Sunday, January 28, 2007

Can you hear me now?

I've inherited quite a few quirks from my father (God rest his soul):
I like to leave early when I'm due to be somewhere because you never know what may delay you along the way; I need to consult a multitude of maps before traveling anywhere and I rarely divert from the planned route; I get touchy and defensive when someone points out that I've said/done something wrong; and I hate talking on the telephone.

The first two quirks simply make me punctual and organized which is not a bad thing, and I'm working on overcoming the third (and making progress), but that blasted telephone phobia has hung me up more times than I care to admit (pun intended). I've tried analyzing this fear: I prefer to see people's faces and read their body language when I talk to them so I can better interpret what they're saying and gauge their reactions to what I'm saying; I don't like making calls because I may interrupt my callee while they're doing something important, and they'll either be too polite to say so and secretly loathe me, or they'll be short and abrupt and I'll limp away feeling dismissed and rejected [the line for grad students wanting to do their psyche dissertation on me forms here].
I don't mind receiving phone calls (especially since I got a DVR) and I don't even mind picking up a call and being put on the spot by a fellow church member soliciting volunteers - I've learned how to resist my people-pleasing urge to say "yes" to everyone and to instead say "Let me check my schedule and get back to you."
It's when the shoe is on the other foot that I begin to panic.

I hate asking for help over the phone. I would make the worst telemarketer in the world. I would sit there with my call list and try to analyze the likelihood of my interrupting my callee based on the time of day, their work schedule, the ages of their kids (don't call during bath time or wake sleeping babies), their current physical and/or mental condition (how much of a struggle is it for them to get to the phone), and the day's weather forecast (sunny=they're not home, snowy=they've struggled to get home and don't want to be bothered by phone calls, stormy=stay off the phone when you see lightning). I would then make two calls out of twenty, congratulate myself on my bravado, and call it a day.

I used to careen down mountainsides at 60 mph on my bicycle with less than an inch of rubber keeping me from becoming a permanent part of the pavement….yet it's talking on the phone that scares me. Go figure.

Case in point: yesterday I spoke in front of roughly 200 strangers at the DES induction ceremony, and what did I fret about for the entire day before? Having to make a hand-full of phone calls to find a replacement child-care worker for today's Worship service. Two hundred people in a theatre? No problem….One-on-one on the phone? Fugetaboutit!

Thanks Dad……couldn't I have inherited your love of flannel instead?

….and now here it is, your moment of Zen:

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