Best means of contacting me in general

I keep running into situations where various of my friends don't know this, so figured I should post about it:

My cell phone is almost always the fastest way to reach me to these days.

I essentially don't use my land line any more. There are only four reasons I still have one:

  • So guests who don't have their own cell phones (or don't get good reception here) can make and receive calls.
  • So I can give the land-line number to companies I don't want to take calls from.
  • Because I gather that land lines are more likely to remain usable than cell phones during a disaster or other large-scale emergency.
  • Once in a while my cell phone runs out of battery or loses signal, and it's nice to have a backup phone method available.

But in general, all of my telephone use is on my cell phone. Also, I have the cell phone with me almost all the time. And I'm very consistent about turning it off when I go to sleep, so there's never any need to worry about waking me up by calling.

(Once every few months I somehow manage to forget my cell phone when I leave the house, giving me a day of disorientation and disconnection-feeling. But even on those days, calling my land-line won't reach me any faster, 'cause I'm not at home.)

If you have both my numbers, it's up to you whether to even keep my land-line number around. It could come in handy on some rare occasions; but if having it in your address book is likely to make you think it's my preferred number, then you should probably remove it.

Text messages are also a good and fast way to reach me. I've found them occasionally unreliable--sometimes they just disappear into the ether, or take hours to get delivered--so for really time-sensitive situations, voice calls are better. But if you don't want to have to actually talk with me, but do want to have a high likelihood of reaching me quickly, text messages are good.

Email is sort of good. I spend a whole lot of my day sitting at a computer, and I check email compulsively. However, I only check home email about once a day during work days, sometimes not even that, and I don't generally give out my work email address (I want to maintain a strong separation, keeping work email for only work-related stuff); so if you need to reach me quickly (like to change plans for that evening), email is not a good way to do it.

Also, I am often very very flakey about responding to email. Sometimes it takes me weeks, sometimes even months, and sometimes I fail to do it at all. This is a personality flaw in me, and I'm aware of the problems that it causes, but I persist in this bad habit and seem unlikely to change it anytime soon. I even failed to reply to my grandmother's emails, which I felt horribly guilty about, especially when she would say things like "Oh, I guess you don't use email much." All I can say is that if there's something that urgently needs my attention in an email, and I don't reply to it, you should either ping me again (I tend to be very interrupt-driven) or call me on the voice-o-phone. Also, note that email is not a reliable system; emails can and do regularly just disappear, without warning or notice. So sending something to me, or anyone, in email is no guarantee that they'll see it.

IM would be good if I ever used it. I use it all the time for work, where it's great, but I haven't yet been able to bring myself to get in the habit of using it at home.

I don't have a fax number, and wouldn't use it if I did; I'm philosophically opposed to faxes.

I suppose there's also papermail, or showing up at my doorstep, or accosting me on the street. But really, my cell phone is--99+% of the time--the best way to reach me.

2 Responses to “Best means of contacting me in general”

  1. Zed

    I’d suggest one more justification of a land-line: 911 that doesn’t go to the state police (as well as 911 that’s available regardless of the state of your cellphone, but that’s covered by your #4.)

    While I have Berkeley’s 911-equivalent phone number in my cellphone, this is a case in which I like being belts-and-suspenders.

  2. Jed

    Yes, very good point, especially since I live right near a freeway and so 911 from my cell phone would go straight to the CHP. Which may have been a factor in the June murders next door to my place–one of the victims called 911 from a cell phone, but for various reasons the call didn’t get routed to Mountain View in time. 🙁


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