In the business of living, if I could manage to get by without a phone, I’d gladly give it the boot. I’d shed tears if I had to give up my computer, laptop, and tablet, but not my phone. In my humble opinion, the phone is a necessary evil. If my car decided to call it quits in the middle of a road trip with the temps below freezing, I admit my cellphone would be like a lifejacket in the middle of the lake. But it gives me more anxiety than any other gadget I possess.
When my cell phone goes off or I find I have a voice mail message, I fear that whoever is calling me is a bearer of bad news. I admit most phone calls are not bad news, but tell my panic button that. I just assume the worst when the phone rings or I have a message that someone on this planet wants to talk to me. I have a similar reaction to when the mailman comes. I fear an envelope containing an unexpected bill or an invitation to a social gathering. HA!
I didn’t have a phone of my own until I moved out of my parents’ house and I only got one because they insisted. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was stranded on the roadway and the experience was so dramatic that it gave me shingles.
A phone call is an instant conversation. I have no time to prepare for the call unless I know it is coming. I have little time in the course of a conversation to process what I’m hearing and give my best answer.
If I have to do the “social interact” thing, I prefer to at least do it with someone I can see. That way I stand a better chance of knowing when it is time to change the subject or say “Well, I better go…”. Seconds of silence on the other end may mean my words are unsettling, confusing, or boring the life out of the receiver.
My ideal way of communicating with my fellow man is e-mail. It used to be snail mail via the U.S. Postal Service before AOL, Yahoo, etc. came along. The invention of e-mail was the best thing since sliced bread. I can write or respond to a message with more time to process what I’m going to say. Even if it is an unexpected or unwanted e-mail, I have the option of deletion or if I must respond, l have time to put my words together and edit them until ready to hit the send button.
The other day I received an e-mail that if I were living OFF the spectrum, I would have been thrilled about. But it came with a catch of a phone interview with an absolute total stranger halfway across the country. I was telling a special education aide the story and she said, “It scared you to death, didn’t it?” I was comforted that someone understood that it did throw me off balance and was almost to the point of making me physically ill.
I wrote the stranger back and basically said, “I’m autistic. No phone interview. Just write me.” I haven’t heard back but it’s okay. I’m at peace with it. I did respond to the e-mail instead of ignoring it. And I gave an honest answer.