July 23, 2014

caller unknown

I experience irrational fear every time my phone rings.  I’m jumpy and my heart beat slams in my ears and I fumble around in my purse, palms sweating until I can grab my phone to immediately hit “ignore” or fling it away from my body.  Anyone in my circle knows this about me.  I have to breathe for a few minutes, regain composure, and then I’ll call back.  Usually. In a few hours or days or something. 

I do this to friends, family, my husband.  I’ll call him back 15 seconds after he called me.  “What were you doing?” He asks, knowing full well how this dog and pony show plays out.  “Brushing my teeth” I lie.

But sometimes the worst happens.  An unknown caller pops up on my screen.  The dread that overcomes me is palpable.  The bile that predicates vomit is quick to lodge itself smack dab in the middle of my throat.  My fingers numb at their tips and I feel an instant urge to drive my car into a river. 

I’m certain it’s the police, or the FBI, or worst of all the mean Librarian from the children’s department because she’s finally figured out I can’t find that book and I keep renewing it every three weeks.  I know deep down in my soul that answering this call will bring my family to its ultimate demise.

The terrorist caller leaves a voice mail.  They always do.

And for days on end, my life revolves around the single red circle at the bottom of my phone taunting me of the inevitable message that will certainly bring news that will alter my life forever.  I can’t sleep, I can hardly eat.  Things are tense at home until Matt catches on and breezily remarks, “You’ve got a voice mail don’t you?” 

“OH LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND!” I slump over onto the table and began to pull at my hair while rocking back and forth.  Matt offers to listen for me, but this is my cross to bear.

I had an incident a few days ago.  It was like all the rest, only this time my symptoms were a bit more severe.  I felt sort of hive-y all over and decided that one of my doctors from my past had re-run some blood work, discovered an incurable disease and was calling to tell me I only had days to live.  I survived the weekend but didn’t think I could live with myself much longer.  I sought solace in the middle of a grassy field to listen to the news. (okay, it was my yard.  Whatever.)  The caller was from California.  Somewhere menacing like San something where I’m sure there are prisons and medical clinics.  The beginning of the message was a robotic woman’s voice and I was immediately insulted that the news of my impending death or lifelong punishment was delivered by a computer of all things.

“…our home security systems allow you to feel safe and secure in your own home…you’ll never have to look over your shoulder again.” The message droned on.

I fell over on my sidewalk.  I was half laughing at the irony, sort of crying and completely incredulous.  Could these people not just torture me with a piece of mail that I’d throw away because I’m too afraid to open it?

I’m experiencing some posttraumatic stress disorder after this debacle and feel like a break from my phone is necessary.  If you need me, just send a carrier pigeon.  Or call my husband.


  1. Oh my God, I thought I was the only one! We need to give this a name. Telephonophobia? Psychosis triggered by a flashing message light? I'd say we should have a telethon, but the phone bank would put me over the edge.

    1. Hilarious! This ABSOLUTELY needs a name! (also, I just started getting stomach cramps at the sight of the word telethon!)