One of the situations that make me feel very uneasy is when someone calls me and I get the feeling that they are after a very long conversation because they’re bored. Oh just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine. ‘Hi’ they say in a miserable sounding voice, ‘I’ve been stuck in traffic in Headington for twenty minutes; I’m bored out of my skull.’
This is when I start to panic. But then I think, no no no, let’s not be hasty now, it might not be what I think it is. So I say (in a oh-no-you-poor-thing way) ‘Oh no, that’s bad.’ And then ask, ‘Are you on a bus?’
‘Yeah’ they sigh. Oh no, I’m really panicking now. ‘Where are you heading?’
‘London’ they say cheerlessly. My worst fears are realized; this means they’re after a two hour conversation.
I’ve never been a big telephone fan. When I was younger I never went through that period of spending hours on end on the phone. My mum, who was extremely worried over my lack of interest in this teen must, even went and bought a little, red telephone especially for me and put it in my room. But it didn’t work; neither my mum’s plan nor the phone. It was one of those cheapo plastic ones with very sharp edges and built in Random Disconnecting System (which did exactly that). Bad for having a conversation on basically but great if you were after something sharp to slit your wrist with. The man in the shop may not have been lying after all when he had said that these were very popular with teenage girls!
Living so far away from my family and a lot of my friends for so many years however has taught me to appreciate a good phone conversation with a loved one. But I still can’t get my head around the idea of calling someone not because I miss them or have something to tell them or ask them, but just because I’m bored. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that or anything, I just don’t understand it especially when the bored person has absolutely nothing to say and it’s like they’ve called you to entertain them.
I was having one of these conversations this morning. Oh it was like pulling teeth. There were many ‘Hmm’s and long silences and ‘So what else is new’s. It was clear that neither of us was enjoying ourselves much but still every time I tried to direct the nonexistent conversation towards an end, the person on the other side brought up another subject. Twenty three minutes and forty five seconds this suffering went on for. It really was quite painful.