple, but the majority are business or medical.  They’re cheery as it’s work, not personal.  I only did phone, back in the day, for long distance as I wanted to see people.  Now with forced isolation it’s that or Zoom.  Your situation is different mentally.  What bothers me is I am getting so restless because I can’t even get out and have chit chat at the store and lost a huge connection with lots of people volunteering.  I find I’m losing interest in the world with not being a part of it anymore.  I hear things but who do I share my opinions or reactions with?  I try when I talk to the few people I know, but I’m not totally there.  I factor in this surgery recovery as it’s made things so terribly difficult.  All I know is when our minds are not running on a full tank, the world and how we exist in it are off kilter.  Living like that for long periods changes people.  I hear about more shootings, anger and frustration.  I see it in myself.  My patience level is at its lowest ever.  

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James, working for the telephone company for 40 years, I spent the majority of my day on the phone. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was talk on the phone. It was the way for me to keep in touch with my parents and daughter though. I was never into long winded conversations as some people are. Now the phone is just a pain in the ass. I have no one to call. Any calls are robocalls or solicitations. I NEVER answer the phone. The only reason it's plugged in is on the off chance that it might be something important. I have free service as a retirement benefit.

I had a cheap cell phone to call my daughter across the country or use at our cabin. No use for it anymore. I don't understand the fascination with texting. It's as if people are afraid to talk to each other. Afraid I'm too old or stubborn to change with the times.

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Karen, in a roundabout way, it's kind of what I was intimating. I am certainly afraid to talk to people in real life, and now I don't have anybody to talk to on the phone. I never answer the phone, because it's nobody I want to talk to, but now I feel terrible that I didn't even pick up when I saw my father in law calling. The phone is kind of like missing a scab that you picked on slowly until it comes off- it kind of hurts when you're doing it, but it's strangely enjoyable and you miss it when it's gone. I'd love to have someone to have a long phone conversation with, because it's intimate in a way that my life will never be again. 

I did call center work and I know how it is to hate talking after a few hours or less, but after so long....you miss it. I hate the phone now because it can't bring back what I've lost. 

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Had to go back a really long way for this one James, but there was life before Ron. The phone was an important thing then. It meant I might get a call asking for a date.  lol  I guess that's what texting is about now, but I think they call it "hooking up". Each to his own, I guess.

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16 hours ago, KarenK said:

I spent the majority of my day on the phone. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was talk on the phone.

I had this problem with a friend, I'd be at work all day answering the phone and the moment I got home it'd ring and it'd be her, wanting to talk an hour and I couldn't get off and needed to go to the bathroom!  I should have just let the phone go but in those days we didn't have caller ID or answering machines.  She couldn't get that it was invasive to me.  If she'd talk five min. it'd be one thing, but her, never!  I also needed to fix dinner!  Bad timing!  And timing is everything, so is respecting other people's time and needs.  We drifted apart, I wonder why. ;)

George and I got to know each other through writing letters, I'd written a letter to the editor and he'd looked up my info and wrote to me, he told me I got a standing ovation at Promise Keepers.  For years I kept that news clipping of that letter on the wall.  It was responsible for us meeting.  When he first called me, I loved his voice, it put me at ease and was captivating, he had so much personality and it shined through.

My XF is Asperger's and I totally get why phone is easier for you, James, he also had social dysfunction and couldn't look people in the eye, tilting his head down/sideways a bit.  I always wanted to put him at ease.  When we first met I hugged him, not sure if it put him at ease or made him sweat like a Banshee, but my intent was pure.

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16 hours ago, KarenK said:

I don't understand the fascination with texting.

It doesn't require as much time or investment in others.  Can impart information quickly.  My daughter uses it.  Rarely even get that.

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I’m so glad Asperger’s was mentioned as my son is the same about phones / communication.  It’s very beautiful really your story about Annette.  And the hurt of the phone.  I always seem to have started my love affairs from a distance.  Writing letters at first as I’m 48 so back in my teens long distance calls were expensive.  Then with my person it was through text/voice/pictures etc when we weren’t together.  It is very sad isn’t it when your phone is suddenly a lonely place.  I feel it most in the mornings.  I’d wake up and the first thing I’d do is reach for my phone to see what he’d written and say hello before kid/cat then a longish morning chat over coffee.  It’s what makes this whole thing feel particularly vicious upon waking but anyone in this particular subtopic of the group knows this pain.  I’m sorry you’ve lost connection with people through the phone and I am thinking you will stumble on more of one kind or another not an Annette but if it’s your way of building a foundation to a friendship, you will build more.  Much love and warmth to you.

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Thank you, Elizabeth, I say it only to say you really CAN get to know someone through phone/writing, they are both effective tools of communicating from the heart, we miss facial inflections (tones in writing) but if I could get to know George THAT WELL through it (and my instincts about him were not only right, but understated!) they can be very true indeed.  When he died the phone's quiet was a trigger to me as he always called me on his work breaks (he worked opposite of me, starting work when I got off).  I hated the quiet of that thing...now it's my normal. :(

 

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Just got dumped with about a foot of snow........shovelled for an hour(with breaks)....Saw you peoples to the west of me with the washouts and floods, my heart goes out....Biggest natural disaster ever in Province of BC.....incredible year, Fires Spring and Summer, floods fall and Winter.....I see Washington State having their share of Floods also....How is

Oregon?

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Wow!  The cold freeze has started for us, snow above us, very close call this week!  This has been an "extreme" year, not looking forward to winter but summer was the worst one on record!  Hope winter isn't...

When I shovel I try to take breaks every 15 min. so I don't have a stroke!  It's very rigorous work!  ;)

 

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I’ve never seen a year like this either.  The summer was so bad.  Now the winter is starting out the same way.  Fires, hear extremes,  now flooding and so much damage.  A lot of people died from these too.  We don’t tend to get snow, but when we do it’s bad.  Seattle is built on forest land so very hilly.  It cripples the city.  

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I'm in the mountains, prime target for fire with all our trees, prime target for snow/ice/wind storms.  If there's a flood across our only way out...

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