Thursday, January 7, 2010


I have had a few phone calls today from family members whose telephone habits can best be described as 'rambling'. Now I have been known to sit on the phone as well as anyone and gab, but when the conversation rambles all over the place and the person on the other end of the phone clearly just wants to hear their own voice and not really have a conversation per se, I get very, very annoyed. It's akin to a phone call that amounts to the age-old phone question, "what are you doing?", meaning...."I don't care, I just want to tell you about ME." I have little to no patience any more with these types of call(er)s.

I can appreciate that sometimes a friend or family member just wants to call because they are lonely. This seems to happen more often with my mother-in-law, who is elderly. I can tolerate her calls most of the time, though I have been known to refer to her as a "time-sucker". (She has a way of eating up my day in a way that no other person can. ) At any rate, if the caller is OLD, then I can cut a reasonable amount of slack to him/her by virtue of age, infirmaty, or dementia. They can't help themselves, right? What I am talking about here are those callers who clearly have their own agenda and whether or not you actually say a word is immaterial. This is highly agitating. I got such a call today. Augh.

The caller to which I refer is a talker. This person literally never shuts up unless asleep or passed out. I can handle inane chatter only so long. When the other person clearly starts in on a subject for which they have absolutely no knowledge but talk as if they are an expert - and I know this for sure, I devolve conversationally into a verbal combattant. Can't flippin' help myself! Today this person went on and on about a group I am working with and how what they do can't possibly be effective. She hasn't seen their work. She hasn't talked to anyone in their organization. She just assumes she knows. I was offended and really put off. She knows literally NOTHING about them, yet she makes a judgement. Why do people do that? How can you judge and shoot your mouth off about something you know nothing about?

I have to set time limits when I am on the phone with "Caller A". Even if I have no where to go or not much to do, I can no longer handle idle chatter in which I am clearly just a listener and not a participant/collaborator. I have to literally lie to the caller to give myself an "out". Does everyone do this? Maybe we all know someone like this. When the caller ID lights up with their name and/or number, it's time to hesitate before picking up that receiver. Do I have time enough to invest in this "conversation" today? How is my patience level - can I handle several comments that are right off the wall? I have to screen the calls - that 's the answer. Some days I can hang in there with a meaningless phone call, but other days (like today) I just get discombobulated and can't take it. Yikes.

So if you are calling me, I'm just stating in advance that I screen my calls. No offense to anyone. It's a matter of time and sanity. And if you are entering a conversation and going to speak on a subject - KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT before bringing something up. Or have the grace to be corrected, because sometimes I can't hold back. And if I have misspoken, please correct me. It's a new year, and I am going to guard my time more carefully.

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