That’s the fear of talking on the telephone. I Googled it just now, and was deeply disappointed that it does not have a cooler name. Phobialist.com has it indexed as “telephonophobia,” but that’s not much better and sounds made-up to boot. “Albuminurophobia,” for example, is the fear of kidney disease. That one sounds cool, but is anyone not afraid of kidney disease? I feel like that’s a really reasonable thing to be afraid of. But I digress, as I often do.
I looked up “fear of talking on the phone,” because I’m pretty sure I have it. Among what are probably a couple other flavors of social anxiety, making phone calls causes me an inordinate amount of distress. Not when it’s my friends or my family (okay, sometimes when it’s my mom, but that’s different (just kidding Mom I love you (sorry for all the parentheses (I’m a computer science major)))), but when a situation requires me to pick up the phone and make contact with someone I don’t know, an icy dread runs down my spine and my fingers will literally shake as I’m dialing.
My anxiety was brought into sharp focus today at work. One of the things we do for musicians is help them put out a mobile app through Apple, but something went wrong and we got locked out of one of our iTunes accounts. This is when a normal person picks up the phone and calls Apple and asks the nice people on the other end of the line to please unlock our account.
I started frantically searching the Internets for some way—any way—to solve the problem without calling Apple support. It turns out that it’s a fairly common problem and lots of people were talking about it on various forums. But all the conversations marked with a friendly green check mark (for “problem solved” in case my blog is all you’ve seen of the web) invariably ended with that fateful sentence (not the grammatical kind, the doom kind):
“Called Apple support. They fixed the problem before I was off the phone. Now there’s a beautiful rainbow spilling through my window on dewdrops of happiness.”
I may have paraphrased a little. My workmate found me in my cube. He was impressed with my efforts to solve the problem, as he had not thought to Google the issue, but ultimately it didn't matter. “We’ve had this problem before and all we’ve had to do is call up Apple and ask them to fix it," he said.
I presented my disappointing search results. Suddenly he seemed to notice how wide my eyes were.
“You don’t want to do this,” he deduced.
“I get nervous calling the Nissan dealership to schedule a service appointment,” I admitted. It’s the truth.
I wish there was a more dramatic end to this story. I wish I could tell you I overcame my fear or grew as a person in some way. I could make something up, but the truth of the matter is simply that my workmate made the call. Maybe the lesson is that human culture isn’t survival of the fittest after all. Sometimes the broken people make it.
I don’t mean to belittle the afflictions of people with serious mental disorders and social anxieties that make it difficult for them to manage their lives from day to day. I can only tell my own stories, and assure you guys that if you’re broken in little ways, you’re not alone.
Well that was a terrible ending. Um…How about: Everyone’s crazy and it’s okay! That’s good. We should make… what day is today? March 28th. We should make March 28th Everyone’s Crazy and It’s Okay Day. It will catch on. I can feel it.