A few weeks ago a friend of mine said he was moving back to New York on November 16. Once he was back here and settled in, he wanted to collaborate with me on music. I said, “Great! Let’s do it up!” Then I proceeded to wait until the day arrived.
It came and went, with no contact from him. He gave me a phone number, which I knew was prepaid, but I called it anyway. My intention wasn’t to talk his ear off and burn up all his time; it was to just touch base and possibly get a rough estimate as to when we would start collaborating. I kept getting voicemail. Every now and then I would try sending him a private message on Facebook; still no reply.
As a last ditch effort I sent him an email to see if that got me somewhere, and it did. He wrote back saying, “I told you my plan when I got here. I had to reconnect with family and friends, get a job, etc. Here is my new number XXX-XXX-XXXX. We should look up local open mic nights and go to one together.”
Then, in the very next sentence, he said, “Stop calling me dude.”
I was taken aback. Here’s my number, let’s make music together…but stop calling me? Was he referring to my attempts to call his prepaid phone? But I’d called it only twice, three times tops! And why give me your new number, then say stop calling? Last but not least, how the HELL are we going to make music if I am forbidden to call?
I was a bit livid at first. This was the second person to suggest something to me then, after I said yes, back out of THEIR plan! (The previous person would be my girlfriend, who was just a weekend fling at first, but when I asked what she thought of me, she said, “I think of you as my boyfriend.” Then she asked if I wanted to be exclusive, and I said yes…only to find out she was straying on me every chance she could.) It was more than I could tolerate. Who the hell was he to do that…to get me all worked up and excited about my music progressing again…just to back out????
Then I scrolled through the history of the email. I saw the first sentence of my original message. My anger fizzled out, and I suddenly felt like I had an IQ of 3.
My first sentence said: “Dude, where are you?”
He hadn’t been saying, “Stop calling me, dude.” He meant “stop calling me DUDE.”
But you see what a subtle difference that is there? Just one comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Now if I had heard his voice, I would have heard the joking tone. I would have heard him laugh. He may have been laughing while he typed the sentence, but how could I have heard that???
This story is just one example of something I have said all along: the death of the phone call is a tragedy. We need to get back to TALKING instead of texting and emailing. I don’t see why it is so hard to do anyway. After all, how many times have you been texting someone for hours, only to have their phone go to voicemail when you say “screw texting” and try calling them?
A person’s tone of voice is more important than the words they choose. Something might read dead serious on the page or in a text, but they might be joking. I wonder how many relationships in this world have ended prematurely because one person interpreted a text wrong and then flew off the handle at their partner.
Let’s get back to CALLING each other, people!