The Hang-Up

It had been a long day and wasn’t anywhere near being over. It was about 8:30pm on Friday and I had a review paper, a presentation critique, and homework grading to finish. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, procrastination. Anyway, in the midst of my adrenaline-fueled kamikaze typing, my phone rings. What does it say?


Oh well. Silence ringer. Let it go to voicemail. Then it rings again and again it says the number is restricted. Because the second call came so quickly, I figured it was someone I knew. I pick up the phone and a very high-pitched foreign voice comes on. I immediately think it’s the wrong number. “Hello?” The person on the other end continues their gibberish. Just as I’m about to hang up, I hear giggles and immediately recognize who it is. My 12-year-old sister trying to prank me. *sigh* Seeing as how I have a mountain of work to get through, I try to get her to stop giggling and tell me what she called me for. She asks me when she can get a facebook account. When I say I almost cussed her out….

See, this isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation and it won’t be the last. She’s hardheaded and doesn’t understand it when she doesn’t get what she wants, even though she’s not spoiled. And the fact that I was already stressed with all my work made me more upset that she bothered me with this. I tried to explain that I had work to do and that we could talk later, but she wouldn’t budge. Her facebook campaign was important to her. So, I hung up.

I just hung up. No goodbye.

I’ll tell you what, it. felt. good. I would never punch my sister in the face, but if I could punch certain aspects of her personality in the face, that’s what it would feel like. To be honest though, it left a bad taste in my mouth after a while.

I’ve made a big deal about putting family over my career before. Planning on having a career as demanding as a university professor will make you think about how your family will fit into the equation. But even with that, I always knew I would be good. I wouldn’t let my family get left behind. I wouldn’t be THAT guy. Then what did I just do to my sister? Did I put her first in that case? Granted, her conversation was absolutely trivial, but she’s still a little girl who needs love and support from the older brother she doesn’t get to see or hear from often. In that instance, I didn’t put family first and I took my work frustration out on my sister. I think the two most important things that I realized is 1) I’ve got to be more mindful of how I treat my family, even when their requests are insignificant, and 2) I won’t always put my family first, no matter how much I want to believe it. I’ll have days where I ignore them, brush them off, cancel plans, and put work-related stuff above them. That side of me will rear it’s ugly head from time to time.

My sister and I spoke the next day and I apologized for hanging up on her. I wanted her to know that I thought what I did was wrong and that I could’ve handled the situation better. Then we continued our conversation from the night before (no, she doesn’t get to have a Facebook account yet). I just hope that I never put my family so  far on the back burner that they lose sight of how much I love them.



11 thoughts on “The Hang-Up

  1. I’m glad that y’all hashed that out. Dealing with family is a stress filled act but I could only imagine what it’s like dealing with a 12 yr-old. I see both sides of the story too. I’m the youngest so I’m sure I’ve annoyed my siblinga before. Find that balance between the fam and work because many don’t try.

    You should be honored that she turned to her big brother to help get her on Facebook. It’s obvious that she looks up too. Seems like you’re on the right track.

    • My sister is real over-the-top & dramatic sometimes, so I usually have to bring her back down to earth. But again, she’s a little girl so I guess that’s how she’s supposed to be. I dunno.

      She asks me every other week when she’ll be allowed to have a Facebook account, so I’ve been tired of it. She’s impatient on top of being over-the-top. But I am glad that she looks up to me like she does. Sometimes I take that for granted because I never had an older sibling to look up to.

  2. first, one of my biggest pet peeves is to be hung up on. it really gets under my skin. i find it so disrespectful.

    second, i share your same fears as i advance in my career my family may be put second. i’ve resolved to not let that happen. i remember this lab i was going to join for my post-doc wanted me to work 80+ hours a week. yet i wasn’t going to get compensated for those hours. i know in science you have to put in the work but i’m not working 80+ hours in anyone’s lab, including my own. i have a life outside of science. i refuse to be one of these old, bitter researchers who live, eat and breath science.

    • Oh trust me, for a second I didn’t even believe that I had hung up on her because I NEVER do that. It’s very disrespectful. It was one of the rare moments where I kind of lost my composure.

      Yeah, I’ve told myself that I won’t be one of those “forever in the lab” scientists. Balance will be key. Tenure is a concern though.

      • yeah with the way funding is going and professors staying longer and longer at their jobs before retiring tenure is getting harder and harder. most institutions are content with keeping you at associate professor forever. i get a headache just thinking about it. i don’t even think i want to go the academia route anymore.

  3. I totally understand where you’re coming from with this post. I’m entering a high demand profession myself, and have many of the same fears. I also have a younger sister who, bless her heart, enjoys calling at the most inopportune times with the smallest of requests. Oh teenagers. *sigh*

    Something I’m learning: putting something first doesn’t mean giving it all of your attention, all of the time, anytime it wants. It means recognizing the difference between the urgent, the important, the essential and the meh. Sometimes the meh things (like Facebook) can wait, and you can do the work that’s in front of you. I believe, though, that you wouldn’t have hung up if it was something important, and y’all are communicating so that’s awesome!

  4. “I would never punch my sister in the face, but if I could punch certain aspects of her personality in the face, that’s what it would feel like. ”

    This sentence kilt me. LOL

    But yeah, the abrupt hang-up fills me up with so much power, yo. There’s nothing much like cutting someone off effectively. Like, there is NOTHING they can really do about it. lol Not immediately anyway. Like, they can’t get their word in.. because if they call again, you can.. not answer. I guess they could text, but that ain’t the same. The damage is done. HA!

    Anyway, I loved how reflective and introspective this was. Since we’re human and all (Well, Lil Wayne is allegedly more advanced as a Martian…), it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the stress of things and not sit back and assess things effectively. Because we’re so caught up in the moment of wanting to tear your hair out…. wait… sorry. lol

    Also, I kinda hate how I “awwww’d” at the fact you won’t let your sister have a FB acct yet. That is super admirable. You make it really hard to hate you. But then you make it easy again. In fact, I bet you’re gonna make it easier with your reply to this comment. 😉

    • Maaaaan, hanging up that phone was so cathartic, but still wrong. And yeah, there’s really nothing they can do once you hang up on them lol.

      LOL @ the Wayne shots.

      Oh yeah, my sis is definitely not getting a facebook anytime soon. She’s asked me for a twitter too. I might have laughed in her face.

  5. Won’t front: I’ve hung up on my mom a couple times. She doesn’t know how to text, and she always decides she wants to talk at about 6:45-7am, when I’m trying to get dressed for work. Cousin I’ve-Never-Heard-Of is having a baby? Great. it can wait. Don’t have me get fired and move in with y’all (this works in lieu of ‘sorry I hung up on you Mom, please don’t whoop me’)

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