werid.org
No inner peace

by Daniel Stephens

The phone rings, you glance at it and notice the time, 5:45pm. "Is it her?" you ask yourself silently, and with some hesitation pick up the receiver. "Hello?".

The near silence on the other end of the phone confirms your initial suspicion, with a sign you hang up the phone and try and concentrate on what it was you were doing. Slowly you remember where you left off and start typing once more. The phone rings again.

At this point, the choice isn't so much whether you should pick up the phone or not, it's whether you should put that line on hold, or else let it transfer to voice mail and block calls for the rest of the evening. The dilemma of course is whether you will miss an important call from a client, but if you don't get this work done you'll never leave, so the Do Not Disturb button wins.


On the way home that night, you reflect on the past few weeks, "This is much better than it was before I moved...", the mental words fade out as you stop and think, is it really? Is there really any difference between being kept awake all night by a phone's constant ringing, and this sick psychological warfare. The arrival of the BART train provides a few minutes of distraction before the train of thought inexorably arrives back at the phone.

You look back to the morning, arriving at work to be faced by the usual happy flashing message light, unsettling your entire day by having to delete the dozen or so messages of TV noise. "I could", you begin to think, "just erase all my messages each morning, without listening to even one of them...". Then you remember that there was an important real message in the midst of the junk the other day, so that won't work.

You idly wish for Caller-ID at work, but realize that it's probably rather expensive for the whole office to have Caller-ID, and why would they need it? We shouldn't be blocking calls, we're a service company, we live for our clients. Not answering the phone could be considered a capitol offense if you missed an important call and lost business.

The train emerges from the transbay tunnel, the mild popping of your ears is a minor annoyance but is soon forgotten. Hmm, forgotten. Wouldn't that be nice? A whole week in which you didn't have to think about this.. a month.. a year.. a lifetime. You smile, and look around the train. Nobody's looking at you, everyone is busy digesting their days, weeks, or are engrossed in today's paper or yesterday's best-selling novel.

Opening your bag you fish out some music and drown out the uncertainty of your subconscious for the rest of the journey home.


It's later, you're home and sit down in front of the screen and open a window onto your mail server. A jolly You have new mail. message scrolls by. For a moment you're mildly excited, you wonder which of your friends has been nice, but no.. It's her again. Of course, you don't actually KNOW who it is, because the sender is always fake, but the headers give away the sender's rough identity, it's her alright. You glance at the header before filing it with the hundreds of similar mails.. More accusations, more lies, more stress.

Inside your mind, the clouds roll in again, another stormy night. No inner peace.  []


Copyright Daniel Stephens, 1998 - All Rights Reserved
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