Me and the Phone
The rotary phone sat in our apartment kitchen on a low bookshelf. I would stand there with the yellow pages to the side of it, anxiety high, mom coaching me to make the call. (No google listing with business hours.) Man it made me sweat bullets!
I was a pre-teen when we moved to a house and yup...i got my very own trimline touch tone phone. It was a rust color that matched my décor, as it were. The cord was extra long so i could move around anywhere in my room to lounge while chatting...till mom or dad picked up the other line.
At 30 i got my first cell phone. They were affordable enough and i was pregnant, so it seemed prudent to have one when commuting from Berkeley to SF. On my last day of work (we were moving back to Tucson, and i was nine months pregnant) the Bay Bridge was horribly backed up (no fast pass in those days people!). I couldn't take it - like this last commute was just breaking me, knowing i would never commute again made it seem 1000 times more painful. I made my lifeline call..... Miguel, I can't do this...i can't be in this car one more minute!...i'm going to get out of the car now! He talked me off the ledge and i made it.
Today i was trying to add cell service to my tablet. I got on chat with Verizon and of course was immediately annoyed with Chat Person. YOU know the drill!!! After an hour and a half of clenched teeth, the conclusion was Chat Person was a moron. Then it happened. I got THE message from Chat Person. So sorry that you are having these issues (no buddy, you are having the issues!), please CALL 1-800-biteme. I CAN'T SPEAK!!!!!!!!!!!! I CAN'T BLOODY TALK!!!!!!!!!!!
Rage quickly evolved into tears. Reduced to feeling 'handicap', 'You can't even make a bloody phone call Sonya!'* I try not to think of myself as disabled but these little things trigger me to see myself in that light.
Here I am, challenged once again by the simple act of making a a phone call.
*Yes, i have an app on my phone and on my tablet that allow me to text to talk. They do not however, integrate directly into making a phone call or zoom or facetime etc. So its this system of having my speaker talk into my phone, it isn't that clear for the person on the receiving end. To be fair i haven't TRIED to speak to a tech support person this way yet, but come on...you know how difficult it is to talk to them NORMALLY - i'm just not up for the challenge at this point. It's hard enough for my family to understand me in this relay method with my stilted computer voice (i'm about to have some pretty big exciting news on that front however...stay tuned!). I know that laryngectomees who can speak with TEPs or electrolarynx ALSO struggle with being understood on the phone. I also have a TTS app that i can use - its a total robot voice and again, its slow texting and cumbersome if you are trying to have a more detailed conversation. All this technology and making a phone call still isn't as simple as you would think.