Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Phone Failure

I had to use the phone yesterday.

I hate the phone. I can use it at work just fine... answering it, helping people, hearing what they are saying. But at home, my anxiety levels about the phone skyrocket. I worry I won't be able to hear, that the other person will talk too quickly, or that I'll answer a question bizarrely because I misheard it.

I had to call my doctor yesterday to make an appointment to get a prescription refill. They require appointments for all refills, and they only do same-day appointments, so I had to call yesterday at 7:30 in the morning to get an appointment. On their appointment line, they don't have an answering service set up. It's either a busy signal, which means you have to hang up and try again, or it will ring and ring and ring until someone picks up. It took me 30 minutes of trying before someone answered the phone. My heart sank as I heard what they were saying... "Dfsjieh, werwer, orld." Just gobbledegook, delivered quickly, and mumbled. I had to ask them to repeat themselves 3 times before I realized they were just trying to put me on hold.

Once I was on hold, I kept hearing things in the background. It wasn't hold music, but I couldn't figure out what it was. It could have been someone trying to answer the phone, I don't know, or maybe I wasn't actually put on hold but the phone was set down. I finally gave up and asked my husband to call.

It was very frustrating. It makes me feel like a failure.

From Flickr user Diederick F.M. Cools
Image of a telephone plugged into the wall.

There are a lot of things I have accomplished. I have a good life and I am blessed to rarely feel disadvantaged or put upon because of my hearing loss.

And yet one thing I still have difficulty with knocks me down every time.

I try to reassure myself before I make a call that it will go just fine. I will be able to hear them, I will sound professional, we will communicate effectively and I will accomplish what I need. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't work that way... and it bugs me.

I used to use relay services pretty often for phone calls. Unfortunately a lot of businesses just don't educate the people answering the phone with how to deal with relay calls. I was always getting hung up on, not getting answers, or unable to get through to people. When it works, it's awesome... and I think I may need to go back to using it for my doctor.

One thing I try to take away from "failed" phone calls is what NOT to do when on the phone. Since answering the phones takes up about 20-30% of my job, I have to know how to communicate effectively on the phone. By listening to other people failing at communicating I can be better. I have a pretty good "phone voice," and I work hard not to mumble or speak too quickly. If someone needs something repeated, I try to slow myself down and speak more clearly, not more loudly, since yelling just serves to obfuscate a voice over the phone even more. And sometimes I fail at that, too. Sometimes people insist I am speaking too quickly or not loud enough. When that happens, I feel bad (unless they are rude). I can definitely put myself in their shoes. I know how it feels.

All we can do is try... try to make ourselves clear, and keep trying even when failures happen. I will call the doctor again, next time I need an appointment. No sense letting it stop me.


  1. That's weird I have the the opposite issue than you do. I freak out when I have to use the phone for work since I work retail and folks usually want a quick solid answer and there is a lot of background noise where I work. At home I make sure that I have LOUD phones or phones that were more hearing aid compatible.

    I thought you had those new digital hearing aids that were blue tooth capable. I figured you might use your cell phone as I once did until I got so frustrated with my hearing aids I gave up on them.

  2. Why don't you use CapTel? Can use CapTel or WebCapTel. I have a CapTel 800i. All I need is an internet line for the second line. I finally was able to get rid of my second phone line with the CapTel 800i! Check into getting the CapTel 800i. I got it for a special price of $100 from WCI Technologies... Normally it's $500. I hope it's still selling for $100... CapTel is also available on the Web... The beauty of CapTel is that you yourself can talk on the phone, etc. No relay service to announce. Sure, you use a middle person but that person doesn't say a thing.

    I also use Nextalk at work, using the Voice Carry Over option. I love it.

    I hate phones, period. I don't like them at home, and I don't like them at work.

  3. Hey Renata - that is weird, that we're opposite. :) I do use a cellphone at home, I don't have a landline at all. Unfortunately, even with Bluetooth, it's not always clear especially when the other person is mumbling.

    Anonymous - I have been curious about CapTel but haven't looked into it too much. I'll have to investigate some more.

  4. I had a CapTel at home for awhile but after we moved from our apartment to our house we lost the power adapter to the phone and have never been able to use it again. I wrote about my experiences using phones on my blog with the following article. http://stuckintwoworlds.com/2009/12/challenges-listening-on-the-telephone/

    How are you able to hear so well at work? Is it quiet where you are at or do you have a special phone that assists you? I can barely hear on my work phone.

  5. Thanks for the link to your blog post! I'll have to do some more investigating.

    I think I am just lucky when it comes to work. It is not a quiet area and just a normal phone, but I have noticed the phones we use have very good clarity. The phones are Avaya 4610 SW IPs... typical office phones but I guess they get the job done pretty well. There are times when I end up having to have another staff member take over the call for me and sometimes patrons have to repeat themselves a few times, but overall, it's been a good experience.

  6. I also dread using the phone, mostly for making or receiving calls to people I do not know well. I usually can't get through a conversation without asking the other person to repeat themselves at least 5 times.

    I have lots of trouble on cheap phones and on cellphones. I'd love to try a bluetooth aid and cell.


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