Saturday, July 6, 2013

Phone Etiquette

In America.. we are a little crazy about our “phone privacy” so to say. We can see who is calling.. if we don't know the number it is possible to look it up online before calling it back (especially if they didn't leave a message).. we can leave a message!! We are generally picky as to who we give our personal number out to.. business numbers are more public but we still regulate to the best of our ability.

In the US.. I personally am a huge stickler about what calls I answer. If I don't know your number, I will not answer. I even make a point to tell people when I give them my number. If I don't know your number, and you don't leave a message, I will not call back.

When we make phone calls, except for an occasional long call to a close friend or family member, we keep our talks short and simple. We aren't big on formalities. These days many people will just send a text and avoid the conversation all together. Why waste time on the phone when you can just send out a text “Restaurant 5 o'clock” and be done with it.

This leads me to the point of this post. In this country greeting and talking with acquaintances is a huge part of the culture, and as some of you know from trying to call me, voice mail does not exist. Someone might call 10 times, but since you don't have an answering device, you don't know why they called, and most often it is for no reason at all except that at 1 am they decided they just HAD TO call and say hi.

I don't really consider this a bad thing. It is really nice that people call to just say hi and ask how your family is and how work is going. It is a concept that has become almost completely lost to us in the US.

On the other side of this.. there are some things that (as an American) drive me up the wall.

As an American.. I do not appreciate you calling.. because you got my number from someone or somewhere, and since I may or may not know someone you know (and since as an American I stick out like a sore thumb/ most people who have ever known an American think that they know me too). If you don't know me. Don't call me. DO NOT call me and when I say “Hi, Who is this?” Respond with “What is your name?”... if you don't know my name.. why are you calling me. Also, you are speaking way to fast and I'm probably going to hang up. If you do know me, I'm sorry, but then again, you wouldn't be asking for my name.  **This also goes for Beninese men who think that they might be able to get me to go out on a date with them... or help them get to America.. just because they know I'm an American and they got my number from somewhere. Do not call me.

As an American.. I do not appreciate the beep. Since there is no messaging system, and since you  “pay as you go” and have to go out and buy phone credit every time you run out.. people beep you. Basically, it is when you have enough credit on your phone to make a call, but not enough to actually talk. SO you call, let it ring once and hang up.. and often you do this repeatedly. The reason this is infuriating (as an American) is that some people will just do this because they don't want to spend their own money talking to you. However, they have no real reason that they are calling other than just to say Hi. – As I mentioned above this has become a foreign concept to the American.. and quite frankly.. we feel that if you just want to say Hi.. call with your own money. That might come across a bit insensitive.. but when someone beeps me 10 times in a row. As an American, I assume something is wrong. If I stop what I am doing, go out and buy credit, and call you back and its nothing, I will be friendly as a peach on the phone, but I am secretly boiling up inside.

As an American.. I don't understand why you called three times last week just to say Hi.. but can't be bothered to call and tell me the meeting is canceled.

As an American.. If you call me super early in the morning or super late at night, just know I'm probably not going to answer. That being said, I also might forget to call you back in a timely manner.. since I was half asleep when you called.

As an American.. I don't understand why you can't just send me a text.


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