Ben Borgers

Hands Occupied

May 18, 2022

In the summer of 2020, I spent a lot of time calling my friends. On the phone, too — not even facetime.

I hadn’t done that before. But I just started calling different people out of the blue, and seeing whether they’d pick up.

My idea was that everybody wanted to talk to their friends while we couldn’t see each other, but that nobody wanted to be the one to make a completely unannounced phone call. So I’d be the one to do it.

It went really, really well. I feel like I strengthened a lot of friendships that summer (most of which have sadly faded again, due to… well, a lack of talking regularly on the phone).

But I almost always called people while driving around aimlessly at night, or sometimes while taking a walk.

I found that I needed something to keep my hands occupied. Otherwise, I’d inevitably find myself an hour into the conversation with my hands on my computer’s keyboard, half paying attention and giving automatic responses.

It wasn’t that I wanted to be distracted. But somehow, I couldn’t help it. When the option was there, I’d always end up drifting towards distracting myself with my computer after some time went by.

So driving was my solution. Driving was essentially an automatic activity, but it occupied my hands enough so that my brain could be fully focused.

Plus, my car was a nice sound booth for conversations. Something about hearing someone’s voice come through the speakers all around me was nice — almost like talking to someone face-to-face again.