Friday, January 23, 2009

Technology be expletived

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:

*ring ring*

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."


Becky said...

What? Leaving a message is rude!?

For years, my mom avoided leaving messages on our machine. And then she'd be upset that I didn't call her back. I lost it one day and totally laid into her because I'm a bad daughter. But she leaves messages now.

wonder woman said...

Hmm...that's frustrating indeed. This is why I love texting. You skip right over pleasantries to the business.

Brooke said...

I hate answering my phone. I love caller id. It kills my father in law that I don't answer the phone. He will always stop a conversation to answer his phone, and expects me to do the same. Those people are THERE. They can leave a message! I'm HERE talking to you and you interrupt our conversation for something you think is more pressing? Leave a message, if I want to talk to you, I'll call you back. Otherwise, you said what you needed to say on the message, and we'll talk later.
Sorry for the rant. I'm with you sista.

JustRandi said...

HAHAHA! That last line cracked me up! Can I just tell you how much I love this post? My very favorite posts are the ones where we get to see the differences in the culture!
I don't always answer the phone either.
I mean, excuse me if MY phone is for MY convenience.

Erin said...

I feel exactly the same way you do. I hate answering the phone. I hate IMing too. I don't have time to shoot the breeze. I have too many other things to do!

Great post. I loved the last line too.

Lara said...

I hate phone calls. And I often don't answer, especially if it's my mom because that means I'll have to talk for over an hour. If I don't have the time right then, I can't do it. I get a little bugged at IMing, too, although it's easier to just say something and get up and do a few things and then come back. I think people expect that.

Lara said...

Oh, and I think it's hilarious that leaving a message is rude, but calling 100 times isn't.

LisAway said...

My husband often doesn't answer his cell (he has two, one for church and his personal one) and if he sees certain numbers he just shuts the thing off, as he knows they will call over and over, really probably about 10-15 times before they give up. And they trade off calling both of his phones.

And I don't love the small talk either. They do the same in Poland and people who have never met or even been told anything about my family in America ask how they're all doing. And I'm thinking, maybe I should just tell them, Oh, I don't have any family, they've all passed on. Thanks for asking.

That is such a strange custom especially in Poland where people are much less open in general. And here they ALWAYS as if you're healthy. And then if the kids are healthy. I finally stopped thinking it was so wacky when my husband explained that they use it where Americans use "How are you?"

Debbie said...

That is so funny. Leaving a message is rude?
I had never thought of all this before. I have some friends from other countries and they do that whole asking about every member of the family. And I never do either. Interesting cultural difference.

Kristina P. said...

I'm sorry, but people who call me and ask who answered the phone, I will usually hang up.

::Jan:: said...

A perfect rant. I know that scenerio too. Just cut to the chase and ask me already.

Deb said...

I refuse to answer phones. Or doors. Or questions.

Annette Lyon said...

That last bit has me confused. Leaving a message is rude . . . okay . . .

I'd lose my mind.

Katrina said...

Ok, the funniest part about this is the "I didn't want to be rude." I kinda hate the phone too. I'm a pro at ignoring it. I also hate listening to messages on my cell phone. It's so much work to put in the code and wait for automated person blah blah blah.

Jody Blue said...

I just found your blog!! We had a exchange student from Brasil, just had feijoa,rice, and vinagrete for supper last night and posted the recipe after supper tonight!! It will be fun to peek in on your life in Brasil, Thanks for sharing!!

3 Bay B Chicks said...

And this is why I love your blog. For posts like these. They make me truly appreciate that I am not alone. Let's do some housekeeping this morning and add us as your follower!

When people call and ask "if I am busy", I usually let me screaming kids in the background be my answer. :)


Mommadj5 said...

I think everyone hit the nail on the head when they said they ignore the phone when it rings. Miss Manners actually instructs that you are SUPPOSED to not answer when you are doing something else, or if you have a guest visiting. Think of having a conversation with someone and you turn away abruptly to talk to another for a length of time. How rude! You wouldn't do it! A ringing phone is so demanding - but turn a deaf ear. If it is me (how cool - I am on the favorite list!) you are right - I wait a minute or leave a message - so should they. Change your phone message to something like "I CANNOT call you back unless you leave me a message or something equally explanatory! I LOVE the last line also. You will have to put up with the small chit-chat - so cultural and no way around it. However - when anyone asks me "who is this" - I just answer - "it's me!" See what they do with that!!

The Farmer's Wife said...

hahahahaha! I am dying laughing! Seriously...especially the part when they ask who you are ...when they called your house....totally Mexico!!! Heaven forbid you begin a conversation without first greeting the morning or afternoon....BAD BAD BAD!! You are my soul sista~~~

Heather of the EO said...

I have so many of these same feelings and I don't even live in Brazil. I'd go crazy. I'd probably unplug the phone!

You're hilarious. I love how you write :)

Rachel H said...

This is really funny.

You would surely love the way my mother calls me then. No pleasantries, no semi- formal "Hello! How are ya?" nuthin. Just meat and potatoes talk.

me: "Hello"

mom (usually reading some devastating online news article):"Did you know that every major brand of Peanut Butter is contaminated with Salmonella right now and 657 people are in the hospital?"

me(usually busy or running out the door..):"Oh, yeah...that's horrible mom. Thank goodness it's not us."

(and we usually chat about random news for no apparant reason for too long.)

See? It could be strange the other way too!! =) haha.

charrette said...

Love your title! And can I just say, this custom would drive me CRAZY! I have never been one for small-talk...more of a cut-to-the-chase type of gal. I'm sure I would offend everyone there in a matter of days. I already don't answer the phone HERE! (LOL)