Introvert Toolkit: Just Call, Already.

The 1980s had dozens of television commercials about the benefits of phone calls. They could save you a trip to a closed business, start a pep talk with a family member, or get caught up with a friend. Some were from the yellow pages companies, some were from the local phone companies. Most featured tag or jingle lines like, “phone first!” or “reach out and touch someone” or “just call”. Even now with the ubiquity of smartphones, you can still save time calling ahead. Even with Yelp and Google and the businesses’ own website . . . the hours still could be wrong. But it’s more than that; it’s not just the avoidance of wasted time.

Introverts hate picking up the phone. Often, it’s a hate with fiery and sweaty-palmed passion. Same thing for the shy, the awkward, and those on the autism spectrum. This means about 30% of the population would rather risk being wrong or missing a crucial piece of communication than making a phone call.

But here’s the thing. Introverts also dislike spending more time than needed on interactions with people. If I do not call that auto repair place because they are open for another hour on their Google listing and when I arrive they are about to close, I now have to interact with THEM, as well as the next place on the list.

This does not just apply to business hours. This is even more important in business RELATIONSHIPS. At work, the difference between picking up the phone and writing an email is so night and day that extroverts laugh at our silliness and reluctance to talk to a human.

And after decades in the workforce, it is still hard to remember that one 10-minute phone call can prevent hours and dozens of emails. Not to mention you now have a “face” to that other person and they are far more likely to work with you in the future. Why is that? Because most of the time the person that I (and you) need to call is an extrovert. They wouldn’t be in that sales or marketing position if they were not. So they LOVE phone calls. They EXPECT phone calls. For them, that’s all well and good.

For us, they’re a necessary hurdle in our quest for efficacy in life. See it this way: the more times you pick up the phone, the less time needed for carefully worded interactions in the future. And possibly less time needed for interactions AT ALL with that person in the future. So for an introvert, that’s a win.

So here’s the big, magical toolkit/tip/hack: MAKE THE CALL.

This tip was written with business in mind, but it applies 110% to personal relationships as well. THAT might be another post for another time.

Call Me By My Name(s)

I’m at the rear counter of a curio shop, ordering a mocha latte for my aunt Dolores. The owner, a woman in her 70s, is describing the size options to me in a not-abundantly-clear fashion. The small sounds rather small but is not terribly expensive though a number is not given. The large is $15 for newcomers, less for repeat customers. And two are, of course, $30. Because I am who I am even in my dreams, I order one small and wait for the cup.

My aunt and other traveling companions, who may or may not include my mom and other family members, are outside, admiring the small town views of rural highways and endless land. Before I went inside, we were remarking on how each house had two addresses plainly written on their exteriors or mailboxes. It kind of looked like this, for each and every house we spied while walking around town:

house with two addresses

A house, with divided addresses, cannot . . . exist?

This was a curious practice; I suspected part of the reason my aunt pressed some money into my hand and told me to go fetch her a latte was so that I could ask the locals in the shop what was up with the house addresses.

Through eavesdropping and some small inquiries, I had an answer. Turns out that there is a nearby town, larger, used for shopping trips and the like by the residents of the small town. The larger town has essentially consumed and absorbed the residential contents of the small town, though the small town seems to be suspicious of this. The two addresses reflect the locals’ shifting realities and inability to accept the larger city’s grand plan. One address is their official location relative to the larger town. The other is the small town address, from which no local can bear to part ways. Hearing this explanation made some sense to me, and I prepared to relay it to my travel partners. Just as soon as I received my potentially-expensive mocha latte, that is.

But before I could see the looks on their faces upon hearing the explanation, I woke up, wondering what was going to happen next. In reality, what happened was I took down some notes about this dream. And then I began musing on this dual-address state, not just of residence but of mind.

How often do we find ourselves with two “locations” in life? We are both children of our parents and adults (or even parents ourselves). We can be both an independent person and a spouse (with or without a new legal name). We can exist as a lover to a stranger and a stranger to our families. And often, for those who overthink our lives, we can exist as a fully realized adult human with accomplishments seen by our acquaintances and friends and yet feel like child who needs to get on with adulting to ourselves.

While our many statuses can act in concert to balance out our life goals or current choices, they can also act in opposition, causing suffering that is unnecessary. We contain multitudes, indeed. Each of these possibly dueling states has a “location” within our minds—and in the minds of those who surround us. Unlike those houses of my dream, we rarely wear both of our addresses at once. One is outside (the parent, the functioning adult, the artist) and one is inside (the dreamer, the child, the wanderer).

To boldly show both of our faces at the same time, both of our “addresses”, to the public at large is a rare act of vulnerability. It can make folks uncomfortable to see the duality freely acknowledged. Like when you see a politician cry during a speech. Or you see a woman breastfeeding in a business suit. Luckily, we live in an era that is starting to accept our many facets. That’s progress. Those examples I gave above might still raise an eyebrow, but they would have been unheard of—scandalous—a few decades ago.

What are your locations? Are they in neighboring towns, or are they antipodes so far apart there’s oceans and earth to keep them separated?

P.S. The original intent for this thread was to dig deeper and explore the history of name-changing for marriage and the cultural implications thereof, but it went in another direction, as thoughts often do. Perhaps I will explore the spousal tradition inquiry in a future post.

Recovering From Blog Loss in Two Easy Steps

silverton-pano-pre-dawn-winter-md

  1. Accept.
  2. Create.

I let life get in the way of taking care of administrative tasks like renewing my domain host, and consequently lost 2 years’ worth of data. 240 blog posts in total, and their photos. Stuff about ultrarunning, philosophy, writing, and food. The things I love.

Now why would I lose those in this age of file storage and such? Surely I made backups. Well yes, I did. I’m not that out of touch. Thing is, I backed them up to the hosts’ servers. When my account was deleted, no more files. I only have an xml download of the posts’ metadata. No images, no content. Just tags and categories and titles. Even archive.org hadn’t trolled the site due to my robots.txt setting. Wow.

Having the titles is sadder than losing everything, because I can now see what was lost. I can remember the posts and think, yeah that was a good one. I didn’t write often so when I did write it was usually long and thought out.

So what’s the answer to all of this? Nothing, really. I’m already a fairly good Stoic so this is not difficult to accept, or at least to know that I will accept it quite soon. I’ve lost data before. It’s data. It’s 1s and 0s and words that ultimately was a personal blog read by almost no one.

That’s OK.

I’m the same person with the same capacity to create. And I will.