I'm a Screener

But I wasn't always one.

Before I became a screening convert, I would get completely ticked off by friends and family members whom I just knew were screening my calls. I imagined them hunched over their phones laughing at me as I left messages on their machines, obviously delighting in the fact that in the game of phone tag, they always held the upper hand. I wanted to talk to them, but they obviously had better things to do than to talk to me. The ball was always in their court, so-to-speak, and so I waited for them to deign it necessary to call me back.

Several years ago, though, I started to see the benefits of screening. There are days here when my phone is literally ringing off-the-hook. Ya'll know I have a large and very involved extended family. Love them though I do, they tend to be all up in my business constantly. For example, if I happen to mention to my grandma that Isabella has a cold, she will then dial her 78-year-old fingers off contacting every single other member of my family with this vitally important news. Each of them then phone me inquiring as to the consistency of her nasal outpourings, her demeanor, and her appetite and offering various and sundry methods to ease the pain and agony my drippy-but-otherwise-fine child must somehow find the strength to endure.

It gets annoying. And repetitive. And time-consuming. And as I soon realized, completely avoidable.

The thing is, I hate talking on the phone. While my 16-year-old high school self enjoyed talking for hours on the phone with friends with whom I had just parted company not 15 minutes earlier, my old and curmudgeonly 32-year-old self wants nothing to do with gabbing the day away. I will email you and IM you until my fingers fall off. I'm on my laptop all day long anyway. But I do not want to spend 30 minutes with you on the phone.

I'm tired, see? And phone calls wear me out. I am also practically inert these days. Sitting comfortably on the couch or the chair in my living room often takes a good 10 minutes of pillow-arranging and position-shifting. When I find a position that doesn't cause cause me to writhe around in pain like a fish out of water, I.Will.Not.Move. Not even if I can't find the remote. Not even if I'm parched and dying of thirst. And certainly not to find the ringing phone, which could be just about anywhere.

I'm also very busy. While it would be nice to have the time (if I was so inclined, which I'm not) to talk to you for great chunks of my day, that's not my reality. Isabella often chooses the moment the phone rings to start acting like a loon and while you might not find it annoying for me to carry on two simultaneous conversations ("Isabella! Stop choking the cat!" "So, what were you saying about your mother-in-law's gallstones?"), I hate doing this. HATE.

And finally, as an at-home mother to a toddler, I talk All.Day.Long. From the second my little chatterbox arises in the morning until her all-too-short afternoon nap, we are having conversations. When she goes down for her nap or to bed for the night, I relish the silence. I am exhausted from non-stop talking. I need a break.

So, I screen my calls. Not all the time, but a fair amount. I'm not ashamed to admit it, and since our recent addition of caller-ID thanks to a great promo deal from our cable company, screening is even easier.

Do you screen? Or do you hate "being screened" as much as I used to?

14 Responses to “I'm a Screener”

  1. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    I'm the EXACT same way. You can ALWAYS catch me on email, but I screen my calls. There is a VERY limited window of opportunity when I can talk on the phone without one or all of my kids screaming in the background. Email is just easier for me.

    I remember when I did a phone interview for the lice article. I shut and locked myself in my bedroom, and my kids literally stood outside pounding on the door. I could hear them fighting with each other and crying. It was awful!

    I can't remember the last time I actually talked to my mom or sister on the phone, although that's more their fault. I've called, left messages, emailed . . . They're the ones probably screening ME! LOL!  

  2. # Blogger Sasha

    I also hate the phone and resent my friends who call me! Email people!!!  

  3. # Blogger Marie

    We screen during meals, for sure. And sometimes I do when I suspect it's my MIL. ;-) If I had tons of family here, I'd probably do more of it!  

  4. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I'm not a big phone talker either. I have friends that are though, so I do talk to them when they call, but honestly...I never call them...I'm terrible. I do talk to my brother when he calls since I never get to see him in person...and I talk to my mom all the time. I never feel like anyone screens me out though; maybe I'm just not aware of it, lol.

    I have always been a major phone screener. I had my own phone line in high school, and I remember ignoring my boyfriends' calls. You'd think I'd have just gotten rid of them if I didn't even want to talk to them.

    We got rid of caller ID about a year and a half ago, and I miss it. Now I just usually let the phone ring, and if it's important I figure they'll either leave a message or call my cell phone, which does have caller id.  

  5. # Blogger Shannon

    I'm with all of you. I'm big on email, not so big on the phone. I'm a writer, so it makes sense. Of course, as you are doing here, I made the big mistake of saying in my blog once that I don't like talking on the phone--that resulted in months of my family members leaving voicemails that would start out, "Okay, I know you hate talking on the phone and you're probably screening this call, but . . ." You know what? That will just make me want to call you back EVEN LESS.

    Also, for all those out there who are phone people and are leaving a voicemail for a known email user like mysef, do me a favor: please state your reason for calling! When you say, "Hey, it's me, call me back, I have something to ask you," it's going to just delay me getting back to you. Is it actually important or is it that you want to ask me a question about last night's tv show? Grrr!

    /tiny rant  

  6. # Blogger Mom24

    I'm not much of a screener, but I do find myself doing it more and more. The phone tires me out. I thought I was the only one. I love email.  

  7. # Blogger beagle

    I do rely on the caller ID. Mostly to screen out the telemarketers etc, but I will also pick up calls from certain people more likely than others. More so now. Time is more precious now I guess.

    I prefer e-mail. I can write those at 3am, so it's good for me, and I also fell less like I'm "bothering" the other person.  

  8. # Blogger Tracey

    I totally use the caller ID. Unfortunately, the ID doesn't work when I'm on the other line, and with 2 kids in school, I HAVE to answer the phone. Just in case, you know? So, I have, sadly, gotten several sales calls....  

  9. # Anonymous Kris

    I would never answer the phone if it weren't for caller id. There are some people that I rarely, if ever screen... but there are definitely times when I just don't feel like talking.

    On the other hand though, I hate being screened by other people. =)  

  10. # Anonymous Ness

    Why do older relatives do that?? It's like any kind of news (especially illness) is of world broadcasting quality! My dad is theeee worst at this. He can't wait to call and tell me who died. (He's 80). He called to tell me my uncle that I had not laid eyes on since I was 5 had passed away (two weeks before FLipper was born) now as it is I *had* heard from my cousin, that this particular uncle was very ill with cancer, in a lot of pain etc etc, so when I breathed a sigh of relief, and said, "oh that's good, at least he's not in pain anymore" my dad sort of had the wind taken out of his sails...

    Still not sure why folks do this!  

  11. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    same as you - HATE/ABHOR/DISLIKE/AVOID phone talking. I prefer to leave messages and hope that others do the same for me.

    You are not alone in your screening!!  

  12. # Blogger Shannon

    I love talking on the phone... doesn't bother me at all... but there are some people I don't wanna talk to... so I wait for caller id to pick up and then if I wanna talk to them then I will... but I also have to do it for all 4 billion stupid jerk off political phone calls we get and phone calls for people that used to have our number or address that have collection places looking for them... hello after 2.5 years they still don't live here back off lol...  

  13. # Blogger MIP

    I didn't even realize I was a screener until you made me think about it. I generally use my cell phone for calls, and the name and numbers always pop up for me to see before I answer. I don't think I ever answer without knowing who it is first.  

  14. # Blogger Damselfly

    I don't get a lot of calls. We don't have caller ID on our home phone, but my cell phone tells me who's calling. Unless I'm busy or feeling overwhelmed for whatever reason, I'll answer.

    But as you said, you're pregnant! And you have a toddler! And soon you will have three children. Screening your calls is just part of time management.  

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