Friends and associates often ask why I often don’t answer my wireless phone.

I have several rules about answering my iPhone when somebody calls.

Normally, I don’t answer:

  • If I’m eating at a public restaurant with someone;
  • If I’m driving;
  • If I’m on my motorcycle;
  • If I’m covering a public meeting for a newspaper (like the Board of Supervisors);
  • If I’m shooting photos at an athletic or musical event;
  • If I’m resting;
  • If I’m not in the mood.

I’ve had a cell phone since the mid-1980s, first in a car, then a portable and a hand-held.  That’s more than 30 years.  There was a time when I would pick up any call at just about any time.  No more.

Often I miss calls to my wireless phone because I leave it at home.  If I’m covering court in Floyd, which is just a five-mile drive from home, I leave it at home because I can’t bring it into a courtroom.  Sometimes I leave it at home because I don’t want to be interrupted.  As I get older, I find that a quest for quiet time increases.

At movies, I leave the phone in the car.  Movie theaters play several messages before a movie asking patrons to silence their phones so that don’t want to be interrupted by a ringing one while trying to watch a movie.  At a movie, I don’t want to be interrupted by anything. Having the damn thing vibrate during a movie is a pain in the ass.

If someone leaves a message when I’m not answering the phone I will return the call when I am at a place where I can safely use the phone.

Wrote poet Odgen Nash:

O misery, misery, mumble and moan!
Someone invented the telephone,
And interrupted a nation’s slumbers,
Ringing wrong but similar numbers.

At home, neither Amy nor I interrupt dinner or many other activities to answer the phone.  We figure if it’s important, we the caller will leave a message.

Caller ID makes it easier to ignore many phone calls.  Toll-free numbers with no name or listing are often unsolicited sales calls or a pollster calling. Phone calls with caller ID blocked are ignored.

Time is limited and precious.  It belongs to us and not to a phone scammer, sales person, pollster or just about anyone else.

There are much better things to do than interrupt something enjoy doing to answer a call unless the Caller ID shows the caller is family of friend or someone who calls only in emergencies.