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More on Phones.

by Dear Jon
July 30, 2002

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Sort 159_Dear Jon-More on Phones. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

My husband refuses to use the phone. He always insists on me to call friends, companies, take out, whatever. He also rarely answers the phone, insisting I find out who it is first. Is there something I can do to make him get over his phone phobia?

Tired of being his phone service

Dear My Wife,

Very funny.

Like many husbands, I am not AFRAID of telephones. It is just that most men are single-minded. When the phone rings I am usually doing something else. Inevitably, my wife is also doing something else. But if SHE answers the telephone, she will be able to continue doing what she had been doing. I will have to stop everything, concentrate on the phone call, and by the time I have hung up I will have forgotten what I am doing, and during the course of remembering what I had been doing, I will forget what the phone call was about or who it was or even that it happened.

As fare as calling other people, women are better at it anyway. If it's friends, women have photographic memories for personal calendars. If it is take-out or customer service from companies, women are able to put the phone on speaker for the hold music and do nine other tasks simultaneously (balancing the checkbook, ironing, putting dishes away, etc.) Suppose a man has on his "To Do" list: "Call Support for PC, Iron shirt, balance check-book, put dishes away." He calls support, and his day is lost as he waits, enthralled, through successive 45-minute intervals of getting a live person, explaining the problem, and being put on hold again. He KNOWS that as soon as he tries to convert to speaker, he will disconnect the call. Or, if he puts the music on speaker, the hiss of the iron will drown out the human voice, he won't know when they picked up, and they will disconnect the call.

Besides all of that, there is a whole dynamic about requesting help that depends on who is asking.

When a guy asks a guy for help, it is a challenge: Do you know more about this than I do? A man who is asked by a man for help is a threatened man. When a woman asks a woman for help, it is with the hope of making a new friend. A woman who is asked by a woman for help feels affirmed and safe. When a man asks a woman for help, like with wrapping Christmas presents, it is an admission of ignorance, defeat and incompetence. This is why most men only ask their wives when they need a woman’s help, or a complete stranger, like the sales clerk at Victoria’s Secret. A woman who is asked by a man is an expert.

The key, though, is what happens when a woman asks a man for help. When a woman asks a man, the universe is filled with glorious light. The music of the spheres ring with harmony. A man who is asked for help by a woman is a hero.

A man gains nothing by asking for help; he has either threatened to humiliate another man, which is never a good way to begin a relationship, or he is threatened by humiliation from an expert woman. A woman who asks for help is either making a female friend or affirming the hero fantasy of a guy. It is obvious that you will get more done with better feelings all round when women are on the phones instead of men.

Plumbers and mechanics are nicer to women, because they think they can sell more. To have my wife phone for the appointment is just a bait-and-switch routine. She calls. The plumber comes out, thinking he can be a hero while installing new gold-plaited pipes, and I meet him at the door. Ha ha ha. Suddenly he is threatened, having to assume that I know what I’m doing but can’t do the work myself because of an old football injury or something.

Confidential to P.D.K.

Sorry. I don’t like to rip off the intellectual properties of others.

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