• Kim Catron

Don't stretch the cord!

I was talking with my friend the other day on the phone. It started the way the majority of phone calls start.

1. I had called her.

2. She didn't pick up.

3. I left a message.

4.She then called me back.

5. I was in the other room, so by the time I heard my phone ringing and swiped to answer it (Does anyone find that their phones don't recognize their fingerprints as easily any more? I swear the hand sanitizer is smudging mine!) it had already gone to voice mail.

6. I called her back.

7. She picked up only having to first cancel the call to me (in order to answer the call from me) and then my phone beeped to inform me that she had left a voice mail.


When did this all go so wrong?

I blame 1984 and the invention of call waiting. Picture this:

  1. The phone rings in the kitchen. Other than your parents' phone in their room, this is the only phone in the house. It is situated on the wall. It is almond, yellow, or avocado. If you are lucky, it is a push button, but most likely it is rotary.

  2. You wait with bated breath for it to be answered, hoping beyond hope that your name will be called and not your brother's.

  3. Heaven's be praised- it is for you. You RUN, yes, you RUN from wherever you are in the house with excited expectation to talk with the friend on the end of the line (Who, mind you, has introduced themselves to whomever picked up the call and is most likely still conversing with them over daily niceties while you impatiently wait for the phone to be handed over.)

  4. This is it. The moment you've been waiting for and you give it your all, your full attention. There's no other choice because "Don't stretch the cord!"

5. You are stranded in the chair at the table, or if your lucky and the phone is next to the garage door, you can sneak out there and stand awhile for privacy.

6. You cannot clean the house, drive to the store, do the grocery shopping, fold your kids' laundry, make dinner. All you can do is talk to your friend. Full, undivided attention.

7. And then call waiting happened, and for some reason who ever was on the line was no longer as important as who might be on the other line. Cords didn't have to be stretched but the connection, literally and figuratively was gone.

8. Call waiting gave way to Caller ID. (When did we decide that we couldn't give our time to our friends? That what we were doing was ever more important than hearing their voices?)

9. Wall phones became cordless so life could move as we talked, so we did dishes and apologized for having to click over to the other caller and then apologized again when we said that we needed to talk to them and hung up on you.

10. I think from now on I'm going to practice the "Don't stretch the cord!" that my father would always say. The next time my phone rings, I'm going to answer it, and sit, and do nothing, but listen to the voice on the other end, really listen, and be thankful that I am here to hear the voice and take the call.

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