A question of etiquette: Unpredictable schedules

Nicole - posted on 01/09/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I have a few friends who work unpredictable work schedules, and I never know when will be a good time to call them. Their schedules are so fluid that they never know when it will be a good time to call them either. They do, want to be called and I often need to call them.



One of my friends said that I should call whenever and if she’s asleep her husband will answer the phone. I called her today around 11am and woke her up. I told her I’d call her later and we could talk then. I sent her an email and she called me back five minutes later asking me what I had been calling about.





She didn't get angry that I woke her but I felt guilty for having done so.



A lot of my friends switch back and forth between regular shifts and graveyard shifts and this makes it complicated trying to keep in touch with them. A few of my friends work three jobs, and are on call, and they have kids.



Do you have friends with unpredictable, on-call schedules or schedules that are dramatically different from your own? How do you contact them? What boundaries have they set up with you?

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April - posted on 01/10/2011

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Nicole, I cannot speak for your friends, but only share my own experience. I've had people tell me, "Call me anytime", and I knew they didn't mean that. I am somewhat of an expert at reading body language and facial expressions...I am deaf and that's how I figure out the context of what people say (tone of voice obviously doesn't work for me so I had to find another way) . I know when people are just being polite, no matter how serious or how mundane the topic is...i just KNOW. It doesn't matter how small or big...I know right away when someone lies to me.

I also am genuinely wondering and not trying to be sassy...I am wondering why you are so worried about etiquette if you are confident that your friend really means what she says?

LaCi - posted on 01/09/2011

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I used to work, on call and various shifts. I just preferred people text me and I'd call them when I was free.

Krista - posted on 01/09/2011

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I have friends like that, or friends who have multiple young children, and you NEVER know when a good time is to call.

What I usually do at that point is text them and tell them to call me when they're free. If they're asleep, a text notification is less likely to wake them than a ringing phone would be. Or if they're busy, they can at least see that I'm checking in with them.

Jenn - posted on 01/09/2011

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Here's my thought - if someone worked shifts like that and needed to sleep at different times like during the day, wouldn't they turn off the ringer so that the phone wouldn't wake them up? That's what I would do anyway. So my thought is if I had a friend who worked shifts, I'd take a chance and call and if they didn't answer then I'd leave a message.

Mary - posted on 01/09/2011

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As someone who has worked night shift for years, I can say that it is difficult. Before I had a child, I simply turned the ringers off my phones before I went to bed, so anyone could call, and it wouldn't wake me. Since having her, I needed to be reachable in the event there was an issue with her. I have both a land line and cell, but since I rarely use that cell phone, most of my friends and family know better than to use it to get me...since it's always sitting in my purse in the kitchen.

I turn the ringers off now, and have the cell on in my room should my dad need to get me if he is watching the girl while I sleep. It's worked pretty well, with minimal disturbances from non-emergent calls.

Otherwise, most of my friends and family know that it is "safe" to call me any evening...if I'm home, they'll get me, and if I'm at work, I'm obviously not available to chat, and will return their message when I'm off. Email is a great thing as well...I check it regularly, and it's a good way to let me know if you need to talk.

I do have one pet peeve....a few friends will try calling around 5pm, since this is time of day when I am guaranteed to be awake (I worked 7p-7am). However, it would drive me batty, since I am either showering and getting ready for work, or in the midst of making dinner if I'm off. NOT a good time for a chat. I did try to explain to them that calling me at this time was the equivalent of me calling them at 5am, but that doesn't seem to sink in. Lots of people (particularly family) do it though, because it is a time of day when I am almost always home and awake...it's just extremely inconvenient for me. Most times, I just don't answer, let the machine get it, and decide if it's something I need to stop what I'm doing for.

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Nicole - posted on 01/10/2011

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"I also am genuinely wondering and not trying to be sassy...I am wondering why you are so worried about etiquette if you are confident that your friend really means what she says? "



I am confused because I don't understand why someone would say something in a serious conversation that they do not mean. I am worried about etiquette because I called when they said I could and ended up waking them. I am uncertain of what I should have done and what I could do in the future.



The rules I learned when I was a kid (don't call after 10pm or before 10am) don't seem to apply anymore.



