I'm just going about my daily business, thinking vaguely of what to make for dinner and whether or not the towering stack of laundry will magically clean itself if I procrastinate long enough, when I absentmindedly pick up my phone to check something and suddenly I see it. There it is, lurking horrifically on my phone's lockscreen: a missed call message. My stomach instantly plummets to the floor, and I take a deep breath before swiping my trembling finger from left to right to see what's on the next screen. Oh please, I pray, but it's no good. Red as a drop of arterial blood flung from a killer's knife, a notification icon screams from the top of the voicemail button.
Dear God. Someone called me. I have a voicemail. And I'm probably going to have to call them back.
A whistling sort of shriek opens up inside my brain like a cold wind blowing through a pitch-black moor. My worst fear -- using my phone for PHONE CALLS -- is coming true, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. The only thing that could possibly make this situation more terrifying is if a nest of poisonous baby spiders suddenly burst out of the earpiece.
When I was younger, I could talk on the phone for hours and hours. I remember entire evenings as a phone-obsessed middle schooler, lying on my back in my bedroom and balancing the body of our rotary dial on my feet while I twirled the pig-curl electrical cord and gossiped with friends.
I'm not exactly sure when my love for the telephone transformed into a full-blown phobia, but I suspect it grew with the increasing prevalence of cellphones. Where two people once had civil, uninterrupted conversations from the relative quiet of a house or office, now people talk as they stroll down streets or drive through tunnels. Having a mobile phone means you can be contacted anywhere at any time, and so can the person you're calling. It may be convenient, but how I miss the assurance that when you rang someone up, they were actually at HOME.
The bottom line is that cellular communications are different from the old-school landlines in a thousand different ways, including weird digital delays and screwy frequencies that trigger an unending stream of unintentional interruptions so every conversation feels less like a pleasant chat and more like an awkward ham radio transmission. I mean, honestly, how often do you find yourself going, "Oh sorry, go ahead" when you're on a cellphone? ALL THE DAMN TIME THAT'S HOW OFTEN.
Take the fact that I hate the experience of talking on the phone, and add in my reliance on the phone as a mini-computer, and I've come to find myself reacting with complete shock whenever my phone has the audacity to spring into life with a ringtone. But I thought we agreed you were a CAMERA and EMAIL MACHINE, I think resentfully. WHY ARE YOU BURDENING ME WITH THIS HORRIFIC REAL-TIME RADIO LINK PROTOCOL BUSINESS?
A ringing phone is bad enough, but a missed call is the absolute worst. Because if they leave a message, I have to confront my fears and actually deliberately initiate the nightmare by calling them back. Or if I know they're going to call ME back but I don't know when, I spend my entire day staring suspiciously at my phone, dreading the Transformers-like moment when it's going to switch from a harmless device into an instrument of PURE EVIL.
In conclusion, I admit I have issues -- but for God's sake, don't call me on them. Text me.
Do you have a cellphone phobia too? Let's discuss from the relative safety of the comments section.
Image via Zazzle