What’s the big deal? Jody makes phone calls all the time. She schedules doctor appointments. She argues with Comcast about why her rates have gone up. She even calls her husband, and her children. Why is this phone call different?
Her palms begin sweating. Her breathing becomes labored. She feels a little lightheaded. All of this drama just for a phone call to her sister-in-law. That’s nonsense, Jody decides. What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll ask about the kids? Maybe suggest getting together for dinner. That’s seems pretty straight forward. She’ll do it.
Of course Jody can’t just pick up the phone. She can’t just say, “Hi, how are you?” What would come next? She needs a follow-up to the opening line. Jody takes out her notebook. The one she keeps by her bedside to write down ideas she gets while trying to fall asleep. Those ideas that like to bounce around in her head, the ideas she will obsess about all night, if they are not written down.
Notes on the phone call: Hello. No, Hi! What if the other person doesn’t recognize her voice? What if Jody’s phone number isn’t in her sister-in-law’s contact list? She writes on her page: “Hi, this is Jody.” That’s good. That should work. Her sister-in-law would then say, “Hi! How are you?”
Jody continues to take notes. She writes down answers to several questions that might be posed to her. She will say she is fine. The kids are fine. (Always say everything is fine. No one needs to know what hell you might be going through. That’s private.) Jody will ask about her brother-in-law, their kids. Then she will wish her good luck with whatever project she is working on. She did her job. She was nice. Just because they never called her shouldn’t make a difference. She would be proud of herself for making the effort.
Jody held on to this paper for days. Weeks, before making that phone call. The day finally came. She decided it was time to muster up her courage. To dial the damn number and get it over with. She would be proud of herself. She will not let her childhood memories of her mother telling her to hang up the phone and stop bothering an aunt affect her anymore. That’s the past. This is the present. She can do it.
After about two weeks, Jody, after finishing her lunch, sat down on the couch, in the quiet family room. No distractions. She knew her sister-in-law would be home. Her kids were out of the house. Now is as good a time as any. With trembling hands, she pressed her sister-in-law’s number. It rang. Once. Twice. She picked up. “Hello?”
Jody read the words she had written down. “Hi, this is Jody. How are you?”
Everyone responds with, fine, how are you? Not this woman. Instead she asks, “How can I help you?”
“Um, I just wanted to say, hi. How are you?” Now Jody was shaking like a leaf. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. The response she got was unbelievable.
“If you don’t have anything to say, I’m busy. Goodbye.” The sister-in-law hung up.
And that’s why some people don’t make phone calls. And that’s why some people really like texts. And emails. There’s not much worse than dead air on the other end of the line.
So when my daughter told me she didn’t really like talking on the phone, I could relate. I text. I email. But when she does call, it makes me very happy!