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.

22 thoughts on “Incoming phone calls

  1. Ursula

    Interesting piece, Grannymar.

    However, please do not trust directories on the internet. According to 192 there are three people with my name in the UK. Except they are all me, at different addresses. Until recently they listed a whole bunch of people I apparently shared a roof with. One entry slots me into the 18-21 age group (that’s my son) and so on and so forth. It’s a joke. I don’t really care yet it can be misleading, particularly when people ‘snoop’ on you only to then jump to the wrong conclusion.


  2. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – I do not ‘snoop’, as you call it. I had very different but good reasons to make both of those checks. One was for the safety of my long distant friend, and the other was for my own safety, before making a decision. I was very surprised at how easy it was to check. We are constantly reminded to be careful with the cold callers to our doors and we can be just as vulnerable with all modern methods of communication. If my post makes people think, then it was worthwhile.

  3. Mike

    I also don’t put my name and number in for free drawings of prizes any more. We did that two years ago at a big sporting goods store in Missouri. We’ve been getting calls on “free” vacation offers periodically ever since — searching the number they called from online, it turns out to be an outfit pushing time-shares. With my phone plan, I can block a number for free for three months, so I do. It’s a pity that one has to be so careful these days.

  4. kenju

    I do not answer “blocked” or unknown callers, since most of them are businesses or political calls. If it is important, people can leave a message and get a call back (maybe.)

  5. llew

    Interesting post. Our phone lets us block up to 30 callers and thus telemarketers haven’t a chance. BUT some of them are now using Blocked Caller which is also used here by the police and our doctor’s clinic.I can blocked those calls also.I wont because its too risky.

  6. gigi-hawaii

    Hubby and I don’t get many phone calls, and when we do, we always check the caller ID on the phone. If it is no one we know, we don’t pick up the phone.

  7. Rummuser

    My land line telephone rarely rings and I actually like it that way because, I have to get up and go to answer it if I am not sitting near one of the extensions. But, I do like to use it as I can hear the other land line number person better than if both or one of us was on a mobile phone as does the other person.

    We are not yet at the stage, perhaps we have already escaped it with the advent of the mobile phone, of keeping our numbers private!

  8. Celia

    The only blocked phone call I receive is from a sister’s cell phone to mine. Neither of us can figure out why that is, so I answer it. As for the rest I have an “old fashioned” answering machine so I can hear who is calling while they are still on the phone. I used to have messaging with my phone service but I kept forgetting to check it and would find messages days later, so back to the answering machine with its red flashing light. Your black phone looks like the ones we had early on. You’re right Grannymar, kindness is everything. I have a friend who is kind to cold callers because she says they are people with terrible jobs for not much money. She’s right but I still hang up on them. At 71 I am tired of talking to soliciting parties. I guess I am still parsing out my kindness.

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Mike – I never fill in any of those forms either, there is always a catch, sometimes the information is harvested and sold on.

    Judy – Since many of my calls come from family in the South of Ireland ( a different country, yet the same island) the message ‘number unavailable’ shows up. I cannot take the chance.

    lleu – Our medics & police do that too. I answer all calls, giving people the benefit of the doubt.

  10. Grannymar Post author

    Gigi – If they are sales calls then I begin to gently play games, after all it is they who called me. I remember meeting someone years ago who worked in telesales making cold calls. They were supposed to keep the call going and not give up until the prospective customer refused a sales pitch meet-up SEVEN times!

    Ramana – My landline can be quiet for days, and then the world and his mother decides to call me all on the same day!

    Celia – My phone package provides a message service, but some times there can be a long delay before the message goes through.

  11. shackman

    GM you’ve been so efficient that your number is most typically known to your friends and family apparently. Mine has been public way too long and I choose to ignore blocked, anonymous and toll-free callers. If I ever do get around to listening to their message if they leave one and the call is something I am interested in I call back. I just don’t see not answering those calls as being unkind. I also do not converse with door to door sales/religious or otherwise unknown folks on my front step. Well – I do occasionally engage in a bit of spirited “discussion” with some of the religious folks. Depends upon their denomination. Like my blog says, I am something of a curmudgeon – LOL.

  12. Frank B Smith

    I recall, sometime back in the 80’s when the operator handled all trunk/long-distance calls coming into Ireland. One time I called and no one answered.

  13. Dianne

    Phones, we can’t live without them and they drive me nuts. Half the time i drop the phone or cut the other person off when it rings. Duh!! Dianne

  14. Grannymar Post author

    shackman – The trouble these days is we all have more than one number to remember, e.g. for Elly, I have a landline, desk phone and a mobile number to remember.

    I never buy anything at the door, and on one occasion when I felt that one gentleman was refusing to accept my refusals, I made sure he knew that I had his name and that of his company and then told him if he did not leave my doorstep, I would inform my solicitor and we would sue him and his company for harassment. Bingo. He was gone faster than flash lightening.

  15. Grannymar Post author

    Frank – I remember the operators dealing with all calls up until the mid 60’s. Calls made to the US had to be monitored for the duration of the call. Up until that time the equipment in the Irish exchanges was very archaic with cords and a heavy dial, the head band with large earphones and a mouthpiece that curved round the face to the mouth. Each operator dealt with a maximum of ten calls at one time – she was good – if she succeeded in doing so.

    Dianne – You need a cord to hang round your neck or a hook to keep the phone on your belt. the modern phones are made for supple young fingers and not our ageing hands.

  16. The Old Fossil

    There are some calls that clearly are nothing we need to deal with and, if it is, then they can leave a message. These are calls soliciting funds from us usually! 😛

    We have very few caller IDs that are blocked and we know the calls usually that are someone we know. If we have any doubt, we answer.

  17. Grannymar Post author

    Delores – The steps I have taken seem to have saved me from the telemarketers.

    Fossie – Thankfully our politicians have not thought of the idea of fundchasing over the phone yet! They prefer to work on loopholes to fill their coffers. Living so far from family and friends, I take no chances when it comes to incoming calls. I have one elderly aunt with a very imaginative mind, who decides when she gets no answer to her calling me, that I am lying dead on the floor and then sets up alarm bells with Elly or my eldest brother. I might be on the loo or out enjoying myself, but she decides that I am dead! 😡

  18. Grannymar Post author

    Big John – I don’t know if we ‘igorant’ or ‘poosh’, but we always called it the radio and you can see & read all about it here.

  19. Alice

    Gosh, this post certainly opens up a vast can of worms! We’re one of those households who choose not to answer unlisted numbers as they’re invariably solicitors or one kind or another. Although we have a modern handset phone you can carry about with you while we talk, we leave it cradled in it’s charger and one of has to get up to answer it. That’s why we choose to answer only those calls with numbers (or area codes if it’s long distance as it could be our family) we recognize or names listed. It saves us considerable time with all the useless phone calls we get. We assume if it’s important they’ll leave a message, and so far that has served us well. When I do answer calls cold, I have learned to say no thank you (except on the rare occasions it’s a bonafide friendly call) and hang up politely. That always works, so far! Otherwise, our friends know an email works best to keep in touch.

  20. Grannymar Post author

    Alice – It sounds like cold calling salesmen/women are a real nuisance on your side of the pond. Having my number withheld saves from all that bother.


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