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Quiet isn't peaceful

I had phone call yesterday. The topic isn’t memorable. My thoughts are somewhat more so. It was another one of those calls where the caller identified himself and then began to speak. I listened.

After five or six seconds he asked if I was still on the line.

This has been happening to me more and more. Is the quality of our phones so bad now and callers so frequently cut off that they routinely interrupt to inquire if I am still there?

I get the joke of the cellphone commercials, “Can you here me now?” But I thought we had finally cleared the hurdle of going in and out of dead zones in recent years.

Another part of me wondered if we have become so unused to silence that when it occurs, it is startling and unexpected.

People run around with their iPods and give their whole life a sound track like a TV show. There is no background music on my phone when I am on the line. If I am asked to listen, I do and it is absolutely quiet.

So are all these inquiries as to whether I am still there the result of erratic technology or the startling and apparently unexpected absence of sound as I listen?