Phoning It In

Don’t take it personally, but if you call my phone and expect to talk to me at that exact moment, you’ll probably get my voicemail.

This is (probably) not because I hate you.

This is because I hate talking on the phone.


I don’t really regard this as anti-social behavior—I have plenty of those that I can easily identify—because I will text, email and talk face-to-face with no issue, at least for a short amount of time.

And I also understand the importance of talking on the phone in certain circumstances and do so when the situation requires it, but for the most part, I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid using it for more than casual check-ins.

I know this can be annoying, but I have my reasons.  


I don’t like not knowing when the call is coming in. When forced to engage in spontaneous conversation without warning, I don’t have time to think up an appropriate reply. This means I could get caught saying any number of ridiculous things simply because I couldn’t prepare what would most likely be an equally ridiculous excuse quick enough.

I do better if I am initiating the phone call myself, as I can prepare  for the communication and  sometimes even "rehearse" the call by going over possible responses in my head. But random ringing? No bueno. 

Thank goodness for caller ID.


Much like the way I fail to gracefully exit a physical situation, I also fail to gracefully exit a phone conversation. Well, I take that back. I have no problem exiting a phone conversation. It’s getting others to realize that I want to exit the conversation about five minutes ago that’s the problem.

You see,  “long story short” is usually anything but. When my exaggerated sighs and verbal hints to wrap things up and get to the point are ignored in favor of minute story details, I am forced to start banging pots and pans or slamming doors to give the illusion of being extrasuperbusy.

But if all else fails, I can always use the “my phone cut out” excuse. Given the fact that my phone is cheap and does cut out often, this probably isn’t a lie.


Despite “great” reception, people often end up talking over each other on the phone. Conversations usually end up sounding like they’re on some sort of tape delay and consist of both people talking at the same time, and then pausing, and then talking again at the same time, and then pausing…

It’s completely disjointed and frustrating, and by that point I will have simply forgotten why I called you in the first place. Then I will remember that you probably called me.

I rarely dial out.


Here’s the deal. People are always doing other things while they’re talking on the phone. Unless they’re chained to a landline, you can bet they’re watching TV, surfing the Interwebs, driving or—lord help me—on the crapper while attempting to carry on a conversation.

If you’re going to call me, please focus on that and not if anyone “liked” your witty Facebook status. And if I’m in a bathroom and hear you on your phone telling someone that you’re at your desk or the mall, I will continuously flush the toilet for no reason other than to blow your cover.

If you have a problem with this, just have your people call my people—and leave a message at the tone.

This post was in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:

Bad Habits

(it was so hard to pick just one)

Like the blog? Buy the book.

37 responses to “Phoning It In

  1. Here here! I despise talking on the phone. I type faster than I talk anyway, and that way I get to edit myself a little….

  2. Yes! Exactly! What you said!
    Did I mention I agree?

  3. Melanie The Spork Lover

    Thank you. I HATE phone conversations. I can only have more than five minute calls with my best friend, with whom they seem to work. Otherwise when someone calls I expect them to just tell me what they needed to tell me and I’m off. I have no problem telling people, “I really don’t like talking on the phone. You can come over if you need to talk, but I really don’t want to hang on the phone an hour.” Even one of my best girlfriends who is out of state, hears from me every few months. I just don’t like the phone.

  4. My friends just don’t understand how serious I am about this. I tell them repeatedly, DO NOT CALL ME TO CHAT, I WILL NOT ANSWER. And yet, when they call and I don’t answer, they’re so confused. Kills me.

  5. Hmm…the only thing worse than answering the phone for me is getting a voicemail. I HATE VOICEMAILS. If i see a missed call, I will call you back. Don’t leave me a vm. PLEASE.

    • I would add “don’t sit through my whole voicemail greeting only to hang up once it beeps and you’re supposed to leave a message, meaning it still shows up as a message I have to delete.” I still know you called, but now I know you called, sat through my greeting and couldn’t be bothered to tell me why you called so I could just text you back instead. Curses!

