Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cell Phone Courtesy vs. Divorce

My mind has been wandering anywhere and everywhere the past few days, except sticking to what I should be thinking about.

Cell phone courtesy has been one of the places my mind has been visiting. In recent weeks, there have been innumerable times, when I have been on the cell phone, and someone will walk up to me and start talking. What I find more exacerbating, I will answer them back!

If I am speaking on a land-line phone, and someone enters the room wishing to speak with me, they will wait until I am off the phone. A common courtesy we have all been taught. But, when I am on a cell phone, that common courtesy seems to disappear. I have asked myself, why that is? What is different?

My feeble brain pondered...... My hair is thick and long, the cell phone is small, thus not easy to see at first. Although why I would stand holding my ear for any length of time, I do not know. The interrupter does not see the phone in my hand. OK, that makes some sense to me. But why do I allow the interruption? Why do I answer them?

When using a land-line phone, I am not used to being interrupted, I am used to a person politely waiting until I finish the call, or writing me a note, or mouthing the words "I really need to speak to you now!" At which point, I end the call, or soon thereafter. But on the cell, that doesn't happen, they speak and I answer, it is a quandary to me. I think it is a combination of things. I answer because when someone speaks to me, I respond. I may even momentarily forget I am on the cell. When that happens, I hopefully remember to excuse myself from the person on the other end of the phone...but there have been times when I haven't.....I feel rude when I do that, I feel as if I have committed a breach of common etiquette and politeness. But it has happened over and over. I then wondered, is it the technology itself, the portability of it? It has a different aspect to it, we can speak on the phone anywhere (except a deadzone), and it feels different than being tied to a land-line?

I haven't found the answer yet. I do know, I don't do it to someone else. If I need to speak with someone, and I see they are on their cell phone. I wait. Simple. Same as if they were on a land-line.

I started thinking about when I taught my children not to interrupt a phone conversation. Remembering how they would run up to me, excited, needing to express their thoughts, and I would hold up one finger, asking them to wait. Often times that would not work, they would just keep rattling away in their quick excited childish voices, I would then, excuse myself from the caller, explain to my children that I was in the middle of a conversation, and would listen to them when the conversation ended. Many times, they would stand there in front of me, jumping up and down, allowing me to see their need to tell me now! At which point if it was possible, I would tell the person on the other end of the phone, I would call them back later if they were agreeable. It had to occur several times, but my children soon learned to wait, they learned that I would end a conversation and give them my full attention as soon as possible.

So why the difference with cell phones? Again, it could be their very portability. It could be the instantaneousness (the fast food mentality) of our culture. It could be a lack of common courtesies being practiced now.

I do know, I am falling into the trap, and I don't like it. I like being courteous, I like receiving courtesy in return. I do know I will be much more aware of how I respond the next time it happens.......or at least I hope I am.

Silly ponderings that get me nowhere in what I have to do, but have proved successful in distracting me several times today.

I have to tell my husband the paperwork has been filed. The DIVORCE process has truly begun.

I have imagined every possible scenario, from the very worst (extreme emotion on either end of the spectrum), to one in which he shows no emotion, or, he exhibits relief the marriage is over. Will I get so lucky to see that, hear that? Him feeling relief?

How will I feel if he does exhibit a sense of relief? I think it would be painful, even though I am the one who left, even though I am the one that has said this life is not working, I have to admit, it would be very painful if he expresses no remorse that our marriage is over. Although, I have been the catalyst for this change, I am abjectly sorry that a 30 year relationship has ended.
I have wondered, he has made no attempt to speak to me, about my moving out, the possibility of divorcing or getting back together in the past almost 30 days. He hasn't for the past two years, why do I think he would now? I have asked myself, would I? If the situation were reversed? If I loved him, I would, no matter how much pain I felt at his rejection, if I truly thought our marriage could be saved, I would, I know that.

I have no idea what to expect at this point. Emotions are locked tightly away, they seep out through the cracks in my wall, but I quickly stuff them back in. I have used vodka two nights now to not think about what I have to face........I am not happy about that. (but, Ginger/Lime Martinis are really good!)

