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Phone etiquette...

This is not a rant about people being on their cell phones in wrong places. By now, if you don't get that church, movie theaters, hospitals, and libraries aren't places for you to hold extended conversations or blow out your thumb texting, there's no point. Also, if you still don't get that when you are interacting with someone, stay off the phone! And that the checker at Wal-Mart, the person behind the counter at the Post Office, the person trapped in the drive-thru at McD---they are people! That's a whole different rant, which will come soon....

This is about what you say when you make a phone call. I do not care who you thought you called. You called me. At the very least, when I say 'hello' have the common decency to say 'hello.' Unless you are Australian, at which point "G'day mate!" would be acceptable. Also, "Dzien dobry!" works for me as well. Not "Who is this?" Not an immediate demand to talk to someone. Not a direct launch into the problems of your day. A simple "Hello." Perhaps a 'how are you?' even, to be nice. But that's optional. Then, you can ask to talk to someone, wonder where you actually called, and discover that, perhaps, you have reached a wrong connection.

At this point, it is NOT my fault you dialed the wrong number. And, in fact, as goofed-up as they are, it's not AT&T's fault. (and it really won't be once my cell contract is up, and I go somewhere else. Then you can blame Skype and Verizon. But it won't be their fault either) You pushed the wrong button on the phone. You either hit the wrong speed dial, miskeyed a number, or were thinking you were calling someone else, but called me instead. You know what? That's okay. We all make mistakes. Some of them are minor, some are classic blunders. But, dialing a wrong number is not akin to going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. It's more like realizing that you meant to mow the back yard first, and mowed the front instead. It's not the end of the world, it's not even a bad day. I'm not mad, unless you drunk-dialed me at 2 AM. However, now that I have caller ID, I frequently let those go to voice-mail (and yes, they do happen. I even took a 3AM drug counseling call once. I'm a pastor, you do what you need to. If you call me, leave a voice-mail, give me 2 minutes to get coherent and address biology, and I'll call you straight back.)

Anyway, don't yell at me that you called the wrong number. And don't ask if I'm sure Billy, Lucas, Spielberg or Angelina Jolie aren't there. I keep a fairly accurate count of who is in my house. 5 of us live here, 2 cats tolerate us. If I don't know you are a welcome guest, my phone dials 911 while Mr. Smith consults about what to do with you. So, if I say they're not here, guess what, I'm not lying! I do not lie to cover for folks. I'll tell you: Angelina is here, but she's in the back, refusing to come out, and won't take your call, Jennifer. Sorry. The point is this: you called, it's the wrong number. Say "sorry to bother you, must have the wrong number." I'll say something like "no problem, have a great night." You go on, I go on. No problem. I have a decently large number of minutes, even after ATT screwed up my contract on relocation, and took away my 2000 rollover minutes. And my skype is limited to 10,000 minutes a month. (That's all I get for my $60/year. 10,000 minutes a month, incoming from anywhere, outgoing to US & Canada. What did you pay the phone company last month?) So, you haven't really killed me with that last minute. Go on, enjoy life, try again. Just don't hit redial. Guess what champ? It was the wrong number 2 minutes ago, Angelina wasn't here. She still hasn't made it.

And also, when you call me, and don't want to talk to me or don't even know me, do NOT demand from me my personal information. You are not entitled to know my name (I don't have yours, do I?) nor am I required to repeat my phone number for you. Don't know what it is? Look at your screen, see what you dialed!

Finishing this up: I don't really know who you call for what you used to call this number for. Apparently, the game warden/pizza delivery/funeral parlor/chef/hairdresser/supermodel/ex-girlfriend that once had this number doesn't have it anymore. If they wanted to talk to you, they would have given you the number. Or done something insane, like had the phone company list them in the PHONE BOOK! Yes, the one made of paper. It's a great read: nice, short stories. Mostly about people, though a whole section is about business...if you haven't called in 2 or 3 years, look up the blasted number. And don't ask me for it. I don't have it. I've never met who this number before me, just like the poor guy who now has my old Memphis number doesn't know me. (Leave him alone too.)

Please?

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