Grace Hwang Lynch

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Grace Hwang Lynch

Grace Hwang Lynch
Location
Silicon Valley, California,
Birthday
December 31
Bio
I'm a former television news reporter. Currently a communications consultant, freelance writer, and mother of two. I write about raising a multicultural family at HapaMama, and I'm also the News & Politics Editor at BlogHer. My work has been published in several magazines and newspapers, as well as in the anthologies "Lavaderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word" and "Mamas and Papas:On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting" by City Works Press. Follow me on Twitter: @HapaMamaGrace

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SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 12:51AM

You Never Call Anymore!

Rate: 19 Flag

If you don't get calls from me anymore, don't take it personally. I don't really call anyone, anymore. My husband jokes that the only time our home phone rings, it's either a telemarketer or someone over sixty. (Hi Mom!)

Although I am a Luddite in many aspects of embracing technology  (just signed up for Netflix, the mail-in version) I like to think of myself as an early adopter when it comes to abandoning land lines and the pesky verbal conversation that they require.

It started in the early nineties, when I was a young singleton living far away from home for the first time. The phone would invariably ring every Saturday, around nine in the morning. I, along with my roommates, quickly learned that the caller could only be one person: my mother. Sometimes, she would call just to ask me about my job, whether I was eating enough, and if had enough money. Other times, she would vent her worries about my college-aged brother, who never answered his phone.

A career in television newsroom, which had the same ambient ringing noise as a PBS pledge drive,  further cemented my aversion for the telephone. I grew weary of dialing others — furtively trying to arrange interviews. Answering the phone was even worse, for most calls involved 1) complaints about the station, 2) demands for coverage, or 3) lonely viewers who considered on-screen personnel among their closest friends. Ten years in this environment left me shell-shocked, ducking for cover at the sound of a ringing phone.

Then along came my children, who instinctively sense when their mother is having a phone conversation, and come clamoring for my undivided attention as soon as I pick up a handset. I eventually figured out my brother's system and started screening my calls.  

 "We never talk on the phone anymore," a lifelong friend commented after our twentieth high school reunion. "What happened?"

"It's not you," I lamely apologized. "I just don't talk on the phone anymore, period."

Of course, I do have telephone conversations sometimes: confirming my appointments or asking my husband to pick up food on the way home from work.

Email has replaced phone as the first line of communication. I can quietly think about what I want to say, and if there are kids screaming in the background, or if I get interrupted and can't to return to the conversation until late at night, nobody knows the difference.

Texting, I've learned this year, is also handy. It's more immediate than email, yet it doesn't entail all those awkward "Um,what are you doing?" or "Okay, then I guess I should be going" moments of telephoning. And pretty much everyone keeps their cell phone on their person at all times, so there's no annoying voicemail.

Which brings my husband to ask why we even need a landline anymore. We already discontinued our long-distance service, since the minimum cell plan already offers more minutes than we can possibly use. Taking another page out of my younger brother's book, my husband has been angling to discontinue our home phone service.

Why not? For starters, cell phones batteries go uncharged and die at the most inconvenient times. And why is it that I can hear the ringtone just fine in a quiet restaurant, but the sound gets lost in the constant din of our house? Then there's the safety issue. In many areas, 911 calls made from a cell phone are routed to a regional dispatch center, and the region may be much wider than you'd think, leading to delays in dispatching the closest ambulance or fire truck.

 And then there's the kids. As I said before, most of our callers are either over 60 or telemarketers. The phone rang a few weeks ago:

"Hello?"

Silence. Or the two-second delay of a telemarketer on auto-dial.

"Hel-looo?"

Muffled sounds. Or the heavy breathing of an obscene caller.

Just as I am about let this pervert have a piece of mind, I hear another voice in the background.

"Go ahead, say who you are."

"Hello? This is Benjamin. Can your kids come over to play?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

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I am laughing so hard at the "breather" turning out to be one of the kids' buddies! Been there.
Grace, the ending is priceless! I rarely talk on my phones - land line or cell for the same reasons. We hang on to a land line for the kids and for safety reasons, too. And don't get me started on grown-ups & teenagers constantly talking on their phones when they're in public places - so rude!
Nice post! I feel the same way about the phone, but I've been making an effort to get back to it recently. A nice long chat with a good friend who lives far away is a wonderful thing.

In my job as a church organist, I need to be in touch with a few people who don't use email or cell phones. I resisted at first, joking about needing to get a carrier pigeon. But I'm getting over it, gradually.
Loved the last part of the breather kid. Don't have kids myself, but don't need to in order to appreciate the humor.
I'm the same way. Love the ending! That kid wouldn't have had a chance with me; I would have already hung up.
When it gets to the point where we'll be saying, "You don't call, you don't write, you don't text," we will have evolved to telepathy. Great post.
Thanks for stopping by! I think every parent has experienced that awkward phase when their kids are learning how to comport themselves on the phone.

MusicNerd, I also have some friends - my age- who resist email and never carry their cell phones.

Cartouche- I'm waiting for the day when human evolve to telepathy. Wouldn't that make everything easier?
According to a recent article I read, one quarter of the US population now only has a cell phone. I was a trendsetter, abandoning my landline a couple of years ago, with no ill effects. Yes, there is a little vulnerability in case of disaster, when cell phone networks overload, but then again, so do landlines.

You can, and should, register your primary location (home?) with your cell phone carrier as your default 911 location.
I hear you on this one. I've started being less and less of a phone person lately. rated
I am debating the whole landline thing, too! Love that the heavy breather is one of your childrens' friends! R
I, for one, am not ready for telepathy - unless there's a way to screen callers there, too!
I'm 100% with you on this one... and don't like it at all when an old friend calls. Email forever! I am noticing, though, that the youngsters out there—maybe like your panter—really haven't learned how to talk on a phone, or maybe anywhere. Between email and texting, they just don't get all that much practice. I guess, though, if no one else is talking either, it won't matter.

Rated.

Lois
LOL, it's a good thing you didn't unleash a piece of your mind on that kid.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I've gone without landlines before and it always makes me a little nervous. As you mentioned, what it something happens to your cell phone? Rated.
Yes, to everything here. And you told it so well.~r
Funny thing is, I am so afraid of people on the other end of the phone, I imagined the heavy breather to be a 67 year old man named Benjamin, being coaxed by another 60-something-year-old weirdo, to ask if your kids could come over to play. Seriously.
This is great....I love the kid having to learn the phone!
It's mainly telemarketers here too...
Karrine, that is hilarious. That option hadn't occured to me until I just re-read it. Maybe I'll go back and make that a little more specific...

Thanks for stopping by and for all your comments!
Wow, you sound like me. I used to talk on the phone all of the time, of course. It was HOW you kept in touch. The idea of a mobile phone was like a dream come true--but now, I'm talked out. I teach---so much talking there. Personal conversation face to face, blissful. Phone talking? Naw. I love texting for the same reasons you mentioned. It's perfect for me. We discontinued our land line a few years ago and have never missed it.