I miss the busy signal.
Remember the busy signal? The steady, annoying beeping sound that signified that the person you were calling on the phone was on the line with another person? Quick—without thinking—tell me the last time you actually heard the busy signal. It has probably been a long time, right? Well, if you miss it, you can call us here at Chez Barbieri. I’m convinced—as are my technology-starved children who share a dsl connection with their mother—that we’re the only family in America who doesn’t have call waiting.
As much as I miss the busy signal, I hate call waiting even more. Here’s my experience with call waiting: if I’m on the phone with a friend and someone else beeps in, invariably, the friend I’m talking to says they have another call and they’ll have to call me back later. However, if I beep in on a conversation that the same friend is having with someone else, their response is always to tell me that they’re on another call and they’ll have to call me back later.
Ellen DeGeneres once called call waiting “a mini People’s Choice Awards” and I have to agree. There is nothing to make you feel less worthy than someone a) jettisoning you from a conversation in progress or b) cutting you off to return to another conversation in progress—i.e. not taking your call—albeit at different times. Besides that, it’s rude.
I do think there are times that letting someone go from the original conversation is okay - someone else beeps in, say, your son or daughter is calling from a tank in Afghanistan. Or, your doctor is calling with results of your pregnancy test. Or, Fresh Direct is on its way to your house but doesn’t know your street number. Or, someone has forgotten their lunch and needs a nourishment, tout de suite. But if someone of equal or lesser value to you calls, it is the owner of call waiting’s responsibility to stay on the line with you because what you have to say is just as—if not more—important.
The worst offender is the person who calls YOU and then takes another call during your conversation. Oh, we’re done? I often think. There’s also the person who just sees the number on caller ID and makes an instantaneous judgment that the person calling them is more deserving of their time than you are. You can tell all of that based on a phone number?
I have changed phone carriers many times in order to get a better deal. They always offer me all sorts of free services just shy of the one where a Verizon technician will come by every day and walk my dog. (When they give me that one, I’m switching back!) Call waiting is always on the menu and I always say “no thanks” which mystifies the sales representative. If I’m on the phone with someone, we will decide mutually when the conversation is over. We will not be subjected to a beeping sound that indicates someone else wants our attention. We will behave like civilized, polite human beings.
Besides, I probably wouldn’t be able to figure out to use it.
But that’s a post for another time.
Weigh in, Stiletto faithful: what modern “conveniences” do you eschew? (I’m looking at you, Polito!)