I know that it’s something other people with Autism happen to deal with. The Phone. I sit here staring at it every day. It takes me four hours to make a single phone call. Which of course comes after I plan out my calls sometimes four days in advance. The phone… it feels like an enemy despite the fact that my phone isn’t even a smart phone so it lacks the most basic sentience. Not certain if Smart phones are sentient but my carer’s Blackberry says it’s thinking all the time so I will suppose it’s a very stupid smart phone since it rarely gets past the first thought of the day.
I hate my phone. From the phone bill, which if I was willing to risk being out without a cellphone could be less, on to the talking. The talking is the worst part. Why is it people shout into the phone? I know I am quiet and hard to hear but most of the people I know literally yell into the phone. When I had roommates I started asking one of their guests to go to another room since every time she was on the phone she began to yell. The roommates got louder too but this was usually because our phone was a piece of crap landline, and even I had had to yell into it so I wrote that off.
The phone fills me with foreboding. If I could translate that feeling into a story the phone would be the killer in one of my gory little trips down violence lane. The phone did it. Not the man, woman or mutant sewer alligator. It was the act of saying “Hello?” The silence at the other end, a crackle that could be breath and then you are dead, in the dial tone of terror.
This is about how it feels to make a call. I know the phone won’t actually kill me but this supposedly innocuous device creates a whole new level of communications challenge. Even texting can be difficult for me if I am tired or if my hands won’t function. Coordination is never a guarantee. Texting is the best part of a phone however, as I know when it is my time to text.
Sometimes waiting to talk on the phone I pull up a clock, so I can watch the second hand. This helps me to feel less like it has been an eternity since the other spoke when it has been a single breath. I am always angry sounding on the phone, but this is because I am focused on hearing you, understanding you, and frankly, knowing when it’s my time to go.
I often hang up on people too early. I don’t get the phone right, which bothers me. I feel self conscious with the phone. I can’t see you. You always sound hostile to me when I can’t see you. Then the phone brings me bad news. Whenever my student loan people call it’s never what I expect. “We approved you for this deferment but the department of education says your doctor isn’t the right kind of doctor.” Yet, they can’t explain why my doctor is not qualified to sign the paper. They don’t even understand what they are saying so I hit the end button before I yell at them for being stupid. Why would you hire someone who cannot understand and explain what is wrong with the papers? I already took care of this but am I to be a mind reader? Am I to infer that they wanted an MD not an Osteopath? They don’t know the difference and I don’t either. Luckily my doctor’s office does and someone else there can and will sign the papers.
The phone. It’s stalking me now. The only useful thing about the phone for me is the alarm clock. I do have internet on my phone but that is merely a back up in case my coping mechanisms fail then I can wait patiently while I poke at the buttons and read something on wikipedia. It’s about staying calm. In that moment the phone is the worst computer ever.
I suspect the advent of the video phone will eventually occur and I wonder if that will be worse or not. What about those six am calls from idiotic office workers who don’t comprehend that I am sleeping? Will they be more awkward since I don’t wear clothing to bed? I think that’s the entire reason why videophones aren’t what we use anyway. The video phone would level the playing field by making certain EVERYONE feels as awkward as I do on the phone.