An old friend got in touch with us recently, and his experience was proof that trying to contact one of the Fulwilers by telephone often yields different results than you would expect it to. Below is a transcript of our friend Sandeep’s experience with this endeavor.
Before you read it, there are three things you need to know: 1) As part of his never-ending quest to thwart The Man, Joe is constantly switching to new, cheaper cell phone plans, which always involves changing his mobile number. 2) He recently switched our home service as well (see #1 re: The Man), which involved losing our longtime home number. 3) Joe sees answering phones as a completely optional activity; if a phone rings near him, he feels no particular compulsion to turn his attention to it, and usually keeps his cell phone turned off.
SANDEEP: Hey, Jen, how’s it going? Could I just get Joe’s cell number from you?
ME: I don’t know it.
SANDEEP: You don’t know it?
ME: No, but it doesn’t matter. He wouldn’t answer it anyway.
ME: Yeah, he never answers it.
SANDEEP: Oh. Wow. Okay, do you know if he’s at work right now?
ME: Actually, he’s at home.
SANDEEP: Oh, great! What’s your home number?
ME: I don’t know.
ME: He doesn’t answer that number either though.
SANDEEP: Okay. Well, I’ll just leave him a voicemail.
ME: We don’t have voicemail. Or, maybe we do, but we’ve never figured out how to check it.
SANDEEP: [More stunned silence.] Okay, so, I guess I’ll just send him another email and wait to hear back?
ME: That would probably be best.
And I’ve told you before about this exchange, which I had again recently:
FRIEND: Did you get my text?
ME: I never check texts. You should email me.
FRIEND: I did.
ME: Oh, that’s right, I avoid email. It stresses me out.
FRIEND: Did you at least get my voicemail?
ME: I hate checking voicemail. It takes so long, you know? You have to sit there and listen to that voice say, “At…three…twenty…two…on…Friday…” [Shuddering.] I only do it about once a week.
FRIEND: So, I guess I need to come to your door if I need to get in touch with you?
ME: I guess.
FRIEND: Okay —
ME: But sometimes I hide behind the couch when I hear a knock.
Sandeep, who is evidently more of a phone-answering, cell-phone-number-knowing kind of person, finally caught Joe on the phone later in the week and asked in bewilderment if this was some kind of Catholic thing (wondering also if we were perhaps in a witness protection program).
I would like to think that it is a Catholic thing: we have cultivated a domestic monastery for our house, and a big part of creating a prayerful, focused environment is limiting sources of external distractions.
…Or maybe we’re just annoying introverts.