Answering the Telephone

Somehow, I have managed to accumulate four phone numbers. There is the land-line at home; my personal mobile number; my work mobile number; and my Google Voice number that I use in freelancing work. I try to consolidate things. My personal mobile number forwards automatically to my work mobile number, since I don’t want to carry around two mobile phones. My Google Voice number forwards to my personal mobile. So in actuality, calling one of my numbers will virtually always reach me on my mobile number.

I dislike talking on the phone, and as time has passed, I find that I no longer answer phone numbers that I don’t recognize. With four phone numbers from which to attack, the number of unrecognized numbers goes up, despite having enrolled each of the four numbers in the DO NOT CALL registry.

The phone is there for my convenience, and there is no reason I have to take a call when the phone rings. This has virtually eliminated my interactions with telemarketers. I never recognize the number, so I never answer. If they choose to leave a voice mail message, I’ll listen to it, but it is rare that they do. And on those occasions that I find an automated message in my voice mail box, it confirms that it was a telemarketer, and I can block the number on my iPhone so that they can no longer reach me.

Many people I know seem to feel compelled to answer every call that comes in. I ignore most of the calls I get. Unless a name that I recognize flashes on my screen, I send the call to voicemail without a second thought. It is too easy to get trapped on the phone by an unrecognized number. Inevitably, I’ll see a number that I think looks familiar, and decide to answer it. Invariable it is some organization looking for money. “Consider a small donation of $50,” they ask. “Alright, send me the information, and I’ll consider it for next year’s donation budget. This year’s budget is already set.”

That does not deter the caller. “How about $25?” they ask. To which my response is, “We have a set budget for donations each year, which gets allocated before the first of the year. Since all of the money has been allocated, there isn’t an addition $25 to give, I’m afraid. I’m sure you understand the importance of a budget and danger one gets into when they overspend their budget.” This usually ends the call. But it is waste of time to go through in the first place, which is why I stopped answering the phone for numbers I no longer recognize.

I don’t lose any sleep over this. In an emergency, if someone couldn’t reach me on the phone, they would certainly leave a voice mail message. So far as I can tell, I have not missed anything important since I stopped answering numbers I don’t recognize.

Email is my preferred method of communication. It is brief and direct, and it leaves behind a record that I can easily refer to. It is more efficient than a phone call. This is why I try to answer an email I receive as promptly as I can.

I wish that Siri was capable of handling my calls. If a telemarketer called, and I foolishly answered the phone, I wish there was a button I could tap in the Phone app on my iPhone that would transfer the caller to Siri. I don’t mind letting telemarketers talk to Siri.


  1. +1 everything here. Twin all my numbers to my cell phone. If I don’t recognize the number or am not prepared to deal with the caller right now, I don’t answer, and they can leave a message. I much prefer e-mail where I can get my thoughts properly composed, and where I can send or reply when it is most convenient to me.


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