Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Phone Voice

Have you ever noticed that you speak differently on the phone than you do in person? Or you speak differently when you're trying to impress someone, say a future employer? Well, I am victim to the phone voice. I have several different ones, all competing inside my head. It's a bit crowded in there to begin with, so you can imagine the strain this puts me through everytime I get a phone call.

First, there is the Friend phone voice. I know this person and generally want to make plans with them or figure out what is going on. It is brisk, playful and quick. It's like a breezy lunch with the girlfriend from the office down the hall: you eat some salsa, dish about the top layer of your love life, giggle about the cute guy down the hall and his butt, then go off with promises of dinner next week. It's spontaneous and friendly, never too serious.

Then, there is the Family phone voice. This is for my parents, sister and in-laws. My husband is not included because he has his own special voice. (For you in the gutter, it is not breathy or sexy in any way. You should know by now I am not that kind of person. It's more giggly, cute and bouncy, like cheerleader on crack. Moving on). My Family voice is friendly, cheerful, thoughtful and prone to whining and complaining. IT likes to drag out long issues such as why I don't have a job and what the rude lady at the post office said to me. It discusses uninteresting subjects such as why the scrapbook industry, once well-intentioned, is not a trend. It seeks advice, information and attention and will stop at nothing to get it.

Then, there is the Random person voice. This is when I'm calling to find out information about something, like when a store closes or why they don't have the blue shirt I need before I commit suicide. It is disinterested, a small attempt to be friendly, and really just wants the information and not the long drawn out explanation of why you can't give me that. I don't care you were hungover because the love of your life dumped you and you're too lazy to punch some keys, I just want my damn shirt. GIMME GIMME GIMME.

Then, there is the Journalist voice. I am serious, persuasive, and determined to get a good quote out of you. I may laugh and sound friendly, but I have no qualms about finding out you still pee your bed. And I will print it. I'm not cruel, and I won't try to ruin your life, but I do want you to talk. I will cajole, brow-beat and ask you the same question three times if you don't give me an answer. And don't even bother getting rude like someone I talked to earlier today- I will give it right back to you. I will be neutral in print, but make no mistake: the pen is mightier than the sword. You may just wind up as some slime drizzling octopus in some irritated writer's story.

Last, but certainty a lot more interesting, is the Oh-My-God-I've- Called-90-People- and- I- Just-Want-A-Job-Because-No-One-Loves-Me-And-You-Have-To-Hire-Me-Or-I-Will-Simply-Perish voice. Laced with desperation and pleading, it screams that I will be the model employee because I am a doormat. While I convince myself I sound sweet, confident and assertive, my phone voice says that I am sweet, friendly and a hick. My accent gets about three times as thick, and I forget my own phone number. The only thing I know is that I am your best friend and I have three seconds to beg for a job before you hang up on me and go back to your interesting life.

The Exceedingly Long Titled Job Voice also has a persona. Out of desperation, I applied for a part-time preschool teacher position at the church right next to my house. I figured until I found a job I was crazy about, I could keep freelancing and earn some extra income a few days a week. As I was smiling and trying to convince the woman that my Baylor education had gotten me somewhere, she looked at my resume and said, "I see your major is in journalism."
"Yes," I said. "So, can you just not get a job?" she asked. I about died. My confidence shattered into a million pieces.

"YES!" my brain screamed. "I'm paranoid because no one has called me for an interview and no one likes me and I apply and apply and I got nothing. I have lowered myself to being a part time snot rag and am trying to smile and be happy about it and you have risked the last threads of confidence from my gripping toes! So be happy as I curl up in a ball and die from utter humiliation because I've become the loser I never said I would be!" Instead, I babbled something about liking kids and just moving here and making a quick exit. I'm not waiting by the phone.

Meanwhile, that is a selection of my phone voices. Tomorrow, we might discuss Other Selves. Do any of you Invisible Friends have phone voices? I would love to hear about them! Leave me a note (in Invisible Ink of course. I know you're tricky like that).