I hate the phone.
I hate that it inevitably rings when I'm in the middle of something - changing a diaper, surviving the dinner rush, watching a movie with My Man, or stealing a little alone time with a book. The phone is interruptive by its very nature.
And the Brazilian "small talk" stuff drives me crazy. I have translated it here for your convenience:
Me: (peeling off one child, shushing another, turning down the burner on the rice and taking a deep breath ) Hello?
Caller: Who is this? (I usually want to yell, "YOU called ME, punk, who are YOU?!" But I don't. This is Brazilian procedure.)
Me: This is Rebecca. May I ask who's calling?
Caller: HI, Rebecca! (They always sound surprised and thrilled to death that it's me. Like they don't know whose house they're calling. And the fact that I'm the only adult here during the day. AND the only woman.) How are you?
Me: Just great - how are you? (Not that I particularly care. I almost always have seen this person recently, and I know perfectly well that they're fine.)
Caller: I'm great. How's your family?
Me: Just fine. Yours?
Caller: Fine as well. And the boys?
Me: Fabulous. (Don't they fall under the 'family' category?)
Caller. Great to hear. And your family in the States? All okay? (I'm serious - they almost always ask.)
Me: Yup. (I never ask after extended family. I'm rude like that. And by this time I'm answering in monosyllables and my children are starting up a continuous "mommommommommommommommom." The rice is burning ...)
Caller: Great. Where's Your Man?
Me: At work/at church/ or home-and-there's-no-way-I'm-going-to-let-you-steal-him-away-from-me-so-forget-it.
Caller: Great! Send him a hug for me. Anyway, so why I called .....
You may not skip the opening greeter. The preliminary niceties must be observed - even when you've just seen this person that very morning.
But perhaps my favorite question is, "Are you busy right now?" Of course I'm busy right now. What a dumb question. No, actually I've been staring at the phone all day, putting off everything on my to-do list just waiting for you to call.
I do try very hard to answer the phone - really, I do. But sometimes it just isn't feasible. And if it's an emergency, they should leave a message, right? Besides, my two favorite people to talk to - My Man and my mom - ALWAYS leave a message. (Usually giving me a few minutes to answer it: "Becky? ...... Are you there? ..... Hell-ooooooooooo?")
But Brazilians NEVER do. They just call. And call. And call.....
One time someone called me 17 times in a row. By then I refused to answer it just to spite them - because I'm an extremely mature adult. But honestly - you'd think they'd assume that I'm either not home or I OBVIOUSLY DON'T WANT TO ANSWER THE PHONE.
And then, when I see someone at church - we get over the "how are you" schpeel and then they confront me accusingly: "I called you all day yesterday. Where were you?" Like I have to apologize for not being home. (And most of the time, I'm really NOT home.) I'm sorry that I have a life. I deeply apologize that I had to go grocery shopping.
Then I pleasantly inquire why they didn't leave a message? The answer, inevitably -
"I didn't want to be rude."