Am I a millennial? (2) The Phone Calls Test

[Editor’s note: She was born in 1980 which, depending on what article you read, puts her in the Millennial generation, the Gen X generation, the Xillennial generation {whatever the hell that is} or the non-generation. This is the series where she attempts to figure that out. Read Test One here.]

When I was 8 years old, I played Little League softball and my softball hero was coaching my team. I worshiped the field this girl walked on. Even now, in my head, she has some elements of god-like defensive ability as a shortstop. It was probably my first real fangirl experience and the fact that she was going to teach ME how to hit a ball off a TEE and how to field my position (which OF COURSE was going to be shortstop) was levels of exciting that my little brain had never known. The problem was that I needed to know what time practice was.

“Then I guess you’ll need to call her,” my mother said to me and I instantly filled to the brim with dread.

“I can’t… CALL her!” I exclaimed.

“Kelly,” my mother replied sternly, “It’s just a phone call.”

It took me two hours to work up the courage to make the call and the entirety of the conversation was this:
Me: Hi. I’m just wondering what time practice is tomorrow.
Her: Oh hi! Yes, practice is at 9 tomorrow.
Me: Okay thank you.
Her: No problem! I’ll see you then. Bye!

I hung up the phone and was BEYOND proud of myself for having made that call. I immediately told Mom who was like, “Yeah. Okay. Good job?” [Editor’s note: She was looking for a trophy for that, wasn’t she?]

That experience has always stuck with me, however, because I hate phone calls. The mental aerobics I go through to make a call are extensive and since millennials are killing the art of conversation as a whole and most definitely on the phone, I figured it was a good topic to examine in my quest for a label. (That article is amazing. Where do people get this shit?)


To open, however, I don’t necessarily buy the idea that millennials hate the phone because their brains work faster than everyone else’s. Presumably, speedy brains probably do pretty well with phone calls because they are spontaneous and responsive and able to improvise. Inattentive brains are a totally different thing.

My brain is speedy and inattentive (which are incredibly great traits for a psychotherapist) so phone calls are terrible for me. (This is also why I have an awful time with podcasts. “I hate listening to people just talk,” I declared to my wife once. “Good profession choice,” she responded.) So what many articles suggest is that we now have so many things to pay attention to in any given second that talking to someone in real time whom we cannot see will just never rank high enough for all of our attention.

Basically, if I want to pay attention to anyone I am speaking with on the phone, I have to do one of two things: (1) Walk around or (2) Stare at the corner of my desk where there is nothing to look at. The second option exists because my office phone is corded and I am stuck in a 20-inch radius directly in front of my computer so the only safe place for me to look is the corner of my desk where I have placed the following sign:


It’s a strong reminder that whoever is on the other end of the call when I am in therapist mode needs my attention. The only other person who calls my office to speak to non-therapist me is my mother and, well, she basically has a sixth sense that detects the SECOND that I look at my computer when she’s telling me to be sky aware because it might rain, snow, be windy, or she heard there was a cloud in my general vicinity.

Because I also run my own practice, I have to return phone calls (since my phone is ALWAYS on silent because the second I forget to turn it off, it interrupts something important). This reminds me: I hate using my phone as a phone so much that I bought the “visual voicemail” feature so I can just read what someone said as opposed to having to listen.

These are all points toward being a millennial.


My wife and I still have a landline and I will have a landline for as long as they exist. I went without a landline at Poor Life Choices Camp and it always felt weird. If I had stayed there longer, I probably would have ponied up the five bucks a month to have one. And I think this is entirely driven by my hatred of calls dropping or not being able to hear the other person. And that, my friends, makes me think I’m a 72-year-old man who hates technology. (Plus, according to the movie “San Andreas” which is a totally accurate portrayal of how to survive a massive earthquake, you’ll need a landline in the case of disaster and all the towers go down. So yeah. It’s just PRACTICAL to have a landline.)

By the way, I have no idea how to check the voicemail on our home phone and have been known to lament the loss of answering machines because they were “easy” and the fact that I’m looking for an “easy” way to listen to my dentist remind me of my appointment is pretty indicative of something, right?

Right. So I’m a millennial for the phone calls test. But am I a Capital M Millennial?

All we can do is examine how The Millennial responded to this issue. To which I offer the following story:

One time, we were trying to order pizza and the app wasn’t working so I said, “Just call and order. It’ll be faster.”

She gave me a look to end all looks.

“You’re right,” I laughed, “I am terribly sorry to have suggested you amputate your left leg.”

We actually discussed this for about three minutes and I gave my very best pep talk that I believed in her that she could call and order a pizza and that I would be right there by her side the whole time. She more or less begged me to do it and I said, “No. This is an opportunity for growth.”

I honestly thought she might walk to the restaurant to avoid having to call, but then she actually did it and we got the pizza ordered. I felt GENUINE pride at this accomplishment for her. I am pretty sure she even jokingly texted a friend to tell someone she pulled it off.

“They probably thought I was stupid,” she said after.
“They probably thought you were ordering a pizza,” I offered. “It’s been known to happen there.”

My conclusion is this: I hate phone calls. I have a terrible mumbling problem and speak incredibly fast and I talk so much with my hands that I drop my phone probably every third call I am on.

I have to pep talk myself to make them and when I’m preparing to leave a voicemail, I usually say something like, “Okay. Here comes the beep. Then it’s showtime.” I have done a wide variety of stupid things on phone calls. I have told people helping me with my insurance claims, “Okay, I love you, bye.” Just today, I called a business and couldn’t remember my office number, then panicked and left the wrong number, then panicked and left the main office number, and when the woman called back, she said she played my voicemail for her coworkers because it was so funny.

But I am not ANXIOUS about phone calls and many of the Millennials I’ve known and worked with in therapy legitimately are. I don’t worry about sounding stupid because whatever. And if you think I’m NOT going to order pizza because the app is broken, then you do not understand my affinity for pizza. I think Capital M Millennials have actual anxiety about phone calls. So I’m just a lower case millennial here.

Seriously, though. Just text me. I’ll even welcome an email. My apologies to Mr. Graham Bell.

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