Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I was enamored with her.  Not because of her beauty, height or bright blue eyes.  Not because she could make me laugh.  Not because she was a strong and independent woman.

I was enamored by Emily because….

she never answered her phone.

All around me telephones ring.  Mine.  Yours.  Hers.  His. 
Someone’s phone chimes and we are all digging into our purses.  “Is it mine?  Is it yours?”  

While I was on the phone with my mother, I suddenly heard a phone ring in the background.  “Oh, hold on.  Dad’s line is ringing.”  She came back to the phone.  “Oh, wait.  Now my cell phone is ringing.”

“My word, Mother.  You’re like a phone operator.” 

“Oh my, hold on,” she said while letting out a small awkward chuckle, “Call waiting on my other line.”

I stood in the kitchen talking with a friend.  Suddenly her phone rang.  In mid sentence, my mid sentence, “Hello?” she said as she walked out of the room, phone to ear.  I smiled, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “If I called her right now, would I move to the front of the line?  Would I get to finish what I was saying?  Would she think my effort to be funny?”

These incidents didn’t bother me; they have become the norm.

But they did make me wonder.  Who is it that has the rights to my attention?  Is it the person that sits before me?  or is it the person who calls me on my phone? 

I wondered. 

Until I met Emily.

We sat talking over tea and scones as our kids ran around the fountain outside of the coffee shop.  Emily’s phone rang and she reached into her purse.  I turned my head to preoccupy myself as she was about to take her call, reaching for my phone to check my email.  But I stopped, because rather than answering her phone, she did something peculiar.  She pulled out her iPhone, clicked the ringer over to silent, and put her phone back into her purse.

“Emily, why don’t you answer it?”  I asked, intrigued. 

“Because I am with you.”

“So?”  I said, not really understanding.

“Janna, I am spending time with you.  I will call back whoever it was when I get a chance.”

What in the world?  Who was this woman?  and what were these mysterious ways of hers?

I had been brought up seeing the phone as another extremity connected to a human’s body.

I resented it, sure, when my father was pulled away on a call, but years later I found myself just as dedicated to the phone as he. 

Most of the time I loved the phone ringing.  Made me feel important.  Even loved.  But every once in a while, I felt it a thorn in my side.  Controlled by it.  Even a slave to it at times.  Answering it out of obligation, for fear to disappoint the caller, whoever it may be.  I remember a good number of times carrying my half changed baby and their soiled bottom around the house trying to find the phone before the answering service picked it up. 

I finally decided that I need not answer it if it wasn’t conducive to my life at a particular moment.

“Janna, where were you?  Why didn’t you answer your phone?”  a friend asked me.

“Oh, I was busy.  I decided that I will answer the phone when I can and I won’t when I can’t,” I said.

“That’s rude, Janna.  It is selfish of you,” she replied.

And so I began chasing the phone around the house again at the most of inconvenient times.  Phone rings.  Grab baby out of bath.  Must find phone.  Must not be selfish. 

So here I was with Emily who just didn’t answer the phone.  And she seemed so at ease with the outcome.      

“Don’t people get upset with you?” I asked.

“Yep,” she replied.  “But my mother taught me a long time ago that I control my phone rather than it controlling me.” 

She then leaned very closely to me and whispered, “And sometimes I even leave it at home.”

I gasped.


Living life on the edge.  This was the kind of life that really excited me.

Independent, confident, and sure about her decisions, this Emily.

I leaned forward, meeting her face to face, our noses separated by merely inches, “Tell me more of your wild ways,” I whispered back, breathing tea breath into her face.


  1. What a fantastic story, I feel so attached to my phone. I think I may trying to leave it at home one of these days!

  2. Where on earth do you get a photo of a woman "wearing" a phone? Only on the internet, I suppose! I don't even have a cell phone to not answer, so I guess all this time I have really been living life on the edge. Who knew? And you can whisper into my ear with your tea breath any time, I'd just be thankful to be spending time with you, my friend!

  3. Great lesson made easy to hear with your trademark self-deprecating humor. :)

    (And that is an example to follow too. My husband is good at that too. I think its really admirable to be able to not take one's self overly seriously.)

  4. This is beautiful and meaningful. I completely understand everything you wrote, I think technology is taking over our lives at times. But I commend you for putting your half dressed baby first, the caller can wait!!

  5. Part II of this story is that I also refuse to get a Smart Phone for this very reason! Not only do I make every attempt NOT to talk to other people on the phone when I'm with someone in person, but I do not really want to also have the added distraction of Facebook, or Pinterest or whatever else the internet throws at me on a daily basis. :) That's what my LAPTOP is for!


    Janna this song for you... The phone crying...

  7. I really like this story. It reminds me of beautiful hospitality.