Phone bane

There is something true about the saying that when you start off on a bad foot, you would end in one too.  The week started off with a rant, and it seems to end with one too but this time I am not throwing an unreasonable tantrum.

I am a work-from-home woman.  I have been working from home for the past 18 years of my life.  Working from home comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.  The advantages are pretty obvious, the main disadvantage is that you need discipline in order to work from home, and while I do have bad days (like all of this week has been with respect to work discipline), I have developed a certain routine to follow.  All that’s fine and dandy.

A rather under-estimated disadvantage that people who have never worked from home are not aware of is the perception of other people about your nature of work.  While my immediate family and my birth family has always understood my WFH dynamics, it is never so with outsiders.  In the initial years of my WFH life, I struggled to make my extended family-by-marriage understand that week day mornings are MINE to work, and I don’t appreciate insurgence.  I don’t think they get it, and even now, some of my relatives don’t understand why I get cranky when I am  invited for a Mangali pondugal or I don’t know, to take vethalai paakku for some Tuesday or Friday, or get visited bang in the middle of a weekday morning.  It really bothers me because when people work at an office, their excuse of “I have to go to office” is accepted better than when I say it, because hell, I am home all the time…what could I possibly be doing?

I have somewhat come to terms with the fact that the oldies would not understand the concept of “WFH”.  And the oldies have come to understand the concept of although-we-have-no-idea-what-LG-does-she-is-a-cranky-bitch-during-the-week; I am really not, if you knew me in person (and not from the rants in my blog), you’d know I am a very pleasant (bordering meek) person.  In India, even a polite “no” is often taken as “HELL no”.

The reason for this rant is this:  I am busy trying to work this morning, and my phone rings continuously,  eight times.  The car mechanic who was supposed to pick up my car for servicing tomorrow,  calls me four times in a row, and a friend (?!)  calls me four times, all in a matter of two minutes.  WTH?  When someone does not pick the phone, isn’t it polite to just hold off and call back a little later?  While the car mechanic has nothing to do with me, and would probably not know how bitchy LG can be when disturbed from work, what bothers me is the friend.  This is not the first time she has called in the morning and not been answered.  I have even told her that mornings are when I work, and I prefer that she send me a message or email during the day.  Yet, she calls me every time – sometimes it is to ask me if I got the message she sent me.  Seriously.

The truth is that I don’t even like talking on the phone unless it is for information or emergency.  When people ask me for my phone number, if I choose to give it to them, I always accompany it with “I don’t like talking on the phone…can you email/message me instead?”  I get it that people find it easier to talk on the phone, but I think it is enormous insurgence into my private time. I never talk to people without first ascertaining with them if it is a good time to talk – either in person or on phone.  I think I deserve the same treatment.  A phone ringing when you are busy trying to frame a sentence that describes a difficult concept can set you back by hours.  The irony was that this friend, after calling three times, disrupting my train of thought, sends me a message that “she has work to do now and will call me later”.  That’s when I lost it.  Yes, I could switch off the phone, or put it on silence, but I don’t like doing that because my immediate family is full of oldies and I am always expecting emergencies.

The train of thought has left the station and now I have to sprint behind it and catch up if I need to complete this difficult document today.

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7 thoughts on “Phone bane

  1. Hangaku Gozen

    I used to work from home as well: the only advice I can give is that you have to set boundaries so people don’t try to take advantage of the fact you are at home, ergo they assume you have a flexible schedule. I used to pick up the phone to avoid repeat calling and ringing, which can really get annoying: but I would answer with a cheerful but brusque “HG here. How may I help you today?” It would make it clear to the caller that this was a workday for me, not a time to chat.

    But you get into another issue that women have to deal with almost exclusively: that your professional life and time are not to be take seriously, and anyone can bother you with the most petty stuff, whether it is the middle of the morning or in the middle of dinner. As I get older I have less patience for people who do this. I remain reflexively courteous, but I don’t hesitate to tell them I’m busy and will call them back at another time. (If I want to, anyway.) I suppose it’s the realization that life really is too short to waste on “Will you bring the treats for the meeting this weekend?” (You just need a yes or no; they shouldn’t drag it out with a conversation about so-and-so’s gluten allergy or “it’s getting harder to get people to attend these days.”) Also, would the CEO of a large company waste her time chatting with the auto mechanic or the host of the next luncheon? You are the CEO of your own business, you know…. 🙂

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    1. LG

      Recently, my husband witnessed me being curt to a very inefficient and unprofessional cashier at a coffee place. He said that he would not want to be at the receiving end of my displeasure. I merely smiled. Life is too short to put up with inefficiency, with strangers.

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  2. Ana Karin

    I used an iPhone and it has a very cool feature called ‘do not disturb’. I’m sure other phones have the same feature. You set it for the time when you don’t want calls (scheduled daily every weekday morning, for example), that will keep the mechanic and such confined to voice mail. For the oldies, you can designate favorite contacts or people who’s calls you don’t want to ignore so they can bypass the do not disturb line in the sand. You don’t have to silence your phone, you don’t have to hear it ringing 8 times in a row, but you will hear if an oldie needs you.

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  3. dderbydave

    I am jealous of your self discipline.
    I’m sure I’d find a million things to do to avoid the work.
    Maybe a polite sign on your door would help?
    “LG at work. Knock at your peril”

    Liked by 1 person

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