Some of us are too A.D.D. for cell phone conversations

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: October 2, 2012

I've written in the past about how voice calls and I don't get along. The cell phone changed the rules of engagement with communication in more ways than one. Where it was once acceptable to not answer a phone landline (do those still exist?) at any given hour of the day, people now carry a phone with them nearly everywhere they go. The person on the other end is absolutely expected to answer when someone calls.

Frankly, the fact that someone is demanding my attention when my phone rings, without knowing if I'm busy or not, rubs me the wrong way. I am called when it's convenient for the person calling me, not when they know I'm free. And that's exactly why I prefer to text message in most situations. It can be convenient for both parties and each person can respond when they find the time.

That's only the tip of the iceberg. The cell phone has not only changed how we communicate, but when and where we communicate, too.

Each and every day, I see people standing in line ordering food or a drink with a cell phone held to their head. "Hold on, I'm ordering," they'll say to the person on the phone. Or, even worse, they'll hold up a line and someone who's just trying to do their job so they can continue or finish their conversation before ordering. Maybe you've been behind someone talking on the phone – or worse, texting – while driving. They swerve from the double yellow lines to the white line and back again while driving 20 miles per hour under the speed limit in a no passing zone. Or maybe someone text messaging has blindsided you on a sidewalk before, answered a phone call or texted in the movie theater or forgot to silence their ringtone during an opera or other musical performance.

Cell phones, while they give us endless hours of entertainment no matter where we are or what we're doing, have the tendency to bring out the worst in us.

But more than anything, there is nothing that infuriates me faster than hearing the phrase "Hold on" when I'm on the phone with someone, except, of course, someone who simultaneously carries two conversations while they're on the phone.

My ex would insist on talking on the phone every night. (Oh, young puppy love.) That said, she would constantly cut me off to reply to text messages every half minute or so. Then she would get upset when I didn't want to talk on the phone. I honestly think this is where my undying hate for talking on the phone began.

You forced me to stop everything I'm doing and gotten lucky enough for me to actually answer the phone, and you're going to tell me to "hold on"? Or you're going to continually talk to someone else while making me hold on the other end? I may seem a bit cynical here, but please do not bother calling me if you're going to continually cut me off, interrupt me or put me on hold.

My mother (bless her heart, I love her to death) is the world's worst for doing both of these things. I've spoken to her about it a few times and now I'll say, "Okay, well I'm going to go," or, "Call me back later," if she starts doing it too much. She's gotten better about it, but she still does from time to time.

I specifically remember a series of phone calls from my mother one day last summer. She called me and I answered. Before I had a chance to say anything, she said, "Hold on," then proceeded to place an order at Chick-fil-A. After paying for her meal, she asked me a question, I answered and we got off the phone. Not 20 minutes later, I received another call. Again, before I could say anything, she told me to "hold on for a minute" and ordered a venti Tazo tea. Later that day, she called me again while asking for help at a department store and once more that night.

This past Saturday, she did it again. She called me and kept asking me questions. When I would try to answer, she would begin talking to her husband in the background. After going through this a few times, I brought it to her attention that she kept cutting me off. She held her background conversation for a few minutes, we finished our conversation and ended the call.

I hate to put the brunt of the blame on my mother; by no means is she the only one who does this. She's just the only one I have an anecdotal recollection of doing it on more than one occasion. My sister is pretty bad about it, too, but we text more than call. And I'm sure I've done it a time or two to someone myself by accident. My dad is actually horrible for doing this in person, so much so it reminds me of The Barry Gibb Talk Show skit on Saturday Night Live.

The occasional "hold on" isn't all that bad. And if you need to talk to someone else while you're on the phone, tell the person on the other end to give you a second and mute the phone. (That option is there for a reason.) Or offer to call them back later. Better yet, text them. Email them. Facebook them. Phone calls are still necessary. But instant messaging or texting will suffice for most casual conversations or questions that aren't time-sensitive.

If you tell me to hold on too many times during a phone call, don't be surprised if the call ends before you're back or when I don't answer when you call again. I'll probably respond to your text, though.

How do you feel when someone tells you to hold on during a phone call more than a few times? What if they constantly interrupt your or have to ask, "What did you say?" Will you get frustrated, hang up on them or take it like a champ?