So I had a real rush of blood to the head when, while sitting at my computer in my first-floor flat, someone was shouting my name at the top of their voice, from the ground floor! The “hugely urgent” message was that the licence disk on one of the seminary’s vehicles had expired at the end of last month. Granted, this is important when we are about to use said vehicle for field work, but would it have taken too much effort to come and knock on my door?
Another pet hate is when people who ‘phone you can’t be bothered to leave a message. Because I spend the major part of each day in lectures, I am invariably unable to take calls during the day – not to mention the fact that it’s just downright rude to leave your ‘phone on while someone is conducting a class. For this reason I leave my ‘phone on silent. When it rings, I have a quick glimpse at the display in case it’s my wife, who knows my class schedule and would therefore only call me if it is something urgent. If it’s a number I don’t recognise, I let the call go to voicemail.
But herein lies the rub: If someone wants to get hold of me, and it’s important enough to them, then why, for crying out loud, can’t they be bothered to leave a message? Am I expected to ‘phone every strange number that appears on my ‘phone to find out who might be trying to get hold of me, and why?
A case in point is some persistent soul from the Pietermaritzburg area who has been trying to ‘phone me virtually every day for almost two weeks. They must be going through a switchboard, since the number is different each time. That’s the only explanation I can think of, since I don’t know that many people in Pietermaritzburg! Anyway, today was the last straw so I decided to ‘phone the number, only to find that it was a debt collection agency for a group of doctors I’ve never even heard of, let alone made use of. In fact, the only doctor’s visit we’ve had since arriving at seminary was for James’ repeat prescription for his asthma medication – a visit we paid cash up front for.
Based on the premise of “don’t get mad – get even”, here are some rules that I’ve put into place, effective immediately:
- If you shout at me from the other end of the building or from the ground floor – you will be ignored.
- If you call me on my ‘phone and, when I’m not available, don’t leave a message – you will be ignored.
- If I am busy with an assignment or have another engagement and you summon me to your office for something that is not particularly urgent, and you haven’t made an appointment with me – you will be ignored.