My phone is going to take the better part of a month to return (if it does). Till then, I’m using a substitute phone that lives up to its designation by degrading call quality within ten seconds and shutting down every couple of hours . I was unusually serene for the first five days, right through Diwali. Then I spent two days in the abject misery of frustration mixed with anxiety and stress. And now I’ve floated into a sad sort of peaceability.
Why sad? Because I just realised the reason for my first two moods in the week following my phone’s crash. ‘A break’ sounds good in theory to people but everyone else seems to be having real trouble with it. I didn’t, because I didn’t expect anybody to call. It was the Diwali weekend and I knew everyone I knew would be busy with their own lives.
Then came Monday and I was oddly relieved at not having to deal with the world’s calls (possibly why I procrastinated the service center visit). Tuesday is when the reality of other people’s demands and their irritation at my inavailability hit; it’s what pushed me out of serenity into stress. It only took a day for me to realise there was no one or nobody who cared about my problem being my problem. Everyone around me only cares if my problem becomes their problem.
It led me to realise that I’m not missing being unavailable on calls because people only ever call me when they want something. I’m not being a whiny complainer, I’m the same. With so much happening around us and the glut of low-involvement messaging options, a phone call is relegated to the status that a telegram once took. It’s the red light, the emergency bell, the pull-chain-to-stop-train signal. No wonder I experience a slight feeling of “Oh God, what new demand is the world making on me now?” when my phone rings.
A friend reported her irritation at the onslaught of forwarded Diwali greeting Whatsapp messages. This year she said, she responded to each one asking how the person was and what was happening in their lives. Not one person replied, she said.
After several unpleasant conversations, I’ve managed to shut down a friend who would keep badgering me on Whatsapp with “What’s up?”, “Why aren’t you replying?”, “I’m bored.”, “What are you doing?” I have been emailing him (and a few others) a long, personal email every month. I haven’t received any response from him on this.
We are so superficial in our communications and thus in our relationships. I think many of us aren’t really capable of meaningful interaction or even aware that this is necessary. But when life’s vagaries hit us, we hit our panic buttons except we do it with Last Dialed numbers. I have just been taken off the Panic Button lists for a month and I don’t even feel guilty saying it’s a relief.
After all, I realised, there’s nobody really responding to my Panic Buttons when I hit them. No, that’s not true, there are enough of people who do that. But let’s be clear. These are transactions of ‘I need them as much as they need me’. That’s neither relationship nor is it reliability. As it turned out (like it always does), relying on myself was the best thing to do. I sort things out best on my own and you know, I don’t really do too badly. The world causes so much chaos, ego, needless panic and violence that left to my own devices (heh, pun intended), I’m rather undramatic and matter-of-fact.
So, my dial-in services are temporarily unavailable and my customer service has been moved to email and messaging. And true to the tradition of great customer support, I’ll respond only when I feel like. Thank you and have a good day.
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