The telephone call experiment


Roger.cartoonDirectly as a result of this March 13 video by vlogbrother Hank Green, I decided on the telephone call experiment. It was to call two people a day, every day. I started on March 20, the first full day of the vernal equinox in North America.

And I did it religiously each day until Memorial Day weekend when it was too complicated. That was the first night since before COVID that I stayed overnight anywhere other than my own bed. It was on a visit to my mother-in-law’s house. I decided then to cut it to one call per day.

As it is usual with me, I had lots of rules. I never left a message because I did not want to obligate someone to call me back. If I didn’t get someone, I’d go on to the next person. Interestingly, several people DID call back, but I never counted them in my one or two calls. In fact, one Friday in April, after I had completed my two calls, three people returned calls. This meant I was on the phone a lot that day.

Being on the phone was an occupational phenomenon for me in my working days, far more than for my colleagues. Sometimes, I just needed to call The Person who knows stuff.

Randomly methodical

The lists I worked off were three: my church roster, an address book from c. 2006, and some random phone numbers I took from my emails and put in my Google contacts. I worked them in no particular order. Sometimes I’d see someone’s birthday pop up on Facebook and I’d call them. The exercise was a variation of something I used to do in the 1980s and 1990s, pick up my address book and unexpectedly call someone.

The responses were usually enthusiastic. Some were to people I hadn’t actually spoken to since 1998 or 2004 or 2006. The church folks, on the other hand, were folks I had seen two months earlier but I had gotten used to seeing each week. A couple wondered why I was ringing them. “You’ve never called before,” one said, and that was true enough. Then again, I never had the need to before.

The calls ran from four minutes to well over an hour. Some were people I missed terribly, yet our conversations picked up as though almost no time had passed.

I suppose the next iteration of the telephone call experiment will be me leaving messages with people. Some folks just don’t pick up their phones and/or the calls go automatically to the recording.

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