"Good evening, Taylors' residence... May I ask who's calling, please?... Hold on, just a moment."
Though my father passed away four years ago last month, I can still remember so clearly the way he sounded when answering our home telephone. It's funny how certain memories -- sounds, smells -- stay with you so clearly. It's funny the things you end up missing.
My dad wasn't a stickler about many things. Going to the grocery store with Dad meant that you'd probably get to pick out a candy bar in the check out aisle. Mom was the one who made sure the trains ran on time, that my sister and I did our chores, got good grades, and dusted the baseboards when it was our turn to clean. They were a good team.
But the one thing my dad was strict about was how we talked to people. He insisted that we address grownups as Miss and Ms. and Mr. and Mrs., unless they absolutely insisted otherwise. And telephone manners were huge. "Introduce yourself!" bellowed Dad from the living room as we called our friends from the kitchen phone.
"Hello, this is Colleen Taylor calling. May I please speak to Ashley?" is a pretty embarrassing thing to say when you're 14 and trying desperately to sound cool when Ashley's cute older brother answers the phone. But house rules were house rules.
Time often helps you see that your parents were right about a lot of things you chafed against growing up. Dad's phone etiquette rules are certainly in that category for me. I've learned it's much better to err on the side of seeming too polite or too old fashioned, than to take up other people's time in an entitled way. (Programmer and writer Paul Ford had a post about politeness recently that's a good read.)
And more and more, it just rubs me the wrong way when I pick up the phone, say hello, and hear a voice I don't recognize chirp "Is Colleen there?" without introducing him or herself first.
It's a very silly, very small thing. But it's just one of those things.
"She's on the 11th date of her North American tour, with 90 or so shows to go, a number she doesn't like hearing out loud. She's both star and caller of nearly every shot, from wardrobe to the tiniest shift in backup harmonies. And being the boss, it emerges, is hard.
'I have a lot on my plate,' she says...'Things can get monotonous. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. A lot of people want things from you. But it's fine! It's called trade-offs.
You have this dream, and then the dream becomes reality, and what comes along with it is you run a company. It's the fine print of the dream that you didn't know was there.'"
-- a quip that's applicable to a lot of grownup life in general, from the more-interesting-than-you'd-think profile of Katy Perry in the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine
Interviewer: "Do you get inspired by artists now? ...A lot of new music to me, I know it makes me sound like an old head, but it just don't sound the same. It just don't feel the same."
Jay Z: "Nah, there's good music. You just gotta mine for it. I mean, before, I felt there was an abundance of it. But that's what happens with anything successful.