Thursday, June 15, 2006

Caller ID is the Devil

I abhor caller ID. We had it when we lived in Chicago, but when we moved to the 'burbs we made a conscious decision not to have it. I've noticed a distinct decline in telephone etiquette over the last five or so years, and I'm tempted to blame it on caller ID for several reasons.

First, a good portion of the people who call our home don't identify themselves when we answer the phone (obviously friends and close family don't because we recognize their voices). I think that's because most folks assume that everyone has caller ID and that I know who's calling before I even answer the phone. Callers to our home most often just say "Hi!" and wait for a response of recognition. Most of the time Jay and I just end up saying, "Hi. I assume that this is so-and-so." So far no one has really gotten the hint. My parents taught me that when I call someone I should ask for the person to whom I wish to speak, and when that person comes on the line I should identify myself. Somehow this no longer seems to be protocol.

Second, I'm amazed by the number of people who scroll through the phone numbers from which they have received calls and call those numbers back, whether or not the caller has left a message. When Jay and I returned from conference the other day, there was a message on the answering machine from a woman who wanted information about our church's yard sale this weekend. I called her back this morning and left a message on her cell phone, providing her with the number of the person she needed to call for information. Later in the morning, she called me back, "Hi! This is X. Someone from this number called me today so I was returning the phone call." I confirmed that she had called previously about the yard sale and reminded her that I had already left her a message on her cell phone. "Oh, right," she said. "I just saw a number I didn't recognize and wanted to make sure that I returned the call." This is not the first time this has happened. If I want you to call me back, I'll leave you a message and ask you to call me back! If I don't leave a message, then I don't want you to return my phone call! I don't understand what's so hard about that. Maybe it was a wrong number. Maybe I changed my mind (of course in this case I did leave a message, but that didn't stop her from calling me back). We were in a restaurant a few weeks ago and a woman sitting near us was scrolling through her missed calls and calling each person back: "Hi! This is X. Someone from this number called me."

I don't get it.


Jennifer said...

As a receptionist, I can verify the decline in phone etiquette. I could write a whole book on the subject. It's so nice that adults routinely praise my daughter for her phone manners. I just think it's important.

anna said...

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Sydney has a friend that always calls and says just "Hi" and that's it. I have to make her say her name and ask for who she wants.

It drives me insane!

When we were looking for houses we had the call backs....after we had already talked the person. I don't get it. Then the person gets all defensive when you remind them that we had just talked an hour ago or ,like you mb, I left you a message with my number, do some cross referencing please!

Don't even get me started.

My #1 pet peeve though is people driving while talking on the cell phone. Anytime we see a crazy driver I always check and yep sure enough they're talking on the cell phone while manuevering crazily through traffic. I have an invention to stop that craziness, I just have to find someone willing to fund and design it for me.

Rightthinker said...

I don't get it, either. Other than the trend that makes everyone feel that they are so incredibly important that they must be available at all points in time.

If they missed a call from you-it MUST be because they are, to second Anna's comment, they will call you back in the car, even if you don't want them to!

Can I add one, please? I don't like people ON THE PHONE IN THE GROCERY STORE. As a person who sees grocery shopping as part of my job description, and it needs to feed a family of six for a week, I really don't like the interruption..the talkers seem to just be oblivious to anyone else in the store. They stand there and talk and talk...again, they must be REALLY important!

jenny said...

I, too, get soooo irritated at people assuming everyone has caller ID. Last week I got a call from a friend who had done some work for us, but it took me a few minutes to figure out who it was (Some man asking if Tim was around... Do I want to tell him he's gone to Europe????). I finally asked if there was something I could take care of and when he told me what he needed THEN I figured out who it was...

Mary Beth said...

Speaking of people on the phone in the grocery store, the boys and I were at dinner the other night and there was a young-ish couple at the next table. The entire time we were there he was on the phone. It didn't seem to be business-related, although I could be wrong. But the poor woman was just sitting there with nothing to do while her date/boyfriend yacked on the phone with someone else. I felt really bad for her and wanted to yank the phone out of his hand and crack him over the head with it.

anna said...

rightthinker....the grocery store is right up there with the girl that yaks very loudly while I'm working out at the gym. This is my 30 minutes of peace and quiet. My time to mediate or just zone out...even with headphones on the volume up I can hear about how she ran a red light, got yelled at by her parents and is cheating on her boyfriend....not all things I wish to hear! Thank you very much.

Cellphones....should be behind a glass case that you case of emergency

Jennifer said...

My biggest cell phone pet peeve is the library. Hello! Libraries are supposed to be quiet! It makes me so mad I might blog about it when I get back from vacation, if I remember. :)

gavin richardson said...

i never thought about the phone etiquette decline, suppose you're right. i got rid of the house phone, and i tell people that my cell phone policy is that i don't answer a phone number i don't know, leave a message, i add you into my phonebook from there. if you never leave a message i never call you back.

i figure eventually people who want to talk to me enough will leave a message.

The Thief said...

I checked IP addresses, and you left a comment on my blog, so I wondered what you'd said.

Nah, it doesn't work any better in the blogosphere than it does on the phone.

My phone pet peeve is that people with cell phones seem to think that anyone who calls them is more important than whoever they are with. No matter the context, they will answer their phone (including a former senior pastor I worked for, who would answer his phone in staff meetings or when we were in prayer).

TLS said...

I agree completely! I routinely getted laughed at by my younger parishioners becaue I announce who is calling when they answer the phone.



"Hi, this is Tiffany."

"Uh, yeah. I already know. (snicker) Caller ID? You don't have to tell me who you are."

I, of course, have not yet learned the wisdom of screening calls and open up my cell for any beep without knowing who is on the other end. Sometimes I wish I was more techno aware!