Interviewing for jobs has left me needing to actually answer my phone. Oh God, I hate answering the phone.
As a little girl I was normal, running to get the telephone, expecting some kind of unbelievable excitement on the other end whenever it rang. That was subdued to some extent when some freak began making prank calls to our home. Nothing scares me more than an anonymous enemy, heavy breathing on the other end of the line or someone standing outside the window in the dark. I actually shuddered as I wrote that line.
My PTSD with regard to phone communication began when I lived in San Francisco. My boyfriend was a junkie and all outside contact was undesirable. Either dealers were calling or bill collectors, no one else. I remember wanting to yank the objectionable appliance out of the wall and be free from its troubles.
As I moved on to North Carolina and eventually New Jersey, the phone never became my friend again. Unusual and unexpected calls always make me think someone has died. The person on the other end so rarely calls to say I’ve won money or a beauty contest.
My step-brother, Scott, could spit in anger over the fact that I don’t answer the phone. So could my niece, Samantha. I don’t know what I think will happen if I pick it up, but it’s something akin to having my blood marrow drained and my teeth sold for gold.
Weirder still is the fact that once I’m on the phone it’s all good. I never fail to have a million questions to keep the other person on the line much longer than they probably intended. As soon as the spell is broken, I’m ready to chat.
I should qualify that statement: I’m ready to chat so long as I’m not forced to sit through some type of berating over the fact that I (1) haven’t called and/or (2) haven’t answered. Let’s get this straight: if you’re angery with me over ANYTHING at all then I may never speak to you again, just to avoid the conflict. I hate conflict.
I had a friend, Alyce, who was in her late 70′s. Alyce called me quite often and I always knew she would hold me on the line no matter what I said about being busy. I could say, “Alyce, I’m burning the hair off my legs,” and she would tell me about her health aide’s failure to clean the toilet properly. Or she would say, “What product are you using to burn the hair off your legs? I might want to try it!” I stopped calling Alyce and she eventually stopped calling me. Then she died and it sucks so completely because now I’d talk to her twice a day if I could.
But did that teach me a lesson? Do I pick up the phone regularly now? No, of course not. I’m too much of an asshole to learn from prior failure.
Last week an unusual number popped up (I am an avid user of caller ID). There is always a part of me that feels like I should answer, like I’m missing out on life by walling myself off from the world. For whatever reason, I picked up. It was a man from Columbus, Georgia with a very heavy accent. I thought it was my brother, Scott, fucking with me. But it wasn’t. It was a boy I went to high school with, a boy I never spoke to in my entire life.
It was hysterical. He is a maintenance man for a motel and tawks like he gawt rawks in his mouth. I was kinder to him in conversation that I would be to a family member. My husband believes he called because I have myself listed as single on Facebook. Yes, I am anxious to begin a relationship with a man in Columbus, Georgia, someone who reminds me of Norman Bates.
Today I let at least six calls go to voicemail. My message is less abrasive than it used to be, which was something like “Feel free to leave a message but it would be a mistake on your part to assume I will listen to it.” I don’t like feeling owned by voicemail. I don’t like the idea that someone can leave me a message and then believe I am committed to respond. Hey, they left the message. I had nothing to do with it. I don’t intend to get involved. But people have come to believe that it’s my OBLIGATION to reply. Bullshit!
Of those calls today, several were from the second place I went for a job interview. That would be the place where I told them I was going to go get my phone out of the car to get some numbers requested on the application. I went out to my car and drove away, application still in hand. This place was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next times ten. There was an old toothless man walking around in a dirty t-shirt outside, big belly hanging and a big smile. We shared a nice hello. I actually enjoy people like him far more than some dude in a Brooks Brothers suit.
The woman sitting and smoking near the door (that would be the door with a broken buzzer and a sign that said “Please buzz for entry”) was wearing a skirt to her ankles. She immediately said to me, “WOW your skirt is SHORT!” Since my first interview today was at 9 a.m. I let Rachel dress me while I kept my eyes closed. My breasts were also out and about. I wasn’t happy about that when the day patients at this filthy joint began assessing me from head to toe.
God only knows how badly I did not want to sit in the reception chair that most assuredly has been considered and rejected by bed bugs as too dirty for their comfort. I tried to fill out the paperwork standing but the nosy receptionist insisted I sit. Roving groups of mental patients trotted through the room, all giving me the eye. No doubt, I could have had fun with these people. There would have been no need to dress up for work. I probably would have gotten in trouble for hyping them up and instigating bad behavior, just for my own personal entertainment. Really, it was the filth that did me in.
I need things to be pretty. It’s not just a want, it’s a need. I would have needed to bathe these folks and dress them in pastels, then get their teeth fixed.
So, anyway, after I walked out of this building with broken windows, surrounded by mud, I peeled out in my hot Dodge Charger. Then the phone started ringing. Now, seriously, why would they want an employee who was so fearful of the clientele that she disappeared before the interview? Why would they want an employee who did not answer her phone?! No doubt because of desperation.
I don’t scare easily. I have spent time in men’s prisons. I have worked in group homes where people have thrown things at my head. I’ve been attacked in the middle of the night by a drunken bastard. I had murderers on my probation caseload, child molesters, and I never had a problem carrying on a conversation with these folks. But this place freaked me out. It was chaotic and noisy and nothing like my comfy home with my recliner.
The stupidest part about the whole thing was I think I got the job at the first interview. Now I have to actually follow through and show up, which is pretty much on par with answering the phone.
Text me, call me a dirty whore and make me laugh. Your reply will likely be instantaneous. As always, I hide behind written words.