Daily Archives: February 19, 2013

Incoming phone calls

Do you answer calls from blocked/withheld numbers?

This question was the heading of an article from The daily Edge yesterday.

At the stage I read the article there were 36 comments. This is just a small sample of them:

“If its blocked they can leave a voicemail and ill ring them back if I want to lol”

“If they want to remain a private number, well I’ll remain private too by not answering them and it will all stay private”

“I don’t answer them, if someone wants to block their number that’s their tough s**t.”

“If they don’t want you to know who it is, sure why are they ringing you in the first place ?..”

What a cocky sounding bunch of specimens from the privileged ‘ME. ME. ME!’ generation in our world today. Is, what they are doing, SO important; that it cannot wait a couple of minutes? Will the world end if they do not update their facebook timeline or re-tweet that 144 character observation to another 273 people they smugly think follow them?

Maybe you might pause a moment or two, to see the world from my almost sixty six year- old eyes.

I was fortunate to grow up in a household with a Telephone. It was connected in the shortest distance possible from the front door of the house, this was the norm back then. I am talking about the dark days of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s in Ireland. The dark cold days before central heating or double glazing. Sweeping drafts were common in every other hallway across the land. Most of our neighbours did not have telephones, so they had to walk to the end of the street to a phone box, hoping the phone and light were not damaged, or knock on our door and ask permission to make a call.

We had a phone like this and the receiver weighed a tonne!

I grew up in Dublin, but relations were scattered across the land, some were across the channel in the UK. In order to make a trunk call (long distance) to our relations, it was necessary to dial 10 and ask the telephone operator to connect us. Heavy winter rain often flooded the lines, or workmen digging the roads, cut them by mistake. If the lines were ‘down’, a situation that might not be rectified for days, no calls were possible.

To call the United States, we had to book the call in advance! It was not uncommon to book these calls a couple of days before you wanted them to take place!

There was no way of knowing before lifting the receiver for an incoming call, who was calling, and when you returned from work or an outing you never knew if you had missed calls. Snail mail and telegrams were the other methods of communicating. Letters took a couple of days for delivery and telegrams were only used to bring news of births, marriages or deaths.

The radio, and newspapers that left your hands and anything they touched, black with ink, told us what was happening in the world. With radio, we made our own pictures inside our heads.

We still lived in the shadow of the famine times and the rationing from two world wars, people emigrated and often never returned to our shores. Without great efforts to keep the lines of communication open, some lost contact with family at home.

Today you live in the age of computers, mobile/cell phones, texting, instant messaging and video calling. In an instant you have the technology to see and speak to someone on the other side of the world, almost as if you were in their living room with them. BUT all these means of communication have made you VERY SELFISH!

You seem to expect everyone to be available at your whim, yet complain if they are interrupting you, with horror of horrors a withheld number!

Nowadays there are many reasons for keeping a number as ‘unlisted or withheld’.

A listed phone number can give a stranger your location. I know about eight people on the Indian sub Continent, choosing one of them as a guinea pig,  two clicks on a well known search engine gave me the address and phone number of this chosen friend in India. I did email with the information I found and they were amazed. So amazed, I was asked to explain the moves I made to get the information.

On another occasion I wanted to check the authenticity of someone in the UK. Using the same method, not alone did I discover their location, but also the names and ages of all the occupants in the household!

In my own case I am a widow, living alone with no family within a hundred miles.  I was actually advised to withhold my land line number. This means it is not printed in the telephone directory or shown on any display when making calls. The only time my number is made known, is if I call 999/911 for help. I know this because I have had reason to avail of their services.

In the past, I was harassed on the phone. The calls coincided with my husband driving the car around the corner. With time, I worked out who it was, and quietly changed our phone number and kept it unlisted.

I am on the electoral register, not the edition available to the general public in libraries, or council offices. My name appears in the edition used for electoral purposes only.

Both of these precautions mean that I am seldom troubled by cold calling sales pitches.

I do occasionally have misdialled calls, but I have discovered over the years that if I am abrupt, the caller seldom checks the number before re dialling my number. If I treat the call with humour and courtesy, I am not recalled. So it pays to be patient.

As part of my land line phone package, I can make free calls to numbers in the UK and throughout the island of Ireland and speak for one hour. If I end a call and redial, I can natter on for another hour. My cell phone package only applies to the UK. Another reason to use the phone with the unlisted number.

So, if you’re not in your winter season of life yet… Let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. The way you treat others now; may soon be the way others treat you.

Make the effort worthwhile and remember….

Kindness is the real wealth and not pieces of gold or silver.