Dial A for Anxiety — When a Stranger Asks to Use Your Phone

Dial A for Anxiety — When a Stranger Asks to Use Your Phone

By Dana Jerman

“Oh, hello there…”

If you’re like me and not a germaphobe, when a stranger asks to use your phone, say yes.

Here’s how, based on personal protocol that has worked in the past:

  • It helps if you’re in a public space, so do your best to move to one.

  • Take the number.

  • Dial and wait for it to ring. Then hand it to the caller.

  • Have them either sit with you, or be okay with you standing very close. Follow and interrupt if they make any move at all away from you.

A girl in the park on a beautiful day once thought it was weird that I’d asked her to sit down beside me on my big comfy beach towel to use my phone. Tough tits honey, my phone, my rules. And I’m not getting off my ass right this second so it’s better for everyone if you get on yours.

Anyhow, in any other situation that felt a little off, I might just put the phone on speaker and not turn over the handset at all…

Or simply do as many do and say no altogether.

But somehow that hurts my heart.

In the subway I’ve seen it refused. The way people respond to this question on the web is overwhelmingly to the negative. And people don’t know. They don’t care for the human interaction just then, or automatically think that someone approaching is just going to ask them for change, which is valid.

Yet even the request is somehow unbelievable. Why? Hard to believe there are still humans out there without functioning personal comm devices?

Scammy maybe? Only if you let someone do anything on your rig but make a call. Sure you could say, “It’s almost dead, sorry…” or “Limited minutes, bro.”

But what if you were in that jam?

Usually people are just trying to get ahold of someone to let them know they are okay, moving from one place to another. Not trying to steal anything, no sudden moves. They need a ride. They need help. And really, I can admire anyone for knowing more than five phone numbers off the top of their heads these days.

I could do the social experiment thing where I leave my phone at home, bring some numbers and ask, and ask… but right now, my phone works just fine and while it does, I can use it to help others. 

Anyway, I think I probably already know the answer on the other end of that line.

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