As Janice got sicker over the summer, I gradually stopped talking on my phone. It was always a crappy little thing and then it started dropping more calls than it completed and I couldn’t deal with its transmission delay that doesn’t allow normal conversation and having to say everything at least twice and go stand by the window and hope for the best.

I guy I know had been calling me frequently when he was in his cups, three-to-six sheets to the wind. He might bitch about a perceived slight or brag about the latest freelance job he’d gotten. Boisterous and given to hyperbole, he’s a decent guy and means no harm. We hardly ever agreed on anything, and I don’t think he ever noticed.

I know it was the stress of taking care of Janice that decreased my tolerance for technology, that and what callers usually wanted to talk about I didn’t want to discuss. I knew it then, and I didn’t care, so I told my friends that I might call them back, but I was through answering every call, and that email, being quiet and patient, was my preferred means of communication.

The fellow in question used to leave voicemails that said he only wanted to chat, which I’d guessed anyway. I sent him an email saying that I wasn’t chatting for the foreseeable future, and, if he had something important to convey to me, email was his best bet. I thought that was that.

At the end of one especially long day, with many people coming and going, I had finally gotten Janice settled for sleep and finished my chores and was lying on the bed. As I tried to gather what energy and wits I had left in order to read aloud to her, a gift she loved, my phone rang. Usually on vibrate, my phone had been set to ring so I wouldn’t have to carry it around with me, and it went off maybe a foot from my ear.

I tried to tell my stupid phone to ignore the call, thus sending the call straight to voicemail and ending the racket on my nightstand. Instead, by accident I answered the call. I broke the connection a couple of seconds later, hoping he wouldn’t notice, and then turned my phone off for the night.

The next morning I got an indignant email from him declaring his outrage and assuring me that I needn’t “worry ’bout me callin’ no damn more.” Yes, he actually wrote ’bout and callin’, and yes, I was relieved, like being unsubscribed.

Posted Thursday, December 6th, 2012 under tolerance.

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