Susan's Blog

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Caller ID, Ego, and Superego

Can I confess something strange? I am in love with Caller ID. But it may not be a relationship that’s good for me.

A phone service monogamist, I had no idea what I was missing with only a Basic Plan. As I spent most of my time at the office using phones to talk to various people within the organization, I always thought of the plans and Caller ID service which my office used and how wonderful it would be if I could get my hands on something remotely good as that. One fine day as I was at my friend Suzan’s place I saw that her phone showed names of the people who called her and after talking to her a little more about it, I just had to have it. I signed up for Caller ID, agreeing eagerly to the extra $7.50 a month because I, like most other people I know, needed to screen my calls. And then – why not, with the zeal of the new convert I sprung for “Call Waiting,” for the further convenience of being able to get out of calls I didn’t want to be in. And of course, in case my kids needed me.

I was thrilled the first time my phone rang and I saw the name and number of the caller spelled out. Aha! I didn’t want to talk to her! And I didn’t; I pretended I wasn’t home. I let Voice Mail get it. I was immediately struck by this new dishonesty in my life. Voice Male is like the guy in your life you maybe can take for granted, always there, waiting for you to come back to him, to listen to, delete, or repeat as often as you like. I waited until it started in with its tumescent red flashing and then I listened to the message. And so it began. Caller Id was causing me to cheat and lie. But it was a small price to pay for this heady freedom from unwanted conversations.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get better for me, Caller Id revealed the tantalizing feature,“Private Caller.” Oooooh, how exciting. But then I later learned that many others whom I do not want to talk to have unlisted numbers, too. I realized that I would have to answer the call of the Private Caller, and not know whom or what I was getting. So I learned the hard way that Caller Id could be a tease.

Then I saw more of its flaws when in the middle of an engrossing phone call I was punched in the ear by a dissonant beep and momentarily lost all connection with my caller. It was Call Waiting, interrupting like your mom, checking up on you. For this I had shelled out $4.00 a month?

And then came that noncommittal little item called “Out of Area.” ????? The first few were telemarketers, so I would not answer Out of Area. But the next Out of Area turned out to be a colleague calling with something urgent and she had to leave a message. Oh, evasive little calling package! And so now I would have to shell out an additional $5.00 monthly for “Call Intercept” if I really wanted this relationship to work.

Should I break up and scrap the whole Caller Id thing? No. Because when it works, Caller Id gives me a sense of control over an otherwise highly chaotic, demanding world. And without it, I would be forced to talk on the phone more. And that would mean less time to spend on the really important things in life, like checking email.

I won’t even begin to get into my sick, masochistic relationship with E Male…


I love it! And I, too, am caught up in a dysfunctional relationship with Caller ID. It gets worse, though… I’ve been seeing Tivo on the side.

— added by MOM-NOS on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 11:02 pm

That last line is quite enigmatic. You can’t mean Ned, but he is one of the most E males I know.

— added by Pete Lyons on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 7:56 am

Interesting thought, Pete,
that is my little secret, but stay tuned…

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 9:08 am

Or is it Call Her ID?

We may not all be cyborgs yet, but looks like the new way to figure out our identity is via our choice of “options” on our phone, cell, cable, email.

What’s a fEmail to do?

— added by kristina on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 2:33 pm