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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Phone-Phobia hr579

When I was a teenager, a smartphone era was still years away to come. I came from a large family that had one phone in the house, which meant a scramble for a phone call. It was usually a three-way battle: between my grandfather, my mother and me. My grandfather used to be the chairman of a local senior citizen club and make and receive lots of calls. Once his phone time began, it lasted forever. He would pull a chair from the dining table, set it in front of the phone, sit in, spread some kind of papers and start dialing. The stand where the phone sat turned into his makeshift office desk while my parents, my sister and I were eating dinner right beside it. The background music of our dinnertime was usually his telephone conversation that sounded totally unimportant and ridiculous. The minute my grandfather finished his phone time, the phone rang that would be from my grandmother on my mother’s side. She would call my mother almost every day to report her day. It would always consist in complaining about her son-in-low. After my mother finished listening to her endless nagging, it would be finally my turn. I used to chat with my friends over the phone for hours as a habit of a teenager. Although I did that so often, I have a confession to make. I hated it. I was really loath to talk over the telephone, to be honest. But as everyone knows, the phone call is a must among teenagers. If I had confessed I didn’t like the phone and asked my friends not to call me, I would have been instantly branded as a nerd. To be popular, I kept it secret and talked with my friends by acting happy but weeping inside. I forced myself to be funny and a class clown at school although my true self didn’t want to. At least when I was at home, I wanted to return to be myself who liked to be silent and alone. But the phone call would intrude into my home and destroy my peace. I cultivated my dislike for the phone during my teenage years like this. After I graduated and left home, my condition got much worse. The phone attack from my parents began when I started living alone in a small apartment in Tokyo as a musician. Since they opposed strongly about my career choice, they denied me, insulted me and cursed me over the phone. The ring became the most distasteful sound in the world to me. I couldn’t take it any more one day and turned off the ring. I stopped answering phone calls altogether by setting the answering machine. Then playing messages on it gradually got painful and even seeing the message lamp blinking made me sick. My dislike for the telephone had evolved into phobia by then. Besides the nasty phone calls from my parents, I sometimes got prank calls. More and more, the telephone looked an entrance to hell. To this day, I jump to the phone ring and talk into the receiver feeling ultimately tense with my hands sweating and my throat drying. Every time I see someone talking casually over the cell phone on the aisle of a supermarket, I think I’m seeing someone from other planet. The other day, I was shopping online at Amazon. When I was paying with my credit card, an error message appeared on the screen that said, “The payment was failed. Please contact your credit company”. I called the company while I was twitched with fear, my fingers were trembling and even my eyesight became blur and white. It turned out that my card had been suspended because the balance in my bank account was short. My distaste for the telephone has grown deeper…

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