Let’s talk about talking. Specifically, the act of talking on the phone. Today, as I write this, I am scheduled for a phone interview sometime within the next hour or so; it is unusual for a place to not give me a definite time, but this is the hand I’ve been dealt. When I think about talking on the phone, I think of walking around, aimlessly, waiting for the conversation to be over, speaking platitudes and sharing gratitudes. I think of the many phone conversations I’ve had since leaving my teaching job, and I think of all the lost voicemail messages, translated automatically into text and sent to my phone because I do not feel comfortable picking up the phone on its own. I think of the faces I’ve never seen, the voices I’ve heard, the connections between the two.
I remember, before getting my first teaching job, being in the shower. I was washing my hair when, upon hearing my phone ring from outside of the chamber, I immediately lurched for it and looked at the number. I recognized the line in an instant, but I was stuck taking a shower, and had no way of picking up the phone in time for what seemed to be a phone call about the fate of my employment. Instead, I let it go to voicemail, and I read my fate via the translated text message I received a minute later. My heart dashed, but then the news came: the man on the other line wanted to speak to me about my interview, and wanted to offer employment. I was stunned, shocked, and immediately ended my shower, rushed into the living room, and called the number back. A part of me was afraid that I had jeopardized my opportunity by not picking up, but I knew that was an unnecessary anxiety.