Dear other people, not me:
Do you startle every time the phone rings at 2 pm on a week day and the caller ID says Private Number or worse yet says Givat Ela or the letters strung together that mean the name of your children’s school?
When the phone rings at 2 pm and after I can breathe again, I determine the phone was not invented to communicate Information or Longing or Sentiments, but really created to effectively illustrate the sound of Emergency or Tragedy or Something Very Very Scary You Don’t Want to Know.
When I was a girl and the phone would ring at 2 pm, I wouldn’t hear it because I was in a classroom watching the minute hand tick closer and closer to the number 6 knowing that soon it would be time to exit this peanut butter clorox smelling classroom with its sad yellowy sponge cake walls.
I wish I was there now. I wish I was somewhere anywhere where the phone ringing at 2 pm didn’t startle me so.
I suppose I might have startled when I was a girl and the phone would ring at 11 pm and the blue haze from the evening news was the only light emanating from my parents’ bedroom, but that never happened because no one died then nor did they choke on hard-boiled eggs on the playground at recess nor did they accidentally touch peanut butter clorox and go into anaphylactic shock. No one except Jim O’Brien that time from the plane.
I suppose I was lucky.
You would think that in this day and age of John Denver ring tones and Kissy Kissy noises indicating that someone has sent a Sentiment or Information or Longing to you by Whatsapp that I would have discovered a way to not be so startled by the phone; that I would have figured out a way to reprogram my inner switch, to convince my bodily mechanisms that the ringing means
YOUR CHILDREN ARE FINE! JUST FINE! or
YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER AND YOU NEVER WILL! or
YOU’RE THE NEXT CONTESTANT ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT!
But I have not.
I suppose there are other people, not me, who don’t even hear the phone when it rings, or if they do, they don’t startle at the possible futures waiting on the other end of the line.
They imagine the word regnad, not danger because they see the world backwards from the way I see it and nothing looks frightening backwards except murder written on a mirror in blood.
I suppose there are other people, not me, who bless the phone every time it rings, feel deep inner gratitude for the wonders of technology.
And I suppose if I did this, I might not startle every time the phone rings at 2 pm.
I might bless the phone next time, as if it had just sneezed and we weren’t going to die because sneezing isn’t so dangerous anymore.
5 thoughts on “Letter to Other People, Not Me”
I keep my phone on silent virtually all the time. I never want to talk on it. Ha.
So so so true. I love that this is an international parenting truth. Whenever I see the school’s name I know it’s never with good news!
Like most of my worry, the anticipation is 99% of the time worse than the reality, though.
How is it that the phone has become an instrument of torture? I never thought about it but, reading your piece, I realized that, every time the phone rings, whilst not expecting a catastrophe, I don’t associate it with the possibility of good news.