At 1 pm on Saturday I got a text from a friend: “Are you home?”
I was sure something bad had happened. This was not a friend who has ever casually popped over to my place. Another pal texts to ask if I’m around whenever she walks her dog by my house in case I can come to the window to chat. But the Saturday texter? Never. I pictured her crying on my street corner—what had caused the tears would be explained later—with no where to go and no one to turn to.
I would be that shoulder to cry on and listening ear! I was ready! In remembering this moment, I feel like I should have been wearing a cape, determinedly flinging it over my shoulder. Rachel to the rescue!
The reality was a bit different than the imaginary drama. Turned out my friend was at the bakery on my corner with her BFF, and wanted to introduce us. I threw on a pair of shoes and headed to my neighborhood cupcake haven.
The true motivation behind the text was a much better than anything I concocted in my head. I was psyched that my friend thought of me and that she wanted me to meet her VIP pal. But still, what kind of crazy person assumes that anyone who writes “are you home?”must be in need of urgent help?
It reminded me of an article from The New York Times a few weeks ago. In “Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You,” Pamela Paul writes about the death of the friendly phone call. “It’s at the point where when the phone does ring — and it’s not my mom, dad, husband or baby sitter — my first thought is: ‘What’s happened? What’s wrong?'”
I’d go one further. Whenever anyone inquires about my whereabouts in any way—be it via text or phone call or email—I assume there must be a problem. You know, one of those “Where are you? Are you sitting down? I need to tell you something…” messages.
My heart goes pitter-patter when I get a voicemail from a friend. But if a local pal calls in the middle of the day, and we don’t have plans later or something specific we need to discuss, I must admit I still register some surprise. In writing this blog—and having posted often about the decline of the telephone—I’ve become much better about phone chatting. Considering I often wax nostalgic about that lost art of conversation, I decided I better improve at it. In fact, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to hone my phone skills. As in: if it’s ringing, answer it. Don’t wait to listen to the message and mentally prep for voice-to-voice contact.
I’ve gotten much better.
Next up: Accept that someone might ask where I am because they want my company rather than because they need my help.
Have you been there? When you hear unexpectedly from a friend, is your first thought that something must be wrong?