women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Call & Response

"If you're feeling sad and lonely, there's a service I can render.
Tell the one who loves you only; I can be so warm and tender.
Call me! Don't be afraid; you can call me. Maybe it's late, but just call me.
Tell me, and I'll be around..."

- Shirley Basie, Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark (Can't seem to find the writer, just the many performers - Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Anybody?)

This topic has been running around in my head for a while now.

(Yes, I have many, many ideas running amok up there - explains a lot, doesn't it?)

Ever since Grateful Dad (new moniker for Baby Boy, since he is now a father and has always been a Deadhead.) rang me up on Saturday morning, the first weekend after New Year's.

Seems he was out of breast milk, Mom was working, and I had 12 ozs. in the freezer, left over from our three day, two night babysitting marathon over the New Year. Grandma to the rescue.

As I sat waiting for the drop off, in the parking lot of a Walmart, halfway between our domicile and his, it occurred to me:

Some calls just can't wait.

It isn't just a matter of need (food, rest, diaper change) but also want (love, amusement, companionship.) Taking care of a baby has got to be the most responsive thing in the world. They won't wait on anything.

As DH observed, "He wants what he wants, and he wants it NOW!"

One of Conner's favorite games right now is "talking" with us. We put our faces close to his and make hooting sounds, like an elongated "O-o-o-o-h ." His face lights up, and he wriggles with joy, as he answers with unintelligible, but thoroughly delightful baby babble.

We call. He responds.

Call and response has a time honored place in the worship practices of this country. From staid Episcopalians, reciting their psalms, to the joyous interaction of a gospel choir with their congregation's fervent "Amen"s and "Hallelujah"s. The purposeful back and forth motion echoes the rhythms of a life lived in harmony with our world and it's creator.

We are called upon multiple times each day, by family, by co-workers, by friends, by God. We are called by phone, email, text message, and snail mail. We are bombarded by messages all day long.

If we turn to playing video or computer games, or even (how old fashioned!) card or board games, we respond to the play of others, or we quickly lose.

If we turn on the television or radio, seeking respite, we are the unwilling recipients of dozens of commercial messages, to which (they hope) we respond.

Even if we go to the movies, we must respond, when our companion turns to us in the aisle, as we shuffle towards the exit, leftover popcorn in hand. "How did you like the movie?"

And what is Google, after all, if not a call (find me this!) and response (Oh, there it is!)?

Every day, in every way, we are called.

And every day, we must respond, or risk isolation and irrelevance.

"You don't listen to me." is a common complaint, from our children, our spouses, our bosses, ourselves.

But, what we are really saying is, "You don't respond to me."

I get, on average, between fifty and seventy-five emails a day. Not counting ads & spam.

I also get five to ten private messages on Ravelry and several forum responses. Then, there are the comments y'all leave on this blog.

And I read every one of them - well, not the ads & spam, but all the rest...

I try to respond in a timely manner, but sometimes, things get in the way. The largest obstacle is the dreaded "no reply" tag on comments. Is that annoying or what?

Instead of simply tapping the reply button, we have to go on line to Blogger's personal profile, from there to the reader's individual blog, and leave a response in the comments. Of course everyone else wonders who this nutbag is, what she is talking about, and why she can't seem to stay on topic... Frustratingly indirect.

And sometimes, there is no personal blog, only group blogs. Then we're really stuck.

So, I often don't respond, though I always wish I did.

And I will admit to taking more time to respond to some calls than others. If you are asking a question that requires some consideration, or research, or delving into the underbelly of a pattern for the solution to a problem you are having, I may pass you by on the first glance, until I have more time and energy (and am not working through one of those where-did-I-go-wrong? moments that are such a big part of the design process.)

PayPal has just begun offering direct download service. I have not yet researched the cost of this feature. Right now, I fill orders manually, through email attachment. This is time consuming for me and usually entails a wait from you.

But I must admit, in this often impersonal world of voice mail, and spam, and automated response, there is something about the direct interaction that resonates within me. And I am loathe to lose it.

Putting ourselves out there means taking calls. It means helping. It means listening. It means joining the first response team...

Whether we are:

  • Filling an order...
  • Figuring out where that extra stitch came from on row seventeen...
  • Agreeing with the woman who is venting in the forums about her yarn fraying and virtually patting her hand, saying, "I'm with you, sister"...
  • Rescuing the passengers on a downed airliner from the frozen Hudson river...
  • Learning to cope with a failing economy...
  • Heeding the Salvation Army's ringing bell (Even in this economy, or perhaps because of this economy, they exceeded their fundraising goal - Praise God!)
  • Or making an unexpected milk run at eight o clock on a cold Saturday morning.

We are called.

How will we respond?


Anonymous said...

Good thoughful, insightful writing. Love your patterns too.

Anonymous said...

"Call Me" lyrics by Tony Hatch in 1965 :-)

FiberRachel said...

Well, if you are asking me, if I want a pattern, I want it NOW, so the direct download has it's appeal in that sense, and I have had some experience in using it in buying from other designers, it works a treat. Also take into account that we really prefer you working on your designs and getting the backlog of wonderful ideas out in the open, so if it frees up time for you, I say go for it!!

momsue84 said...

I echo those sentiments. Anything that will get you back to cranking out those gorgeous patterns instead of answering a call is fine by me. I realize some calls need a response. However, if PP can assist you, let it. I would happy to pay a little extra for the pattern just to have that service.

Carla Willingham said...

Thank you. This line of thought brought tears to my eyes. I think you've hit on a wonderful train of thought!!! And Thank YOu for the wonderful patterns!!!
:D Carla

Danielle said...

Thank you for such a beautiful reminder of why we do the things we do. Something as simple as being the voice to answer the phone at work quickly and joyfully adds so much to lives of others. Its important and I often forget that in many areas of my life when I bogged down by all the things that have to be done.

Donna Lee said...

I agree that the download feature is a good one. But I like the idea of personal service. I spend my days as a social worker providing service and I know how important that response is.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if it was the first recording but Chris Montez recorded it in 1966.

La Cabeza Grande said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post. Hi! Remember me?

Regarding the instant download, I prefer it to waiting for am email from the designer. I'm certain that you can strike a balance between both pattern delivery *and* personal service.

Laura said...

Thanks for the wonderful, thoughtful post. It makes me stop and wonder.

I like your personal service with your patterns.