I'm not sure when it will be, but eventually I’ll outgrow quoting movies and TV shows with my friends.
It’s a helpful tactic to describe situations, likening our dispositions with those of fictional characters in movies like “The Waterboy,” “Happy Gilmore” or “Remember the Titans.” I can’t tell you how many times I mutter to myself “Today, junior!” in the voice of Adam Sandler’s namesake character Billy Madison when a car in front of me is a little slow getting moving at a red light.
There’s always a quote to sum up everyday life. Sometimes, it’s even a song lyric.
A few weeks ago, my cousin Jeanette got married in a beautiful, socially distanced, masked, mid-week matrimony ceremony at Point State Park in Pittsburgh. It really was a nice day for a white wedding. (See what I said about lyrics?) While we were waiting for the wedding to start, I conversed with one of my best friends, John, who’s now also somehow related to me after marrying Jeanette’s younger sister last year.
Anyway, we got to talking about what kind of food will be at the reception and about some “The King of Queens” episodes.
I brought up one scene when Jerry Stiller’s character, Arthur, is trying to give his son-in-law, Doug (Kevin James), the number for Domino’s, or “a little neighborhood joint” as Arthur tells it. When Arthur gives Doug the number, at first he speeds through it, far too fast dial. On the second try, Arthur messes up the cadence. “How about a little phone number rhythm?” Doug pleads.
When I leave messages (on voicemail; do people even have answering machines anymore?) for people seeking comment or information, I feel like I have pretty good phone etiquette.
I try to go very slowly when leaving my number and extension, partly because I know how hard it can be to try and listen, comprehend and jot down a phone number all at once.
John, who runs the pro shop of a local country club and spends his days scheduling tee times and dealing with the general public, said he prides himself on phone etiquette.
We agreed it all comes down to speaking slowly. Sometimes very slowly. Painfully slowly.
But if it helps just one person get back to you then that’s what it’s all about, right?
Sometimes, if the situation calls for it, I’ll send a companion text message if I’ve worked up some sort of rapport with that person already. Some people would rather text.
Heck, so do I, especially if it’s getting late and I know I could potentially be giving someone anxiety by making their phone ring at 11 p.m. I’m flexible. Mostly, I’m just trying to not be annoying but also getting the answers I need by deadline.
And by all means, if I ever leave someone a message and don’t practice great phone etiquette, let me know. Just be sure to have a little rhythm when leaving your name and number.
(Pete Sirianni is the assistant editor at the New Castle News. Email him at email@example.com.)