Monday, January 26, 2009

Extractive Personality

Most people change their phone's generic voicemail message to a personalized greeting. I appreciate that. I would like someone to produce an accounting for how much time is lost listening to the infernal standard greeting, the one which gives 45 options of things you might want to do instead of leaving a message. My guess would be that the number would be so high we would all be in danger of falling into a deep depression over it. The economy could turn around if only it weren't for the lost productivity and entrepreneurship.

No matter how soothing the voice, my veins shrink to half their original circumference and years come off my life as atherosclerosis sets in my cardiopulminary system every time I hear, "If you want to send a fax, press star. If you want to leave a callback number, press 45." Calls have been dropped from cell phones while drivers cross states, waiting to get through the endless options. "If you want to leave a number but not a message, press 17. If you want to hear an impression of your favorite Jewish comedian, press 18. If you want to hear an impression of your favorite gentile comedian, press 19...." There is relief when the beep finally does give way to expression. I'm calling someone on the phone! If they can't answer, I want to leave a message! What I don't want is to have other options. The only other option is to hang up and then have that aneurysm in private, because that is the only possible conclusion to what is a grandly stultifying experience. Type A personalities do not have an easy life.

These are the moments the zen Buddhist tradition was made to counteract. I wish I knew something about the zen Buddhist tradition.

Something that was extremely satisfying to me was when I cleaned my keyboard. I spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone today, mostly catching up with friends I have, through no fault of their own, ignored for months. I didn't mean to ignore them, it was completely something I was going through. Call it a hedgehog phase, where all I wanted was to curl up on a ball an be left alone. The requirement of such mature behavior is to call people you care about and explain yourself, so that hopefully they won't give up on being your friend.

While I was on the phone - this is the extraction part - I noticed my keyboard had cat hairs here and there. I pulled those away and looked more closely. The cat hair was only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the cat hair was a layer of lint, lintberg? tiny little lint bunnies hanging out behind the "d" and "v" and most of the keys. I tried to get at them with a pencil, but the tip wasn't long enough. Using the pencil was like popping a zit that you just KNOW goes much deeper than the initial bloop of release yielded. There was more lint, and I could see it but not reach it. I found a sewing needle and used the blunt end to poke around and pull out little balls of lint and cathair. I do not have words for the way it made me feel, but suffice it to say that "orgasmic" would not be an overstatement. "Satisfying" is too benign, although it was satisfying. I am having trouble finding the exact adjective. What comes to mind is that it might be like the experience of a dermatologist, excising the bacteria fouling a tiny pore, and then performing the excision one at a time, over and over, until the entire visage is free of contaminants.

Well, that was a whole paragraph of writing which will not go into the writing portfolio. I'd like to say I could attribute it to drunkenness, but no. I don't think blogging sober is very zen, but it was the best I could come up with.

1 comment:

Lady M said...

Almost all voicemail systems jump directly to the "beep" before you should leave a message if you just press #. The trick is finding out if it's one of those exceptions. Sometimes I press # and figure that I'll hang up and dial back if it doesn't work.