Help! I’ve been on call since 1999 and I can’t switch off

This is not a real cry for help, just a realisation that since I got my first mobile a phone, a Nokia 2010, back in 1999 – bought in a twin pack no less, so that you had someone else to call, I’ve not felt able to switch my phone off.

I’m sure that my first mobile phone was purchased just a few months after I started my PR career and since then I’ve used it to give out emergency statements from a tuk tuk in Thailand, sandy shores in Spain and over looking the beautiful harbour in Hong Kong.

The mobile phone has enabled me to do my job from all around the world but has also meant that I don’t switch off.

The fact of the matter is, we offer a crisis communication service and that means that people need to get hold of you when they need you, not just in normal working hours, or when it is convenient,

I remember on Boxing Day leaving the cinema, The Hobbit, if you were interested, to take a call about a serious situation to do with an NHS Trust. Outside the cinema at the same time, also missing The Hobbit, was a consultant from a different NHS Trust that I also worked with on his mobile, he too could never switch off. We gave each other a rye smile as we each dealt with our situation.

One of the worst situations I’ve experienced was when the phone rang as I was walking into a church in Manchester for a christening.  The call stopped me in my tracks. It was to call me back to a site I worked with due to a very sad incident,  a truly harrowing experience for all involved. 150 media calls over two days followed – all on the trusty mobile.

Good Fridays always seemed to be the day for me to receive calls from national papers wanting the latest childhood obesity statistics or a comment on something health related, and yes, the phone was on so I could respond.

The world has changed a great deal since 1999 and I’ve moved on from that old faithful Nokia, via a Blackberry, to my trusty iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong I love holidays and taking a break, this summer holiday I’ve even promised to switch my emails off from my phone – I’ve been shown how! But arriving in a place where the signal is weak or non-existent is just the worst for me.

I know that there are other people back in the office who can deal with anything that occurs but self awareness is good thing to have and for it, it is as simple as this:

My name is Charlotte and I can’t, I just can’t switch off.


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