Identifying crisis caused by caller ID


Imagine my surprise to discover that I don’t know how to answer my phone anymore.
This is mainly because there is no surprise. I have caller ID, so obviously I can see who’s on the other end. This renders an inquisitive greeting pretty redundant.
Conversely, if I greet the caller by name too effusively, it sort of creeps people out.
Of course, answering in an “I’m not overly excited to hear from you” monotone doesn’t exactly elicit warm fuzzy feelings either.
Even if I don’t use the caller’s name, but answer in an I-know-who-you-are way, it unsettles people, even those who themselves have caller ID. I think it implies a kind of psychic friends network connection going on.
Crisis. Fortunately, there are now etiquette guides for virtually everything and anything.
A quick trip across the information superhighway enlightened me to the fact that “greeting someone by name is indeed a bit forward or presumptive. In fact, it threatens to steal the caller’s thunder.” Fantastic news.
What started as a simple convenience and/or way to dodge telemarketers has evolved into an assault on the dignity of my family and friends.
Before I could selfishly do irreparable harm to the apparently fragile psyches of my nearest and dearest, I also learned that the telephone manner mavens advise sticking with the classics.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.