      • I actually turned my voicemail function off, for this exact reason.

        My friends and family go crazy and constantly tell me to TURN MY VOICEMAIL BACK ON! But what’s the point? If you can’t wait until I return your call, then text me. Or email. Or send smoke signals or a carrier pigeon. But don’t leave me a fucking voicemail. Because I won’t listen to it.

  6. Oh heck yes. I am working on a post about this too (so people will leave me alone about it)…

    There is a 1% chance I will ever answer my phone unless I can see that it is absolutely necessary. And if people are not okay with me texting, emailing, facebooking, or tweeting back, they are just going to have to live with their disappointment. I will only return calls if I have to, and if I have a way of ensuring that the conversation is limited and has a definite exit strategy: ie I have to get in a car, out of a car, carry in groceries, go to a meeting.

    The reasons I do this include that I don’t like speaking out loud when I don’t feel like it, period. Also, I don’t even put my ringer on, ever – and in fact I turn my phone over, like it is now, when I have it near me. I don’t want to have to respond to someone if I don’t want to. Plus the interruption is unwelcome.

    But most of all there is the general awkwardness, small talk, social etiquette, rules, and so forth that you mentioned. You never know when its going to end or who should talk when. And I feel resentful at having to listen to someone when I don’t want to anymore. There is no body language to read, and its just a mess. No thank you. There has to be a name for this condition other than “Introvert” that can garner sympathy from the crowd so they don’t take it personally when you email back from a voice message.

  7. I’m the same way. I’m working during the day and after 6:00 I’m drinking. I have no time to chat. Kinda sad, actually. I recall endless hours of talking on the phone with girlfriends as a teenager. But that was before the thought of my own mortality and therefore how I want to spend what is a rapidly diminishing amount of time crossed my mind.

    Good post, Abby.

    • Ha! Perfect reply. I remember thinking I should want to sit on the phone and gab with girlfriends as a teenager like the other girls, but then I would remember the ballgame was on and tell them I would see them tomorrow (crimped hair and all.)

  8. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    I’m just not a phone person. The last relationship I was in my boyfriend worked out of town a lot and would always say “Well I guess I won’t be talking to you for a while”.
    “Nope. You can email me if you want. See you when you get back.”

  9. Good job on this one, Abby! I love caller ID, too! It’s great for avoiding those people you just don’t want to waste your time!

  10. I actually like talking to people and hearing their voice. Things get so weird virtually and via email/text. Its hard to be sarcastic and if you forget to email someone back, you thing they hate you 😉

    • I agree with you, as like I said, there are most certainly times when the phone is preferable. The other 99 percent of the time? Just hit “send.”

  11. I could have written this – I hate, hate talking on the phone. I like things in writing, there’s no arguing about what anyone “said” later. I had to make a phone call today, and spent hours avoiding it, then when I got it out of the way, I felt like I didn’t need to do anything else today. It’s just such a chore.

    • That’s my main reason for preferring email at work, as there’s always a paper trail so you can never misquote. Proof, people. Proof! Work with me here…

  12. I don’t pick up personal calls if I don’t recognize the number, or I pick up, hit “mute” and listen for clues as to who is calling me before I decide to speak. At work, though, I never ever pick up my phone. 99 percent of time, its a PR pitch, and the other one percent of the time, its my mom.

  13. 99% of the time, I hate talking on the phone. Texting is so great because you can make your point and then get on with your day. I do love talking to my mom and my best friend, but other than that… text me or be prepared to leave a message at the *beep*

  14. Oh, and oh, how wonderful to meet so many people who are phone-phobic like me. It’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one.
    Ahhhh . . . smiling sigh!

  15. I hate the phone. I never have anything to talk about and am very awkward. I’m more impressive over text or email.

  16. You are not alone on this one. I have become like this in a way that I never did before. It’s the whole cell phone thing and people feeling like you are accessible anytime, anywhere. My cue to end a conversation usually goes like this, “Well, okay… let’s talk soon.”

