Picking up the phone when you shouldn’t

That's What "Grinds My Gears" template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

That’s What “Grinds My Gears” template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

While it may seem like today’s post is channeling a thought I had only a few weeks ago, it will not be covering the exact same thing. I promise. However, I have noticed as of late, there is a current trend of people who pick up their phones — when they’re in a situation where they shouldn’t necessarily do so. Many things go on throughout a day that mean a person can’t always pick up the phone: getting a car’s oil changed; being away from a desk at work; having left a cell phone at home for the day, etc. So why suddenly do people pick up their phones when their immediate response in an aforementioned situation is “I can’t talk right now?” Read on and you’ll find out exactly why this trend grinds my gears annoys me to no end.

From what I have experienced with this phone-picking-up trend, it tends to be younger people who partake in it. If I call my parents during the workday, and either of them are busy, they typically do not pick up the phone. Rather, they will call me back when there is an opportunity to do so. Maybe it’s a generational thing, as most people over the age of 30 will not abide by this rule. (I choose 30 as my closest friends have yet to hit that mark, but some coworkers of mine are over that mark.)

Most millennials I know would rather not pick up the phone but shoot off a text to whomever is calling instead. Or, as of late, friends and coworkers of mine pick up the phone when they are busy, so they shouldn’t really be picking up the phone in the first place (hence the reason I’m writing this post). I have called people numerous times only to be greeted with a hushed tone of “Hey, I’m at work.” All right, then why on earth are you picking up the phone? Just let my call go to voice mail and call me back when you can. Isn’t that the point of voice mail in the first place?

Another happenstance occurred when I called a friend to wish that friend a happy birthday. The moment the phone was picked up, I began singing “happy birthday to you … ” and when I finished, I was greeted with silence. After a pause, I received a response of “I’m at work. I have to go.” Click. No hello, no thank you, nothing. So why does it seem like everyone feels it’s necessary, as of late, to pick up the phone when they can’t/shouldn’t?

Perhaps it’s because most people in my generation are afraid of voice mail. The New York Times wrote about a recent study done of how younger people are leaving less and less voice mails these days. The article goes on to say how some people feel it is almost like public speaking and get dry-mouthed when going to leave a voice message. Others say voice mail is only used in a professional setting, like trying to contact a boss or superior, and even then, they get nervous when leaving the recording. As we live in a culture with technology that gives us instant gratification, it may make sense to some to shoot off a text instead of leaving a voice message, but it does not to me — among many other people.

It appears that people would prefer to ignore — even delete — that glaring reminder of a voice mail and pick up the phone in lieu of letting a phone call go to a message. This irks me to no end. Yes, it only receives an annoyance level of 2, but that is because it is out of my control and not everyone follows this anomaly. I suppose it’s just the people I’ve been around recently that are apt to do this.

From what I’ve gathered in my own personal experiences and from the Times article, younger generations would prefer to awkwardly answer a phone rather than risk receiving — and heaven forbid, listening to — a voice mail. Or, others screen calls because they would pick up if they want to talk to the caller. Me, I will intentionally not pick up a call if I don’t recognize the phone number. Maybe I’ve gained the same mindset as my peers, but I don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone when I don’t know who (nor why that person) is calling. But, if you call me and don’t leave a voice mail, don’t expect a call back from me. I’ll even take a text saying “Hey, call me back when you can.” But if there is no voice mail, I don’t warrant it important enough for me to return your call.

Why answering a phone in a situation that typically warrants the caller to leave a voice mail has become more of a popular occurrence recently is beyond me. Millennials and other young generations choose texting over phone calls. As this is the technology we’ve grown up with and become accustomed to, it makes about an ounce of sense why some people choose to send a text rather than leave a voice message. But, when those people choose not to screen phone calls, and thus make an inconvenient situation for everyone, well, it grinds my gears.


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