Ask any man, and he’ll say that women like to talk. A gross generalization? Perhaps. Generally true? Yes. We thrive on communicating. We love words. Lots of them. Now, we know there are a few of you men out there who are Chatty Charlies and enjoy a good gab fest. We also know, however, that most men fear groups of women because of the seemingly non-stop streams of verbosity that elevate when two or more of us are together. We feel our best when we are connected to others, sharing thoughts, ideas, venting, and yes, even discussing feelings. This is nothing new, of course. We’ve always been wired this way.
What has changed, much to our joy, is the increase in ways we can communicate now. In the “old days”, we had basically three choices: in person, via house phone/pay phone, and hand-written letters. We made it work. We connected. But now, we have a plethora of additional methods: cell phones, voice mail, texting, email, social media – all literally at our finger tips, no matter where we are.
I love that I can pop a text to my BFF early in the morning to commiserate about the weather or wardrobe issues. Or share insights from the grocery store. I can call home hands-free while driving in my car to ask if my husband stopped to get milk. I can be in touch with family all over the country via email or FaceBook whenever it works with my schedule, unrestrained by time zones. How awesome.
Certainly our virtual non-stop availability to communicate with each other has it’s pro’s and con’s. But with our busy R.W. lives, we just gotta love the convenience. My sister and I had been swapping voice mails and emails without actually connecting for several days. Finally this weekend, we had a lovely long conversation while I was sitting in my car in CVS’s parking lot, windows down, sunshine streaming in, me sipping my chai tea. She was halfway across the country, part way through a weekend road trip with her husband. I will admit that our initial attempts to connect included a few minutes of awkward back-and-forths of texts and missed calls – but we were able to persevere and had a good talk during our one window of opportunity on a busy weekend.
We can, of course, get a bit carried away by what we consider to be useful modes of communication. A few days ago my brother and I were trying to reach each other to confirm some plans to get together when he and his wife were in our area. That particular evening, I sat at my kitchen table and called him on his cell phone, from mine. He was visiting his in-laws. The cell connection between us was spotty at best. After having the call drop, he called me back. He had walked into his in-law’s garage, his arm outstretched to the outdoors, with me on speaker phone so he could watch the indicator bars on his cell reception and turn or move if appropriate to keep us connected. It was raining out, hence the decision to just allow his arm and phone to get wet. We were able to complete the call. When I hung up, I glanced over to our house phone hanging on the wall. I was quite certain his in-laws have one just like it. I was also quite certain that had we used those phones, we would have heard each other just fine, and he wouldn’t have gotten wet. Yet, for whatever reason, it was “more natural” to stick to our mobile devices.
And that brings me to my current conundrum. My husband and I have been discussing ways to cut back on some of our bills, and one of the primary targets is our bundled package with the cable company. We have internet, home phone, and cable TV with them. With a surprising amount of patience, my husband attempted to contact our cable provider recently to have a chat about ways to cut back to bring our bill down each month. This is not the kind of call cable providers ever want to receive. I believe they go to training courses to purposefully learn how to talk in circles, and completely confuse their customers until the result is a more complex package for the same or greater cost.
He was eventually able to itemize our options – if we cut back to basic cable for our local stations and add on only HBO (assuming we can watch anything else we want via the internet), we’d be at one cost. If we keep the regular internet service, we’ll be at another cost. If we drop our house phone, we can save another $20 a month. To my husband, this was the no-brainer part of the conversation. Let’s drop the house phone.
Yet me, the woman who loves to text friends on her iPhone, or communicate via email and social media via my laptop, the SAME woman who sat at her kitchen table using her cell phone to call her sibling, suddenly felt uneasy about this decision. Drop the house phone? Really? I know a lot of other folks who have done this. It seems to make sense. And yet – something about it bothers me. That night while we ate dinner, we did a bit of brainstorming on who calls us on the house phone. My handicapped brother does, but he also knows my cell #. The neighbors do sometimes. A couple of other family members. Then my son offered up a few others: the school, the town, our doctors offices….. again, we could just give them our other numbers. Even my son has his own cell phone. But….. but…. But why not? I just don’t know. I think it is a security thing for me. There hangs my home phone. Ready. Connected. Stable. Like an old friend clinging to my retro past.
Perhaps it helps me harken back to those old days…. When I grew up with just 2 phones in the house, and we had to get permission to use them. When we were trained by our parents to have appropriate phone etiquette (I was to answer “Hello, Marjie Carr speaking.”) As I became a teenager, the phone was my lifeline to my friends. I remember sitting in the kitchen doorway, my back against the wall, playing with the cord while making plans to bicycle to meet a friend. So we could talk. More.
Then too, we only had 4 channels to watch on TV, which seemed like plenty. And other than the cost of the TV and the rabbit ears, those channels were free. It was all much more simple.
So I guess the question I have to answer is, if I’m willing to possibly give up the convenience of 300 cable channels I never watch, am I also willing to give up my old phone friend at home? Or is it worth $20 a month for me to not give up that one original method to communicate with others in my world?
Hmmm. I think I may need to talk about this a bit more….I better go call a friend. Now where did I leave my iPhone?