I must sound really really pessimistic when I speak with others. All keep trying to put a positive spin on it. Several friends have told me, "This is the hardest part, the not knowing, the unknown. It will get easier after this"

Yes, it is true, the unknown is usually the thing that frightens and/or exhilarates most people. I am no different, and my life is full of unknowns right now. I am frightened of causing him more pain, of seeing his pain. I am frightened of his possible reactions, I am frightened of experiencing his anger. Mostly, I am frightened of the not knowing, the uncertainty. Time to take a deep breath, and another, to let it flow through me, and past me. Time to, just DO IT! Now if only Miss Daughter were not there at his house. I can't tell him, until she is gone. This is not a discussion she needs to be in the middle of.

So I wait, and wait, and wait...................

Ok, back to the cell phone quandary, and other distractions.


Fiona said...

Sometimes it's the distractions which keep us focussed, in a strange way. They are always small ones, designed to keep the brain churning, while underneath the important thoughts remain.

I know you will do this with your soul intact, and that's the important thing. You're being honest, no longer choosing to live a lie. You are reaching out to a future with hope. A future that I am sure will include a lot more happiness than you have enjoyed up until now.

The cellphone thing? I'm not sure. In my case, when at work, the use of my cell would indicate a personal call as I give the number out to so few people. And if I'm within reach of a landline I'll always use that first. I've never enjoyed the 'feel' of those tiny little things that all too often overheat, plus I keep losing earpiece positioning *L*

Anonymous said...

I think this observation is fascinating...and very true.

I am sorry to say that I think the reason our manners change about cell phones is because they are an intrusion. When you are on a land line phone, you are most likely not out in the open, in other people's air. There is a sense that we are being put upon. Cell phone users are intrusive.

And yes, I am one of them!

Heidi said...

phone courtesy is indeed in flux right now due to the portability and public nature of cell phones. i provide a public service. people i work with consider it excessively rude that people not only have their cell phones on, they answer the phones even though they are in front of us while we try to provide that service.

i think it makes sense that cell phones are considered more interrupt-able than land lines. land lines are in your home, private. when you are on a cell phone call in public, you are making the public a part of your phone call, if that makes sense.

also, it's easy enough to say on a cell phone, 'i'm in the store, i'll call you right back.' it stands to reason someone who needs your attention face to face should have first dibs on your attention, since time on a cell phone is easily available as a commodity, much more so than a land line.

if you don't want to be interrupted, you need to make steps to make it private, whether it's stepping into a lobby, or as simple as putting yourself in the corner, back from the room. all too often i see people on cell phones subjecting strangers around them with their private call. i too am guilty. i've had a bus driver tell me my phone conversation was more distracting than some other thing affecting his job.

i figure it will take a few years for things to settle, and people to find the manners that work for the technology.

Snowqueen said...

Well I hate this phenomena too....mind you, I barely use my mobile phone. I think it is symptomatic of the decline of manners and common courtesies, and as a teacher, I get front row tickets to where society is moving....and the view 'aint always pretty!

deb said...

Even though you wanted the divorce, you will still grieve for the loss. The loss of old dreams, what if's, hopes, familiarity. You will lose many things. But that's okay. It's okay to want things to change, and to make things change but even though we are the architect of those changes, it can still cause us grief.

As for your husband. What's the worst he can do? Get mad at you? I don't know what happens between you two but him being angry with you can't be much worse than when you moved out. But I don't know.

I loathe conflict myself. Will avoid it at almost all costs, which isn't particularly helpful. This morning I had to speak with my husband about something and I told him what I thought he needed to do, which wasn't what he wanted to do. It was hard but he actually agreed with me!

Take care of yourself Sunny. Your husband's happiness is not up to you, it's up to him. He may not understand that or believe it, but it is true, nevertheless.

Phil said...

Hi Sunny,

I hope you're doing OK. Love the cell phone post. Maybe I should blog about that a bit. I hope you're hanging in there. I'd love to share a martini with you right about now.

X. Dell said...

Judging from your children's reactions (previous post), I would suspect that they saw your actions as reasonable.

I've never married, and subsequently have never divorced. The waters you are treading seem alien to me. I wish I knew what to say, except that I hope everything works out for the best.

Good luck with this. When you decide to tell us what's going on, we will listen.