The 3 am phone call is a hot topic in the news lately, with the political ads and who we'd want answering the phone in the middle of the night for some major world crisis.
Now, we know that crises don't always happen in the middle of the night and bad news doesn't always come by phone (remember, President Bush was reading to a classroom when he got the whisper in his ear about the 9-11 tragedy). But we also know the implication of the ads: when the phone rings at 3 am, it could never be good news.
I've fielded plenty of middle of the night phone calls over the years. They are usually from friends who are going through some tough times and can't sleep. They call me because they figure at 3 am, they wouldn't be disturbing me.
One of the things I love best about freelancing is that I can live by my natural body clock. I am a night owl. My body tends to wake up around 10 am, without fail. Always has. If I have to get up early, I'm usually pretty useless until 10.
So when my phone rings at 7 or 8 am, that's my 3 am, middle of the night, jolt me out of a sound sleep call. That's what happened to me this morning, only this time it was a work call. Had I known the person was calling, I would have been awake and prepared. I had no idea the call was coming when it did, however. I'm sure the gentleman was surprised to hear my groggy wake-up voice.
This was the first a work call woke me, but at least once a week someone will call me before 9 and if it is someone I know socially (as opposed a reminder about my husband's doctor's appointment, even though we ask them to call him at his office), they chide me for still being asleep. I'm sure they wouldn't be so pleasant if I called them at midnight, a time when I'm wide awake and more than willing to talk.
There is a stigma attached to calling people after a certain time in the evening because of putting the children down to sleep, having some quiet family time, adults going to bed early. I have answered the phone plenty of time with the person saying, "Am I calling too late?" (If it is before 2 am, no, you aren't.)
But no one has ever asked me if they were calling too early. Instead, if they notice that they have woken me, I get, "It sure must be nice to sleep in." Except it isn't always a luxury. Because I spend so much of my day doing phone interviews or answering urgent emails, often my best writing time comes when the rest of the world has gone to bed (and no one wants to call), so I'm going to bed a hours before the rest of the world wakes.
And people wonder why I love email . . .