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To answer or not to answer
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I rarely, if ever, answer my home phone. That is not to say it doesn’t ring. It rings a lot. However, I no longer have that Pavolvian response to respond immediately to its siren call. A response those of us of a certain age remember. And a response that many far younger than I am feel when their cell phones ring or beep indicating that a text message has arrive.

I am on the no-call list. Yet, if my phone number is at all typical, that list has many loopholes.

First, and foremost in our minds during election season, are the myriad campaign robo calls. To those politicians who pay for these calls, I am not going to vote for you based on a one-to-two minute blurb on the phone, and I don’t care how famous the person is who endorses you by reciting said blurb. Any spin doctor can concoct a glib speech that could make Hitler seem electable.

Plus I realized years ago that I am a visual learner. One of my granddaughters call me often, on my cell phone, with a grammar question. I find myself writing the sentence down before I can answer her. I make my voting decisions visually. I read The Covington News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and consider the outlines of the candidates, their voting records and their platforms as reported in the papers.

People who want to give me free cruises or vacations call me on my home phone. They don’t really want to give me something for free; they want something in return, usually something that involves high pressure sales and money. I don’t know why they don’t fall in the no-call category.

People who want me to take a survey (that will only take a few minutes) call. They don’t really want me to take a survey. They want me to agree with whatever agenda they are pushing and word their questions so that I will agree with them.

A robo-call my husband and I enjoy is the poetic announcement of the menu for the Friday dinner at the Elks Club.

We get calls from charities wanting donations or asking me to mail letters requesting money to my neighbors. I have long ago decided what charities I support, and I am too old and too set in my ways to change.

Occasionally, there are actual phone calls from my friends or friends of my husband. These calls we do answer and enjoy. They are few and far between.

I sound like I am constantly answering the phone. Not true. We have whatever you call it that shows you the phone number of whoever is calling. So, yes, I do rise and attend to the phone when it rings. But I don’t always answer it. Not too much difference to answering the phone. I am still salivating like Pavlov’s dog.

The phone at the beauty salon I frequent announces either the phone number or name of the person who is calling after it rings. Now that’s a nifty feature. Then I would not have to go to the phone to see if I want to answer it.

I try not to answer the phone when my family is at the kitchen table eating a meal. This week my daughter, her husband and two granddaughters were eating with me. The phone rang and the answering machine picked up. A friend left a message.

One of my granddaughters heard the message, got a puzzled look on her face and said, “Grandmama, someone’s in your bedroom.”

Now does that make me feel old. I can remember when getting an answering machine was the cat’s meow. We were so proud that we could never miss a phone call again. Now the answering machine is obsolete.

My granddaughter is in the 5th grade. Her parents have cell phones (which have built-in answering machines) and no home phone. She had never heard an answering machine before.

My children, their husbands, my sister, one grandchild, and my husband and I all have cell service with the same company. So we get to talk to each other for free, not really, but it doesn’t count in minutes. A fact that probably doesn’t matter to the children who have unlimited minutes. We all communicate by cell.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at