Guide | Telemarketing | Begging | Call waiting | Contribute

Call waiting

I had call waiting on my phone a long time ago, when I was working as a freelance from home. It was very useful then, because I didn't have email (did anyone in 1991?) and I was on the phone constantly, checking information. I used to worry about missing calls, if people got the engaged signal and didn't bother to ring back with a vital piece of data. Now I don't have it. And I don't miss it. (It's a problem to combine call waiting with being online, I believe. I have everything on one line, and an incoming call waiting signal can mess up your online connection.) When someone else's call waiting beeps, I notice it. If they don't seem to be aware of it, I always say something. (Is that yours? I say, for some reason,I know it must be theirs because I don't have it myself. Some strange oblique notion of politeness? Never say something directly when you can say it less directly. What if the other person had noticed, but decided not to take the call? Am I forcing them to take it? I suppose so. I guess I identify with the person on the other end of the line, trying to get through. Or I want to insist that the other person takes the call. If you're going to have that pesky facility, use it! A passive-aggressive response, come to think of it. The telephone gives you that one-on-one illusion of intimacy, and there's something disruptive about call waiting: it suggests that there's a third term in the telephone relationship. A triangle not a line. If you've got it, I suppose you use it. It's appropriate to turn it on any time, I'd say, unless you knew you were about to make a call that you didn't want to be interrupted. An interview, or a particularly sensitive conversation.
Philippa Hawker