I do need to call them and they do want me to call them but I do not like waking people. When I told her this, she said anytime to call was fine, and that if she was sleeping, her husband would answer the phone.



Like I said before, she wasn't angry, I just felt bad.



I don't go with the note on the door because we live far away from eachother.

April - posted on 01/10/2011

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about texting...your one friend probably doesn't like it because she probably forgets to check text messages until way later.

i also want to point out that if your friend(s) get offended if you call at the "wrong" time, then they should have been more clear with you. It wouldn't be your fault. People need to say what they really mean or else too bad!

why not go for the old fashioned note on the door?

Nicole - posted on 01/09/2011

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In the past she has said that she prefers phone calls to texts, and has complained about texting, but I would prefer to text her and have her get back to me when she is awake/not busy then risk waking her/catching her at a bad time

Stifler's - posted on 01/09/2011

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Yeah. She rings me. She knows I'm always home. We don't actually have rules about when people can call here. If we don't want to answer we don't. When you have young kids, you're usually up before 9 so I don't mind if sarah calls me at 7 or 8 and my parents used to call at like 10 LOL. The other one has Tuesday and Friday off but often gets called in anyway so I ring at lunch time and her boyfriend just tells me when she'll be back from work. Everyone else pretty much works all week or doesn't work or we will get in touch via Facebook if I/they want to do something.

[deleted account]

Our usual rule is that people should call us before 8pm or after 9pm because my son's bedtime is 8:30 and I usually spend about half an hour tucking him in (story and such). Most of my "chatting" calls take place after bedtime because I simply don't have time during the day. My friends know that and often call later at night so I turn my phone off when I got to bed. (My husband's phone stays on all the time b/c of work, so if it is an emergency they know to call him)


As for calling my friends, I call anytime I would find acceptable for them to call me. Most do as I do and turn their phone off when they sleep. Most people don't keep their phones by napping babies either, so I don't worry about that, the ringer is not loud enough to wake a baby, unless it is a "house phone" but I try not to call those unless it is an emergency and they don't answer their cell.

Sharon - posted on 01/09/2011

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I check facebook. If they have posted a status or played their fav games it'll be posted and I'll know there is a good chance they are awake. A lot of my friends will make "good night" posts. If thats the last thing on their wall, I don't call.

Texting is a good option. Because cell phones are usually banned at work, they're on silent.

Nicole - posted on 01/09/2011

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I remember being taught not to call anyone before 10am or after 10pm. This is great for some people, esp ones who work 9-5pm but for others it just doesn't work. People who work graveyard shifts want to be contacted between 2am-5am. They are awake. They sleep during the day.

My friend told me I could call anytime, and if she was asleep her husband would answer the phone. Do you really think she just said this to be polite April? If so, I don't get it.

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/09/2011

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We have an eighteen year old a fifteen year old a twelve year old and a four year old as well as the baby, so they [and there friends ] do a lot of coming and going.
I have had the sign for years and its the one thing they ALL respect!

April - posted on 01/09/2011

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Becky i have thought of putting a symbol on my door for when my son is napping...letting the family and friends know that DON'T YOU DARE RING THE DOORBELL!!! I just kind of thought that it was obvious....my people know me well enough to know when my son naps. Not many people are like Nicole and thinking about etiquette. I find it very encouraging!

Nicole - posted on 01/09/2011

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The find out their schedule the day of work and they don't use facebook but they do text.

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/09/2011

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I have a sign that i hang on my front door that say's "sleeping babies" everyone knows it actually means "knock on the door and you die" and know-one ever calls after nine.
Our kids vary in age so much they are one to eighteen.
I don't know how i would deal with your situation i guess i would text "call me when its a good time"

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No I don't and I don't use the phone (unless I have no choice). Like I said on the 'Facebook will end' thread.... messages through Facebook would be how I keep in contact w/ my friends. ;)

April - posted on 01/09/2011

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I don't call anyone unless it is of dire importance. If it does not require immediate attention, I send a text message. No one has ever set boundaries...they're too polite for that. Often times, "call me anytime" is them being nice, not because they mean that. I think the best thing for you to do would be to have your friends email their schedules as soon as they find out when they're working. That way, you could make a judgment based on something concrete.

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