In Praise of Cold-Calling Your Friends

Nearly a year into the pandemic, these unexpected chats are my greatest joy

Clio Chang
Published in
4 min readFeb 17, 2021


Joan Crawford dwarfed by a giant telephone c. 1927. Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

A friend who I am very fond of but don’t necessarily keep in regular touch with recently emailed me on a bcc-ed list with the subject line, “Your Birthdays — I need em.” She was asking for people’s birthdays and mailing addresses to add to her calendar. It was a nice gesture during trying times, so I thought I’d return the favor in a way that some might describe as maniacal: I called her up out of the blue.

When my friend picked up, I explained that I was calling her in response to her email and read out my birthday — July [redacted] — and my mailing address. She told me she hated me for cold-calling her on a random weekday instead of just emailing her back, but then we had a nice chat for an hour or so. The spontaneity was thrilling. We live in the same city but in different boroughs and haven’t seen each other in over a year. While we’ve texted and messaged each other, a casual phone conversation allowed us to joke around the way that we used to do in person.

A big part of it was the unexpectedness (I called unthinkingly, without knowing if she’d pick up), which feels rare in a time when everything must be meticulously planned and considered. It felt like I had run into her at Aritzia (on Fifth Avenue and 16th) or at Sweetgreen (on Fifth Avenue and 18th) and we had said something stupid to each other like, “Fancy seeing you here, haha!” before deciding to stroll around the block together to avoid going back to the office. This is a completely fictitious scenario since neither of us has jobs, but you get what I mean.

Over the last year, I’ve taken different tactics to cope with the world-crushing loneliness that now consumes us all. I cry as I clean the snow off of my car. I cry when I water my plants. I cry when I tie up my hair in a new way. But a nice thing I also do is call my friends (and sometimes acquaintances) with no warning just to see if they want to talk. Before the pandemic, I already had an outsized fondness for phone calls for a person in their late twenties, but in the past few months, I’ve really ramped up the frequency and type of friends who I’ll call up out of nowhere.