You're failing to communicate

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceMay 22, 2011 

Now that the royal wedding is over and I can finally stop using the word "fascinator" (British for "dead bird on the head") repeatedly just to sound cool, I can turn my full attention to something that has bothered me for ages: People who rush through the number when they want you to call them back.

It happens all the time. There's a long, slow, deliberate phone message by the pest control company/lawyer/fascinator designer and it is perfectly enunciated until the very end.

"It's very important that you call me back at gibberishgibberishgibberish...seven.)"

So I get out pen and paper and replay the voice mail, but there's no "slowmo" and it doesn't help all that much.

Was that "(gibberishgibberishgibberish...seven or, was it really "moofahlow"?)

Which is not a number. I don't think. Math was my worst subject. Also social studies, English and all of the sciences.

So I replay it one more time. This time, all senses are on full alert.

When the Princess and her friends enter laughing, I practically weep because I could've sworn I got that last number this time.

"Quiet! Can't you see I'm trying to figure out a phone number?"

They look at one another and roll their eyes. To them, I might as well have wooden teeth and woolen underwear.

"Check caller ID list," one suggests.

It's true; they really are the future. Also the present.

But Caller ID is no help because it's just a main switchboard somewhere with no name attached. I'm not sure of the name of the person because, like the phone number part, it has been hurried through and sounds like "Bluetharp P. McThreadrington" or some such.

I only know one Bluetharp, and I'm sure it's not him.

The cellphone has its own set of problems.

Yesterday, I got a text message from a number not in my address book that simply said: "Hey, Celia! I'll be in town soon. Can't wait to hook up!"

Something tells me it's not Oprah. Here's the thing: If I don't know you well enough to have you in my address book, then why would you think you could "hook up" with me?

Unless it really is Oprah in which case, yes, please do come on over.

And wear your fascinator.

One more communication-related yuk before I go: Reply all. Do I need 80 separate email messages from strangers to know who is bringing the potato salad to the eighth-grade picnic? You know what I'm talking about.

Someone puts out the call for signups and you end up with email from people you don't know explaining that Susie has the flu and can't come (not sure who Susie is and where did she get the flu in May?) and 79 others carrying on their own back-and-forth on the whole potato salad issue.

Reply all is of the devil. Just sayin'.

www.celiarivenbark.com

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