Service of What to Do With Tidbits of Time

August 10th, 2015

Categories: Pet Peeves, Power

I listed 23 pet peeves in two posts four and five years ago and have no idea why I left out this one because it has driven me nuts since my first job out of college—if not before.

Say I have an appointment to speak with someone at 3:00 pm. I call and they say, “Can you call me in 20 minutes?” I reply “Yes,” if it works, and quickly hang up as I figure they are on the other phone, on deadline or that something’s come up that prevents them from keeping our appointment.

I’ve always wished that the person who is moving the time would say, “I’ll call you back in 20 minutes—that OK?”

But they never do. I know why: Power.

In addition to messing up my schedule, the person has pinched this 20—or whatever number of–minutes from me because I can’t lose myself in another project. I know myself. I’ll look up and an hour may have elapsed.

Am I alone at feeling irritated?

What kinds of projects do you start when you only have a tidbit of time? Under what circumstances do you tell the other person, “Could you call me in 20?” or do you always say that?

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7 Responses to “Service of What to Do With Tidbits of Time”

  1. ASK Said:

    This has never happened to me…but if it did, I would probably file my nails or ask them to call me back when they have finished whatever they are doing.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have always suspected it happens to me because of what I do: As a PR person I am always asking for things: for an interview on behalf of a client; for information; for coverage of a client’s new product or special event; to follow up on a proposal in hopes of new business are just some examples.

    If I were a banker selling money; an HR person with jobs to fill or the manufacturer of a $12,000 handbag with a four month waiting list, I could be the one to say “Call me in 20 minutes.”

  3. ASK Said:

    You betcha! But, for me, the banker would have to be “giving away” money!

  4. rnd Said:

    Being asked to call back is not half so bad as having to “Press one, press two.” At least you got to speak to a human being! It has gotten to the point now that I think if you dissected my liver, you wouldn’t find Cirrhosis rather a bunch of digits.

    Speaking of dissecting, the main character who asks me to call him back now is my doctor, and I cannot blame him. The insurance companies make him spend ten minutes with a patient, maximum, whereas he used to have as long as he needed to get his job done.

    To answer your question, I don’t recall ever telling someone to call me back. Its possible, if I was trying to avoid talking to him or her, but it is more likely I said I’ll call you back.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There’s a website,, that provides phone numbers that put you in closer contact with a human voice rather than a “press one, press two,” situation. I think I learned about it from someone who commented on an earlier post.

    I wouldn’t stress [unless I was on deadline to give information to media] if the person said, “Call me tomorrow at 2” or “Call me this afternoon at 5” giving me an hour or more. But a few minutes combined with my responsibility to make the call when I don’t even know if the person will be free then, is what drives me nuts.

    I understand a doctor might have a patient in his office when I call or an emergency on another telephone line. The people I am speaking about don’t have such emergencies. Also, a doctor might say, “Call after 2 to get test results.” I don’t have a specific appointment. And one of my doctors does call me back. It’s amazing.

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    Much depends on the importance of the call back. One may also be able to work around that person, who may have a legitimate reason to beg off, Emergencies and/or tasks considered more important than ones own arise.

    “May I call you back in ten?” is a frequent occurrence in the work place, so one way to handle these inconveniences is to learn to roll with the punches. Getting “peeved” does nothing to enhance the situation, does nasty things to the blood pressure, which may lead to a shortened stay on the planet!

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If four people in all the years offered to call ME back in 10 I’d be elated. I doubt if that many ever have. The onus is on me which means I’m on the hot seat while they go about their business. I don’t question that something more important came up either, just that it is always my responsibility to keep my eye on the clock which distracts me from a million other things on various plates.

    I can’t do anything about the situation which no doubt is my major gripe: I no longer have control of my time. That is why it irritates me even if such a reaction is bad for my health.

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