Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Phone Calls That Make Us Cringe

Mara here. In the interest of full disclosure I will state up front that pretty much every phone call I get makes me cringe. I'm not a fan of the phone. But there are definitely some calls that are more cringe-worthy than others.

It's August. This means a few things: it's hot, it's my birthday month, and back to school stuff is in the stores again. Nowadays, many schools start their fall sessions in August. When I was growing up, school didn't start until September, after Labor Day, but because of the emphasis on state testing, schools are starting their years earlier and earlier.

So, this evening I was jarred to see Malia's school pop up on my incoming calls. Six weeks off of school, and I'd kind of forgotten that school existed. But here it was, the first week of August and they were calling me. 

A phone call from Malia's school always makes my heart stop. It's a knee jerk reaction from when she was in elementary school. She's old enough now that she can call me herself from her cell phone if she has a problem, so phone calls from the school are mostly perfunctory. They're calls about absences or school announcements. But when she was younger, a phone call from the school was always bad. It meant she was injured, she was sick, or she had lice. (There were several bad lice outbreaks when she was in kindergarten.) 

So, even now, almost a decade later, when her school shows up on my incoming calls, it causes me to catch my breath. Tonight when they called I actually froze for a moment—as if they could see me sitting there not answering the call, which is extra silly because almost all the calls from the school are automated robo-calls. 

People who know me, know that I don't like the phone in general. I am super self-conscious talking on the phone. So for the most part, I'm not a huge fan of getting phone calls, but there are a few phone calls that I particularly dread getting. Here's the top three:

Malia's school. As I explained, it always freaks me out because I assume it means there's something wrong with her. However, nowadays it usually means she's tardy which, while annoying, isn't really a cause for concern. I can't seem to get my nervous system to realize this.

The doctor. We have Kaiser health care. We really like our coverage, but the way they work, they don't call unless there's something wrong. So after I've had any kind of tests done, getting a phone call from Kaiser usually means bad news. If it's good news, they send a letter. A phone call means they need to get ahold of me quickly. 

Malia. Malia knows I don't like to talk on the phone [Toni note: so do I!]. So, 99% of the time she texts me. But when she's sick or upset (or rear ended in a parking lot), she calls. So when I see her name pop up on my incoming calls, I know there's a good chance it's not good news. Sometimes she's just calling me because she can't be bothered to type out what she wants to say. (She has actually called me from her bedroom to ask for a salad.) But the worrier in me always fears the worst.

Runner up: Reverse 911 calls. This has only happened twice. Both times were about shootings in our neighborhood. It's unnerving to get a phone call from the police telling us not to leave our house. Now that we don't have a landline anymore, I'm not sure we can still get these call, but they were very scary when they happened!

Toni here. Here are three phone calls I dread getting:

A call on my cell phone from one of my kids. They know I'm one of the few people who doesn't use a smart phone. I have an iPhone, but it sits in my purse so I have it when I go out. It's there in case of an emergency so, for example, I can call someone if my car breaks down. So, if one of my two grown children shows up on my caller ID, my heart sinks. So far, it's been a mistaken "pocket" dial on their part. Whew!

A call from my primary care doctor. The reason I dread this call is that all of my communications with him out of his office are either by email or on a website called My Chart. So, if he's calling, it's always bad news, such as an unwelcome test result (just as Mara said about Kaiser).

That phone call about a free trip I've supposedly won to see a condo in Florida. I get this call every single day right now. It fools me because my caller ID indicates it's coming from a phone number in the town where I live (our area code covers a small area). I always take the bait in case it's someone who needs to talk to me. Instead, this cheerful voice starts in with "Hello! This is your lucky day!" I don't think so.

What about you? Are there phone calls you dread getting?


  1. I dread phone calls from any medical est, just because. I don't like to answer calls from someone who likes to talk for hours about nothing in particular ( the exception is a person I haven't talked too in years that I'm excited to hear from, but it is still exhausting). Phones exhaust me. Telemarketers anger me and I end up yelling "take me off your list"!! Once after minor surgery, under the influence of narcotics, I booked a vacation I had no "real' intention of going on! Lost $150. on that one!.

    1. Yes, I agree-phones exhaust me too! I never really know what to say to people on the phone which makes me super awkward. Thank you for reading!--M