“I think I’ll go have me a pop,” my first boss used to say everyday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. That’s break time here. A lot has changed since I first heard those words in 1978, but one thing hasn’t changed. I still take a 15-minute break at 10 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day. However, nowadays, as long as the weather cooperates, I walk outside. It is refreshing. It limbers me up. And best of all, it takes me away from my phone.
Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t function without a telephone. Iola is not exactly the epicenter of the world of numismatics, so a telephone is an indispensible part of my daily routine. But it is not the only part.
I am not one of those people who has a telephone growing out of his ear no matter what time of the day it is, or no matter I am doing. I can wait. I need to wait. I need to let my mind drift a while. I like the sound of birds, the rustle of the wind blowing across the grass, the flag snapping at the flagpole as I pass by and myriad other small-town sounds. It helps me think.
The walk also teaches. Being gone for those two breaks has taught me that many persons in the wider world wait to place telephone calls virtually on the hour. I come back to my desk after some breaks and I have three or four messages waiting.
I know some self-help books recommend that you set aside specific times in a business routine to place phone calls. I don’t follow that advice. I get too many calls to delay. I return them as fast as I become aware of them for the most part. I learned long ago that news doesn’t wait – at least not for long.
Another thing I have observed is that there are many more calls to me on Wednesday afternoon than just about any other time during the week from persons who want to know how to read a price guide, find out what their new find is worth, or just generally ask a question that has popped into their heads. What the attraction is to Wednesday, I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t mean I get no calls on other days – far from it. But the concentration is obvious.
Another Wednesday phenomenon is something that I note after I return from a long meeting or a business trip and listen to my voicemail. There are a lot of hang-ups. I guess the callers can’t wait to find out about whatever is on their minds. If I am not immediately available, they have to try somebody else.
There are some calls that come in before business hours start or after business hours have ended. In both instances you can’t count on people still being at their desks. I have listened as the phone rings first on one desk and then the next, moving about the room until it reaches me. So it all evens out. I am here when others are not.
The point of this column is twofold. It is not to brag about how I evade phone calls, but rather it is an opportunity for me to let readers know that if they don’t reach me the first time, they might have been trying while I was out walking around on break, or they might be colliding with other on-the-hour phone callers. If either is the case, leave me a voicemail message. Leave me a message no matter what time you call. Don’t just hang up. I appreciate the messages. I do return phone calls.
It is probably true that e-mail has made the telephone less important. After all, you can send me an e-mail whether I am outside at 10 in the morning, or sound asleep at 2 a.m. I can return the favor by replying any time I can get to it. However, there are just some things that are better handled by telephone.
What those are I leave in the hands of my readers to decide. That’s the fun part of my job because every day is a new adventure. I never know who will be on the other end of a telephone call and what important information I might be learning for the first time.
Each week readers can judge the results. Many phone calls usually mean a great deal of news. After my break, I am ready for them.
I will bet you can guess when this column was written. You’re right. I did it right after I came in from a break-time walk. Soon enough, though, winter will keep me closer to the phone.