  17. ugh… know I;ve written about my text/computer freak home. Look, it’s damn phone call. Trust me, unless you’re breaking down how the Tigers are playing the Braves in the world series then the phone call will last less than a Ramones song…but ok…

    which reminds me…we need to trade emails about what the Tigers lineup will be like with Prince Fielder.

  18. Fellow phone-phobe here, too! That’s why I think texting is the greatest invention of all time.

  19. Is it wrong that I choose babysitters based on their willingness to plan everything via text?

  20. I love this, so many like minded people. I am not a paramedic, or a fireman or a counseller or a doctor. I do not need to answer a mobile. I am a bit mental, a busy working mum with my own business, and another job too. I do carry my mobile (sometimes) I do use it (sometimes). I do not answer it, or pick up voicemails or call you back. I do read and send text messages. I do not want to talk to you.. unless it suits me.

  21. Amen. To everything. And please tell me why conversing via email, text, or face-to-face is such a bad thing? I mean, what’s so damn great about the phone? Seriously, phone people, what’s so effin’ great? Maybe you’ll change my mind.

  22. I totally agree with you despite the fact that I’m usually the one calling and having to hear the other person’s outgoing voice message. Then it puts me in the crap ass position of having to be the one getting a phone call later in the day when I’m not in the mood to talk anymore. I was calling because I wanted to talk right then. Not when it’s more convenient for you. I have a life too (well at least I try to pretend like I do). Fortunately for them, I will usually answer my phone because I hate playing phone tag and I also hate having text conversations. They take a hell of a lot longer and because my cell phone sucks, I have to keep erasing what I wrote because my keys are so dang close together. I miss the old days of calling, someone answering, talking, hanging up and calling it a day. Hmmm, sorry if that sounded rude. Wasn’t meant to be. I heart you Abby 🙂

  23. ha, you sound like me!! and you know whats the best part about new zealand?? NO PHONE!

  24. You said it better than I ever could have… 😉

  25. Ha! That is so great! I like being the person to call someone first, too. I admit, most of the time it is in the car because my kids are strapped into their car seats. By the way, wanted to congratulate you on having the #1 blog on Studio 30 Plus! You deserve it!

    • kelleysbreakroom

      Loved that you posted this for #findingthefunny this week. My grandmother is the worst about getting off the phone. “Okay, well, I’ll let you go, but first…how’s your sister?” “Okay, well, I know you’re busyhowarethekids?”

  26. I dislike the telephone as well. I use the phone at work, for work related things. I rarely answer my cell, I will call back, sometimes days later. (Except mom, dad, my husband, or my editor I’ll answer on the first ring.)

    I believe this is because I’m an avid reader and an equally avid writer. Writing is my preferred medium for communication. Texting. Emails. As long as I’m not on the joke-circulation list, I’ll read it and respond happily and immediately.

    Thank you for expressing my feelings. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  27. I am totally with you on this one. I loathe phone conversations.

  28. I have always disliked talking on the phone. And then worked as a receptionist. And now as a vet I have to talk to clients on the phone all the time. This has led to me hating and avoiding the phone as much as possible in my personal life. I have to try to tolerate it for work, I would like to be free of it away from work.

    BUT. if I MUST call someone, lord help them if I have to deal with a computer first. If I’m going to have to use the phone, I’d much rather talk to a real live person, thankyouverymuchairlines. UGH. (some fresh bitterness here after a recent weekend fighting with multiple different automated menus related to airlines. . . )

    My most favourite clients at work do one of two things: make an appointment when they want to talk to me about something (I won’t necessarily charge for these appointments, because I would rather talk face to face versus over the phone 9 times out of 10), or they prefer email communications (SO DO I!!!)

    I can chat for hours over gchat or MSN messenger. . . but get me on the phone, and I will not likely have much to say ;P

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