Back in those days when I had a job with this french oil company, I sat in an office with 3 other slaves and our main job was to co-ordinate the price market at their local petrol stations here in Germany. That was at the end of the last century, right after my apprenticeship.
Since all gas prices are indicated on a stand outside next to the street, price marketing is a sensitive business and our telephones rang all day long, from 7a.m. just until 8p.m. and sometimes even earlier and also later than that. Alas, also during the weekends.
Imagine being woken up by a mobile phone as early as 6 a.m. just to hear the voice of an angry petrol station owner who tells you that the competition on the other side of the street in this and that city has gone down with his pricing and asks you for a permission to reduce his price by 1 cent as well… How am I supposed to know if he is telling me the truth, let alone the fact that it takes some time to even understand his strange dialect of what’s supposed to be Gaammaaaan with which he prattles into the phone? I think you get the point…

So, the job being somewhat 24/7/365-exploitive and on the other hand turning me into a bag of nerves, I am still reminded of this job whenever a telephone rings. Well, I am over it by now, but there are some SIEMENS mobile phone ringtones that I just can’t stand and which remind me of this well-paid job (the incentive, most definitely, they really paid good money – but what’s all the pesa for a 25year old slave back then when you just can’t buy time/freedom/uhuru/leisure time to relax?).

"how I always answer my phone" (

Mobile phones have this wonderful advantage of containing something known as "on/off"-button. Since I chose to become a student again, and since I am NOT doing business again where the refusal to pick up a phone equals lost business, I nowadays sometimes choose to switch off my phone or just let it ring. Why? BECAUSE I CAN! THAT’S WHY!
And yes, there’s no Caller Identity Display (CID/CLIP) on my fixed line phone so it’s always like playing the lottery whenever I pick up the phone. It could be my relas with an important message, friends, job-offers, enemies (?), dumb companies trying to sell me some bogus deals or maybe even the lottery, telling me I’ve won (well, they have my e-mail so wtf… ;-). That is, according to Murphy’s Law, most of my friends try to reach me whenever I am busy³, trying to concentrate on work/ on something really important. That just isn’t fair!

There’s this article I read about Esther Dyson some years ago in which she is quoted as having said something like: "I know (that) I’ve completly recovered from working on monday mornings when I realise that I forgot the PINumber on my mobile phone."
Fortunately, it’s not yet that serious.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

4 thoughts on “simumania”

  1. “That is, according to Murphy’s Law, most of my friends try to reach me whenever I am busy³, trying to concentrate on work/ on something really important. That just isn’t fair”

    Maybe you should not judge harshly those who call when you are too busy to pick up for they may not have a clue that you are busy unless they are right there with you and can see that you are very busy and in any case when you “unfortunately pick up the phone from the last person you want to hear from” politely explain you cannot talk right now.

    Alternatively, get different ring tones for different friends , family and acquitances, that way then you know which phone call to pick up. You never know what phone call is carrying what message and you might wish you picked it up at the right time…. trust me I know that first hand (November 24, 2005).

  2. @Irena:
    1. “unfortunately pick up the phone from the last person you want to hear from” – i never said that!
    2. “Maybe you should not judge harshly those who call when you are too busy to pick up for they may not have a clue that you are busy” – I don’t judge anyone on this. All I am saying is that I don’t necessarily pick up the phone whenever it rings because I don’t want to be a slave of the system. Imagine my sister – whenever her phone rings she rushes through the whole house just to pick it up. As if there’s something important to miss. I say: if it is THAT important, ppl can leave a message or send an SMS in case i don’t answer the call. Also, sometimes I am sitting here and nothing happens and then another day I am busy and three people are coming over plus 1-2 on both phones. That’s the irony I was trying to point out with Murphy’s Law.
    3. There’s no ringtone feature on my cordless phone.

    You see, sometimes I get a call by stupid companies that are trying to sell me suscriptions for dumb magazines or also phone companies, trying to sell different phone contracts. I am not interested in that and I’ve meanwhile learnt to tell them right after their introduction that I am not interested in any deals.
    There’s this friend of mine who used to sit on his phone and talk for at least 2 hours every day (with his lads) – I couldn’t do that. Not that I have nothing to talk about but I am so busy with my own life and world that – as much as I like communicating with others – I feel like I am neglecting my duties. On top of all that, this job I’ve written about killed my motivation for any other future call-centre-job(s).

  3. Juergen: I actually understand what you are saying because after hearing my work phone ring all day, the last thing I want to hear is a phone ringing . I too do not jump and stop what I’m doing to pick up a phone call (although mine prolly does not ring as much as yours:-) .Thank God in the US ,we do not get those marketing calls thank to a bill passed by Congress “National Do-Not-Call Registry” see
    Again, as much as a phone is a menace but at times I miss people calling me when it goes so silent. All the same I understand your feelings and I wish they made a prompter on the phones that says “DO NOT DISTURB” that would be nice ama:-)? Anyway by the end of the day “DO YOU…(a slang for take care of your business first).

    Nice post by the way:-)

  4. Thanks for bringing the theme up- nowadays it is so easy to reach everyone that expectations run high when it comes to availability- privacy seems to be turning into a priceless good- I agree with Mr. Kikuyumoja: personally I prefer quality to quantity.

    After long working hours I often need time for myself, sort things out. If a friend of mine is in need of help I am the first to be there, but they know its nothing to do with them if I don’t pick up the phone or call them daily.
    Have a chat just for fun- of course, I love that, but for a satisfying contact I need a certain state of mind. I don’t want to waste anyones time.

    New acquaintances are often irritated by my reaction (expectations colliding) until they realise it has nothing to do with them personally- if you do a lot for others you just need time to recuperate.

    How people reach me if they want to chat or need help? They just write a short message, e-mail etc- and if it is important or I have enough time or the energy to spend quality time I can always call back….Plus I can be sure it’s a friend peeping in and not some kind of a salesman. What do I do if I feel like a chat or need help? Well, if I don’t reach them via phone I leave a message. Simple.Easy. No stress.

    the two sides to technology- I prefer being less intrusive.

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