I know many people appreciate the telephone. I am not one of those people.
When my telephone rings, I panic. This may have something to do with my thought processes.
Here is what I think:
What does this person want?
What the hell is any of it to do with me anyway?
The telephone is my least favourite communication tool. As a means of information exchange, I prefer the homing pigeon.
It is the perfect emissary — humble, eco-friendly, and steadfast. It can be trained to deliver messages of all kinds – even medications. It is also intelligent. Some scientists think it recognises itself in the mirror.
Homing pigeons are brave. Thirty-two got decorated in World Wars 1 and 11 because they became avian battlefield phones. They won the Dickin medal. This is awarded to animals of land, air and sea who display “conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units.”
I have great respect for communication devices that acknowledge themselves in mirrors and win valour prizes.
My telephone would never win a Dickin medal. It would also fail to recognise itself in the mirror.
However, I live in a world where pigeon post is perished. I must work with what’s here and now and they are my landline and mobile phone.
Of the two, landlines scare me more. It’s harder to avoid them. To reduce my fear, I’ve developed a strategy.
We have a landline at our house that we never answer unless callers use The Code.
The Code is given only to friends, relatives and employers. (Although I think I’ve only told half of them.) Telemarketers and stalkers do not know The Code.
The Code is easy for anyone to use.
When they do, I know it’s someone to whom I have given it. I don’t mind talking to these people. But not for too long.
Most of my friends and relatives think The Code is ridiculous. They call my mobile instead. Or they mostly text. This is because I hate answering mobile phones almost as much as I loathe answering landlines.
I tolerate mobile phones because they have a texting option. I like texting. It’s simple and fast. Also, mobile phones have a Contact menu. All my tribe is on this menu and their names appear on screen when they call. I’m happy to talk with these people. But not for too long.
I’ve detested the telephone for years and I wish there were less songs about this overrated invention. I hear them everywhere. Here are some I would like expunged from playlists:
Rikki, Don’t Lose that Number (Steely Dan):
“Rikki don’t lose that number. You don’t wanna call nobody else.”
Rikki, it’s OK. I absolutely do not mind if you lose that number. Especially if it’s mine. And you’re welcome to call somebody else. As long as it’s not me.
Ring, Ring (ABBA):
“Ring, Ring, why don’t you give me a call?
Ring, Ring, the happiest sound of them all.”
ABBA, a ringing phone is ghastly. And please don’t call me.
No Telephone in Heaven (The Carter Family):
“No telephone in heaven and a fear sprang in her eyes. I thought God had everything with Him up in the sky.”
Nope. That’s why it’s Heaven.
Please Leave a Message for Me (The Maharajas):
Please don’t. I prefer email. Or homing pigeons.
Telephone Line (Electric Light Orchestra):
“That’s what I’d say. I’d tell you everything. If you’d pick up that telephone, yeah, yeah, yeah, … Doowop dooby doo doowap doowah doolang.”
No wonder she’s not picking up the telephone. Would you?
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd):
“When I try to get through/ On the telephone to you/There’ll be nobody home.”
You bet there won’t. And even if there is, unless you know The Code I’m not answering.
Hanging on the Telephone (Blondie)
“I’m in the phone booth. It’s the one across the hall. If you don’t answer, I’ll just ring it off the wall.”
Deborah Harry, you are preposterous. Get off that phone and do something less obsessive. Your hair, perhaps?
Operator (Jim Croce):
“Operator, well could you help me place this call?”
Sorry Jim, I sent the operator home. Can it wait? Forever?
These people need to turf their phones and do something constructive. Like train a homing pigeon.
Read more by Claire Bell: Stone age secrets for mind and body