I am unavailable on phone because I'm minding my manners: Superna Motwane

Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:54am IST | Agency: DNA

I will start this week’s column by apologising to my friends, relatives and people in PR. Although I currently have two phone numbers, two WhatsApp accounts and two BBM accounts, apparently, I am still extremely hard to reach. I’m told I never answer my phone and am often compared to ‘the Prime Minister’ in a reference of “the Prime Minister is easier to reach!” In my defence, he has an army of people to be reached via, and I, a mere mortal, am just me.

No, this is not about me ‘acting smart’, this is a genuine apology, and through this apology, I hope you realise that all I’m doing here is simply minding my manners.

Dear Mum, Dad, sis, bro, mom-in-law, cousin sister, cousin brother and bua, The reason I do not answer your phone at odd hours is usually because I’m genuinely busy. I know you’re rolling your eyes in your head and thinking who can be that busy...

Well picture this: I’m at the office of an international luxury brand whose principals are down from Europe. We’re in the middle of deep discussions and my phone rings. I see one of the above people’s name flashing on my screen. I say, “Excuse me,” although I realise what I’m doing is being terribly rude. “I’m in a meeting,” I practically whisper, “Anything urgent?” “Not really…” comes the casual reply. Impatiently, I ask again, “Anything urgent?” (read: health, accident, etc). “No, not really” (count two). “Just call me later.” And the phone is hung up.

Understand now, the rest of my meeting has kind of taken a downturn as something in my head is ticking and nagging me about calling back to find out what it was that was ‘not really’ urgent. And yet again, I promise myself to stop taking these calls. “Let them SMS me,” I tell myself. 

Dear long lost friend, I haven’t spoken to you in a while although (I promise) I think of you often, because I am busy. Who the hell do I think I am? Well picture this: I’ve just come home from work, exchanged my heels for FitFlops and jacket for a tee in an effort to now be a mom. My make-up’s fading, hair in a knot and I’m in the car taking the kids to the pool. I remember an email I haven’t finished, a column still pending (wink wink!) and my phone rings. It is you. And I want to take the call and gossip about nothing and chat about everything. I want girl talk. But my children exchange looks and remind me of my current nickname — ‘phone mum’. Some days, I ignore that with a laugh and take the call anyway. Some days, I am ridden with guilt and I want to just be with them. I miss the call.

Dear PR agent, you are very important to me. But unless we are very close (and if we were you would know to SMS me instead of call) please do SMS first. If I take your call and you start reading out your list of clients to me on the phone or giving me specifics on a forthcoming event, chances are, I will hang up. Respect me please. And do not call asking me what I do. We live in the age of Google… come on!

And finally, dear husband, Thanks for barely calling me during the day (now I’m rolling my eyes)! Thanks for sending me loads and loads of SMSs and emails instead. Thanks for following your missed calls with, “Nothing urgent. Call whenever.” I truly appreciate it.

I am unavailable and not very prompt because I’m minding my manners when at work, minding my children when at home and enjoying good company when with friends. But I promise you — I’m always a phone call away! Be mindful with your phone etiquette in your high-flying world. Like I say, it’s easy to buy the good life, but to live it, you have to know the way to do it right!


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