Birthdays and what-nots

It’s Steve’s 40th birthday next Sunday. I’ve been working hard on a variety of gifts and I’m not telling you what they are because they are a surprise, but you will see them and if I do say so myself, I’m quite impressed. Hopefully, we’ll have a bit of a party or a meal or something, even if it is just the three of us, though I think Steve’s got cabin fever at the moment as he’s just been out for a four-and-a-half hour walk. Luckily, he told the boy where he was going otherwise I’d have sent out the rescue party. Jake got a blackberry phone for Christmas which is lovely and shiny, so he can text Steve and vice versa.

I’m still phoneless. I was kind of hoping for Jake’s old phone, but never mind. It was his Christmas present from me two years ago, so it’s not the newest of models. In fact, it was second-hand then, since he wanted the same one as Jasmin. I paid for his contract for that first year, and then for a few months when we came out here – though it was too hard for some people to understand that it cost ME a lot of money for THEM to text him when they could have used Facebook and when my contract was up, I didn’t renew either of ours.

I like being phoneless mostly. It stops annoying intrusions. It was keeping me rather than me keeping it, and it’s amazing how annoyed people are if you miss a call or don’t text back, like you become instantly at their beck and call.

Jake’s a prime example.

“Why hasn’t Jasmin text me back?”

This was an hour after he sent a text to her. She is working today and it’s a Saturday and a busy day, so it’s not a surprise. She’d be getting the sack if she was texting everyone back. It’s part of that instant gratification society. I want. I want NOW.

But people have that expectation that phone calls will be answered instantly and the only time it’s not acceptable for them to phone is when you are either on the toilet, on a plane or at a funeral. Other than that, you’re fair game.

And mostly, phone calls involve someone giving you work if you are employed, or cold calls if you are self-employed.

Do I want a bigger slot in the Yellow Pages? Do I want a slot in such-and-such newsletter? Do I want to pay £150 for them to put me in touch with someone who might want my services? Do I want to buy a slot in their charity newspaper for a good cause? If my number is a business number that is in the public domain, that gives cold callers free reign to use it too to offer me their shite.

If you work, it goes like this: have you done that report? could you do this report? could you do this job? could you just do this whilst you do that? could you just get in touch with such-and-such and find out what they want? Can you do this? If you’re unlucky, you won’t even get a nice little question. You’ll get a ‘do that report!’. If you’re very unlucky, your boss thinks it’s okay to send you this message via a phone call at 11:36 on a Sunday night. True story. Some bosses have no mobile phone etiquette and even fewer boundaries.

Only bosses make phone calls. Minions answer them.

A phone makes me a minion.

Of course, it would be good if I had people ringing me to offer me jobs. This sometimes happens. I get some phone calls from people who say ‘we’ll pay you to do this…’ which is exactly what I want. However, 90% of my calls are of the ‘would I like a slot for 350€ that will go to 6000 people?’

Nobody, but nobody ever rings to say: “Do you want me to do this for you, and whilst I’m doing it, shall I also do this? It won’t cost you anything. In fact, it might make you some money.’

Phone calls never reduce work. Unless you’ve been sacked via text. Or unless you are a boss and you are using it to teleport your tasks to someone else’s ‘to do’ list.

When S&J go back, I shall have to get a phone. I will need to be able to call the ambulance when I fall down a mountain, or the fire service when I set fire to my head in the forest. I will need to ring my dad to say ‘my tyre has burst’ so he can tell me he has no idea what I want him to do and then I will need to ring my mum to say the same thing so she can talk me through changing a tyre *addendum/amendment. Steve says it’s a wheel that gets changed. So my mum can talk me through changing a wheel. Maybe I can ring Steve to find out what bits of cars are called so I can stand corrected*.

In reality, other than telling people I’ve fallen in the forest or the car has broken down, my mobile will not get much use. I bet it will end up in the car losing its charge until it is needed and then the battery will be dead. And then I’ll realise ‘you know what? Shit happened and you survived it without a mobile phone, just like people used to do in the early 90s!’

Not for me that life I used to live, permanently connected via my thumbs to the world.  Not only can I not afford the contract any more, I just don’t need it. I’ve weened myself off the heroin addiction of a phone. In fact, my mum uses hers more than I plan on using mine. My nana definitely does. Spending 40€ on a phone contract seems ridiculous. I’ll be a PAYG girl with a cheap phone and no texts. Don’t get me wrong. I miss it! But it’s still nice to have the time it frees up NOT to have it and I sure don’t miss endless calls from tyre-kicking clients who want to ask if I can pay them to for me to teach their child. It did drive me crackers to get 10 phone calls a week from people who pay their cleaners more than they would spend on their child’s extra or additional class and want to bicker about my cheapness, which just isn’t cheap enough for them. Priorities, people!

So Steve shall not be getting a mobile for his birthday. He already has one. I don’t want one for mine, either. And just in case you were wondering why I am talking about my birthday when it is MILES away, it is because next December it is THE BIG ONE and 40? Wow! That’s really old! I was 18 by the time my mum was 40. What a terrifying thought!

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2 thoughts on “Birthdays and what-nots

  1. Having worked in the city, I can assure you that being in the toilet is no reason for some people not to answer their phones – and they then merrily proceed to tell the caller that is where they are!

    Simon’s favourite cold callers are the ones who begin by announcing that they can reduce his mobile phone bill. He loves leading them on and then telling them his monthly bill is less than £2.

    I remember reading, many years ago (in the 1960s) about a man who refused to have a telephone because he wasn’t going to have a bell in his house that anyone in the world could ring.

    1. I think I would never speak to someone again if they answered their phone in the toilet! I think I may take the sensible advice of that man without his telephone. Is it sense or just social phobia?!

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