I also tend to avoid my voicemail inbox like the plague, which is why I never promise to return your call if you leave me a message

My family is not big on telephone communication, and by "my family", I'm including myself. I remember using the (landline) phone more when I was in junior high and high school, but even then, I was hardly the stereotypical teenage girl who could never get off the phone. I distinctly remember starting to feel a definitive disinterest for phone calls during college, especially when so many of them were heated conversations ("arguments") with boyfriends.

Either way: we're not phone people. My mom and I e-mail several times a week, and that's about it. When she does call, it's usually for an immediate purpose (do you know where this document is, I'm at the grocery store and they have almond milk on sale but I can't remember what kind you like, etc.)– everything else can be communicated online. This has resulted in my always making sure to answer my phone when I see that she's calling, because she never calls "just to say hi". She bought an answering machine for the house phone in order to avoid people who do just that.

My dad and my sister, on the other hand, NEVER call me (and vice versa). *This* has resulted in my momentarily freaking out whenever I see that they're calling, because my first reactionary thought is: "Something bad has happened to my mom and they're calling me to tell me the bad news because whatever has happened is so bad that she's not capable of calling me herself which means she's either unconscious or in an ambulance or dead."

Example 1: My sister called me a month ago. I was at work and had my phone on silent (as I always have it, actually), and didn't see the missed call until an hour or so later. She'd left a message, so I listened to it (with apprehension), but all it amounted to was, "Hey, call me back." And she didn't sound like she'd been crying, and I hadn't also missed a call from either of my parents, so I knew she hadn't called with bad news about someone in our family and I figured it also wasn't about one of her pets dying. Which left me stumped, because I couldn't think of any other reason why she would call. But she hadn't been crying, so it couldn't have been urgent. Maybe my mom had been bugging her to call me in order to nurture a sisterly bond? In which case, definitely not urgent.

I called her back after I was done with work, which ended up being a lot later that night– and as it turned out, the news was simply that her boyfriend had proposed and they were going to be married next year and I was going to be a bridesmaid, and so on. So, good news! It was a good news! call. And yet had she simply e-mailed the news to me, I honestly don't think I'd have been surprised or dismayed at the communication channel of choice. Precedents, after all. The only other phone calls I really remember from my sister are: her cat died (2000?), my cat wasn't moving (2005), and "What do you want to eat for Thanksgiving?" (2008, but she knew I was in my car en route to San Diego at the time, so obviously e-mail would have been a poor choice).

Example 2: My dad called me on Friday. While I was at work (which he knew), and while he was at work (well, actually, it might have been one of the Fridays he has off). I panicked, answered immediately, and the first words out of my mouth were: "Hi, what's wrong?"

Yeah. Nothing was wrong. There was just paperwork on my house loan that needed to be signed ASAP and he needed to know when I was flying back to Vegas, and was there any way I could get back by Tuesday? (My flight was already scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning, so that worked out perfectly.)


There's not really a point to these anecdotes, but if I had to English-major one up, I'd say it's that I apparently only think that disastrous news warrants a phone call from my family. Which says something about either how easy it is to get a hold of me via e-mail, or how much I really hate being on the phone.


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