Weekend Assignment #222 – Phone-y

The Weekend Assignment is posted each Friday at Outpost Mâvarin; a roundup of responses goes up the following Thursday, so if you’d like to join in, you’ve still got some time. Karen says: Don’t worry if you don’t get your entry in by the end of the weekend. It’s called the Weekend Assignment because John Scalzi originally designed it to give folks something to write on weekends, but times have changed since then. Now the meme is launched on Thursday nights / Friday mornings, just a little later than Scalzi used to post it, and you have a whole week to respond. Still, I for one am grateful if you don’t all wait until the last minute!

Weekend Assignment #221: What do you use a phone for? Do you strictly use it to make calls and pick up messages, or do you take advantage of other technology bundled with phones these days? Which features do you use all the time, which others would you use if they were available and cheap, and which would you not bother with even it they were free?

Extra Credit: Do you still use your land line to make and receive calls from friends or family?


Anyone who gets to know me fairly well eventually learns that I don’t like using the phone much. Receiving calls is fine, but I don’t like making them without a clear and specific reason. I almost never call just to talk; I need a prompt, or to give or get information. I don’t mind returning a call so much, but I really don’t like to be the one to initiate the conversation most of the time. I would totally suck at any job involving cold-calling. On the other hand, I love e-mail. I feel much more confident about how I express myself via the written word, as opposed to the spoken; there are no awkward pauses or interruptions; and if we’re strangers or it’s been awhile since we last talked, I find it a much less abrupt way to approach or renew contact.

But sometimes conversation is necessary, and if it can’t be face-to-face, there’s always the phone.

I’ve had a cell phone for ten years (well, not literally the same phone, of course), and for over half that time I had a dirt-cheap plan for just a couple of hours a month, with an insane per-minute rate if I went over the allotment. The cell phone wasn’t intended to be used for lengthy conversations; it was for emergencies, checking in when you were going to be late, a quick call to find out if you needed something from the store. And if I was at home, it was usually turned off – why would you need to call me on my cell phone when I was at home? In fact, since the phone was mainly for emergencies, you might not even have my number to be able to call me anyway (I think maybe five people did).

My relationship with the cell phone started changing when I met my husband. Tall Paul is one of those people who keeps his cell phone on, and at hand, all the time; if he needs to give a contact number, that’s the one he provides. When we moved in together, he added me to his cell-phone plan, and suddenly I had over a thousand minutes available every month, plus unlimited calls to other customers of the same provider and a limited amount of text messaging. This did alter some of my approach to phone usage. Now, I have my cell phone with me nearly all the time too, and the number I almost never give out is my office phone; if it’s during work hours but not work-related, let’s talk about it on my personal phone. I’ll occasionally text-message, but without an alpha keyboard I’m too slow to make it worthwhile; and my little digital camera is pocket-sized and much better quality than the phone’s camera, so I don’t care much about that feature. (One feature that I use all the time, but almost forgot to mention until Mike’s assignment post reminded me: the phone book. Everyone’s phone number – cell, work, home – goes into the cell phone, and is saved to both the phone and its SIM card. I don’t have anyone’s actual phone number in my own memory anymore.)

But for my next phone, I’m open to something that does a little more (although I still don’t think I’ll care about a camera). A little memory card so I can store pictures and music files would be nice. I’d be quite happy if it had Internet access – e-mail on my phone! the best of both worlds! Since I’ve already said I’m not so much for talking on the phone, having one with other functions would probably make it more appealing – unless the cost of using those features overrode that appeal, and I really haven’t thought about what that cost barrier would be. Before I get in the market for a new phone, I suppose I should give that some consideration, huh?

(My husband’s thought about it. If money were no object – plain and simple, he’d want an iPhone.)

Our land line isn’t used for much, and most of the calls that come in on it are solicitations or wrong numbers. We were out of town for ten days, and came home to no messages, which should tell us something – besides the fact we’re not very popular, which isn’t exactly news to us anyway. Then again, if anyone really needed to reach us, they knew they should call our cell phones anyway.

So, talk to me about your relationship with your phone!

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  1. You know, the new iPhone is going to be cheaper; at least the initial cost. Just letting you know…if you want to pass the info along. 🙂

    I’m not a bigger talker either, but my dad, and father-in-law, are much worse. They want to get off of the phone two minutes into the conversation; and they called us! 🙂

    I forgot to say i use the alarm a lot. Mostly after a midnight shift as a back-up.

  2. Mike – It’s not just the price of the phone (and trust me, Tall Paul is keeping tabs on that one); it’s changing providers and getting a new contract. He and I are on the same plan, but have different contract dates, so it’s kind of annoying.

    Can your dad talk to mine? I can’t get my dad OFF the phone :-).

  3. Yeah, the contract messes it up. Oh well, I’m sure you can work something out soon. 🙂

    Out of curiousity, did you get some weird hot-iPhone site link to you? I found out through Technorati. Just wondering.

  4. Literary Feline – But if you didn’t actually have to spend much time on the phones, it might not be so bad. Then again, I guess it’s hard to avoid that in a call center…but if it’s mostly incoming calls, I wouldn’t find that quite so difficult as if I had to make the calls, though.

    Mike – No, I haven’t gotten that link (yet), but I’ll keep my eye out for it so I can delete it :-).

  5. I use mine the least in our family. Husband uses his cell for work, daughter is in college (need I say more?), and I use mine for emergencies and for contacting the two of them because cell to cell in the family plan is free.

  6. Daisy – That free cell-to-cell calling within the family plan probably made a bigger difference in my cell phone habits than anything else, since I probably have most of my cell phone conversations with my husband :-).

    My son’s been out of college for a year, and he LIVES on his cell phone – doesn’t even have a land line.

  7. That first paragraph really resonates with me. Come to think of it, I don’t actually call anyone except John and the occasional doctor’s office. In 1975 my mom paid me to call a bunch of golf courses and country clubs, and I still haven’t shaken the trauma of it. (I’m only half-kidding.)

  8. Karen – I identify with that trauma, believe me. I call my husband, my sister, my dad and occasionally my son (although he’s more e-mail/IM/text), and I’ll make the unavoidable work-related phone call, but otherwise I would rather communicate some other way.