When may I text you?

When is it okay for me to text you?

Within every social circle I think, this dilemma is a striking one. The problem is that you have a lot of friends and people you chat with regularly or semi-regularly, and it's a perplexing matter to figure out the complex system of when you may or may not chat with people.

For example, take Claire. Claire is separated, has kids and an ex, and a job. She has to get up around 6am to get the kids ready for school, then she works from 8am-5pm and then the kids are in bed by 8pm and she's in bed by usually 9:30-10:30pm. When, you might be interested to know, is it a good time to text Claire? Well, she's pretty chatty from the time she gets up until around 7, then you won't hear back from her until at least 9am when she gets a break at work. Don't bother texting her after 10pm though, she's not going to reply for close to ten hours. Claire's at least calm about it though. If you think about a funny YouTube video to send her at 11:30pm, she'll "lol" in the morning without ripping your head off. Laurie isn't quite so easy to work with.

In Laurie's defense, Laurie works weird hours, and 7 days a week. Thursday through Sunday she works from noon until 10pm, and then Monday through Wednesday she works from 9am until 9pm. She really really really needs a lot of sleep, and so if you ever screw up and text her between the hours of 11pm and 11am during on Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday you will hear about it in a very long pissy reply that I'm sure she has on macros. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday of course, you can text a little earlier but frankly I get so gunshy I don't risk it.

As you might surmise, all names have been changed. Or, that is to say, some names have been changed and some have been swapped and others left totally the same but the end result is that the specific calling restrictions to which I reside are properly documented

"Wait", I hear you ask, "can't you just text her at anytime and she gets back to you when she can?" Yes, you'd think so, but we'll get to that, so file it in the back of the brain for now.

Jessica used to be cool about texting times, but now she's got a new job as a waitress so she absolutely doesn't want any texts before around 11am because she has to work late. Angela needs a lot of sleep so even though her work hours are fairly standard, anytime after about 8:30 is totally verboten. Rita is on call, and whenever she's at work she ignores all texts and then continues to ignore them when she's home, so some mornings you'll say hello and a couple hours later she'll reply but then other times if you text hello she never replies, and three days later still won't reply: but if she's off that day she'll reply to that hello. If you want to text Jamie you'd better not do it while she's napping in between split shifts, on the days that she has split shifts that is. And those are the schedules I'm familiar with: a quick search of my phone finds that Adrienne, Dawn, Lucy, Sarah, Stacey, and Wendy have all at one point used the phrase "don't text" at specific times of the day and I think once upon a time I might have known why.

Are you completely confused yet? Good because I hate being confused alone. This is a complete hodge-podgey mess, and I'm pretty sure that anybody with a decent number of female acquaintances is forced to live under a similar regime as I do. And yes, you'll notice that all of the above listed individuals are girls, and no that isn't just a really weird coincidence. I think it's related to the difference between men and women when it comes to texting.

Men get it. Women don't.

Okay I admit that's a pretty handy phrase to keep around for a lot of purposes. In general, women use communication more than men, and men understand what the hell we invented it for in the first place. (Possibly related: men are always inventing them). In the case of texting, the beauty about the service is that (as those of you who read the note above are already aware) you can send somebody a message and they can read it or indeed respond to it any time in the future they find it convenient. That's the point of text: I'm taking a few seconds to say something to you, then when you have a few seconds you can say it back to me.

Women tend not to get that, and as the accompanying graph shows they hilariously are hypocritical when applying this logic to themselves. But the problem is twofold: for one, you saw that the above rules fall into two general categories:
1. Times when she's busy and she doesn't want me to text because otherwise she's got a message that she can't get back to right away despite this being the exact reason for texting
2. Times when she's asleep and doesn't want me to text because it would cause her phone to make a noise which may/will wake her up and ruin her night.

The solution to (1), of course, is going to be quite complicated mostly because this isn't a problem to begin with. It's a feature, not a bug, so I'm unclear why women can't get that (excepting the obvious, of course, that they're all crazy).

The solution to (2) is meanwhile rather simple and all but the most crazy of women§ can solve this problem with little effort whatsoever. It's really an unbelievable solution to the problem of your phone making noise that may wake you up in the middle of the night: make it so it doesn't make noise! Seriously, how hard was this to come up with? There are even multiple options. You can turn the damned thing right off. No, seriously, it lets you do that. If that's too much insanity for you then you can enable Airplane Mode which keeps it from receiving calls and texts and data but can still be used as an alarm clock. This is my preferred method. Finally, there's the option to turn sound off entirely. Put the phone on mute and it will collect text messages and emails and Facebook notifications and won't bother you at all. It's so simple that I'm almost (but not really) shocked women haven't come up with it.

§ And oh Lord, there are exceptions, let me tell you.

No, stop. Why are we even still talking about this? I've just told you the answer: turn the noisy thing off. Hell, it's not just a solution that works at night: Martok doesn't turn the volume on his cellphone on ever. Whenever you want to call him you either dial his landline or hope that he's looking at the screen at the exact moment you dial. (In practice, that last method is surprisingly effective). If he's not looking at his phone, you won't reach him with a call but he can always phone you back. Or you can just text him and wait for the reply like a sane human being.

I've actually been doing the same quite often, leaving my phone on silent more than it's on non-silent. There's never really that urgent a need to get a hold of me right now. Maybe it's growing up in the age before cellphones that gives me this sensible bit of perspective: it used to be when I went to the store or spent a week in Vancouver there really was no way to get a hold of me, and somehow life goes on. Anybody who's upset that I am sending a text message about what I'm watching on YouTube when she wants to be sleeping and only interrupted by "important" messages is vastly overestimating their importance.

In the § note above I mentioned specific exceptions to the "can't object to turning the ringer off" rule, and every one of them I can think of is guilty of overestimating their importance by at least an order of magnitude or seven. These typically are some of the most dangerous women out there: mothers.

I've worked in offices with mothers who believe that their phones must be on full volume with their horrible Taylor Swift ringtones blaring in the belief that in the event of an emergency they must be reachable within microseconds. They of course leave their phone behind when away from their desk, causing everybody else to hear a text that's probably just Cindy sending a photo of the Vietnamese sub she just ate. These helicopter-parenting nutters are convinced that bad things that only they can solve are orbiting their children at all times. Even when their children live with them they claim to need to have their cellphone ringers on all night long -- and therefore, remember, precluding me from texting them -- for "emergencies".

So please, please, if you know of somebody who insists on leaving her cellphone on all night long at full volume, and therefore puts silly restrictions on your life and how you send them messages that were designed to be replied to at her convenience please tell her to smarten up and send her this post.

You never know, you might be teaching my Nancy and Claire and Rita a lesson. God knows I'm having no luck.