Sunday, October 01, 2006

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.

11 comments:

persianarchitect said...

dear Shirin, I usually close my mobile phone, cuz I feel in this busy and fast moving world there r a few moments which can be cherished and are private, and those people which u explained well, I just filter them out.

jarvenpa said...

Yes, there are times I think I should unplug my phone...because there are indeed people who want to call and simply talk and talk and talk, and like you I have little patience for this.
And, yes, the awkward silences.
Or worse, the long spiel from someone about something they are really concerned about (like political maneuvering) but which I am not.
I think quite evil thoughts then. I have gotten adept at "oh my goodness, sorry, a customer needs me" or "sorry, must go, one of the dogs seems to be chasing a cat". (the last is a terrible lie. My dogs would never do that.)

zulhai said...

Well...what do you do when you feel the need to be cheered up and want some company?
atmikha

Leyli said...

I use, or should I say abuse, the answering machine to prevent these situations.... It really works. People who are bored usually don't leave messages!

Shirin said...

Oh you said it dear Persianarchitect. I only ever turn my mobile on when I need to call or text someone and the rest of the time it’s off ;-) And I always tell people not to leave me voicemail because I don’t check them. Mobiles are annoying little things really. Very handy at times but annoying all the same.

That’s funny Jarvenpa ;-) But I’m sure your dogs won’t mind this little white lie being told in their name if it will save you from a terribly boring conversation!

Well Zulhai (or Atmikha? Both are supercool names anyway :-) when I need to be cheered up, I usually pick on my husband about something and then blog about it ;-) It’s great fun really. And when I want some company…hmm, I don’t know, I guess I just haven’t experienced that yet ;-)
No I’m only kidding. I always have time for my friends. It’s just that sometimes when I’m in the middle of something and someone calls and they want to chat because they’re bored but they don’t really have anything to say apart from, ‘what else is new?’ then I get a bit annoyed. But it’s my own fault for picking the phone up really.

Very clever Leyli ;-) I do that too but unfortunately everyone seems to know that I do that so they always get a bit pissed off when I don’t pick up, even when I’m out! I get the weirdest messages sometimes, ‘Ahh, well I called but you’re not picking up so…’, ‘Are you just sitting there and not picking the phone up again?’, ‘It’s me…pick up…hello…are you there?...HELLO!’

Anonymous said...

Oops! I've been experimenting with setting up my own blog, and thought I'd wait a bit before going public, just to see how it shaped up.
zulmikha

Amir Sharifi said...

I feel for you Shirin.
One thing in particular that was bothering me the most regarding cell phone usage was when, people would ask me why, I don't answer my cell phone sometimes?!! As if I am obliged to get all calls at all times, regardless of where and when ...

mezba said...

Hey, cool blog.

I have never been one to have long phone conversations anytime, except when getting technical service for cable tv, especially the 'so what else is new?' question. However now that has been replaced by ppl who chat. They see you on MSN and they are bored, so they just prompt 'there' and then off it goes from there.

Shirin said...

Oh I see Zulmikha. Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me ;-) Let me know when your blog opens up to the public.

You said it Amir. Mobiles are terrible like that. When I’d first got a mobile and didn’t feel like having it on all the time, people always used to say to me, ‘Well what’s the point of having a mobile if you don’t have it on?’ As if once you have a mobile phone you must be contactable twenty four seven. Luckily I don’t hear this sort of thing anymore. It took about eight years but I think people are finally getting used the idea of my mobile being turned of sometimes ;-)

Hi Mezba and thanks. Oh yes MSN is definitely the worst. I used to always try and quickly do the Appear Offline thing but if you don’t do that fast enough, you can get caught.

Nyx said...

even more annoying is having to sit beside someone at the bus, overhearing awkward phonecalls. It definitely isn't eavesdroping - believe me, I don't want to know what x did to y, and why.

Shirin said...

Oh yes Nyx. This is when the old trick of sticking two fingers in one’s ears and singing ‘La la la la la’ at the top of one’s lungs comes very handy ;-)