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Daze of My Life: I'm Not Your Pal, Either
Daze of My Life
I'm Not Your Pal, Either
by Kenneth B. Lourie
OK, let's get something straight. Since we just met, I'm not your friend. You don't know me from Adam, who may or may not be a hole in the wall. So when I call to speak to someone other than you, please don't respond by saying something like, "Sorry my friend..." or "You just missed him, my friend." Spare me the faux congeniality. I'm not calling looking for friendship. I'm making an inquiry. Don't treat me as if your boilerplate courtesy is an important part of my day. It isn't and it's nothing personal. It's just an unnecessary appendage, conversationally speaking, if you follow my drift, so keep your extraneous emissions to yourself.
I don't need, nor have any use, for hollow endearments. I wasn't born yesterday. I can take it. You don't have to let me down easy. We're not exactly ending a long-term relationship. We're not breaking up. You can be polite and sympathize without being disingenuous. I can accept the fact that the person with whom I wanted to speak is unavailable--or uninterested--in talking to me.
It's not a problem; it's a reality. Don't think that just because the party to whom I am not speaking (Lily Tomlin, sort of) is not present, makes me unaccounted for. Hardly.
He (or she) is not there for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with the timing of my call. I haven't planned my entire day around this call. I've simply planned to make this call. And if my intended contact has left the building or is indisposed or is out to lunch or in a meeting or on an appointment or out sick or on vacation or even on the other line, is also of minimal interest to me. Wherever the person is with whom I wanted to speak, is where that person is. No further explanation is necessary. And neither is an apology, or a willingness to help. You can't. I want to speak with whom I want to speak and if the powers that be work against (you'll notice I didn't say conspire so I'm only half crazy, right?) me and the person on whose behalf--and perhaps on whose phone you're now speaking--from ever connecting, so be it.
I have some more news for you. Your sincere characterization of our 10-second phone conversation as friendship will not in anyway make my day. Nor will it make my night or my weekend. What will make my day, and my night and my weekend is, respecting my privacy. If I don't want to leave my name or my phone number or my place of business or my reason for calling, please accept my unwillingness to do so as nothing more than time management. Believe me, if the reason
I was calling was important enough for me to leave a message, you wouldn't have to pry it out of me. And all the "my friend" greetings in the world are not going to get me to divulge information that, though hardly privileged, is not for your ears only; it's not for your ears period!
Take my words for it, in this context, anyway; your attempts at familiarity don't breed content. Are we clear on this, "Sport?"
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.
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