This is my first blog ever. I have no idea what I am doing, what I am about to say, or where all of this will lead. I want to be a writer someday. So, I write down what I think when I think of it. Sometimes it makes sense. Often times it doesn’t. That’s OK with me.
OK – so this is a strange name for a blog, I know……let me explain.
I hate voicemail. I dislike the entire process of voicemail. What was once contemplated as a convenience to people has become a nuisance to all. Well, to me anyway.
Initially it sounded like a great idea. Someone calls me, I am too busy to answer the phone or am not at home. The machine records a message for me, and I can keep up to date with all of my friends, clients, family, or work friends. A great concept indeed.
I record my message – “Hello, this is Geoff. I can’t come to the phone right now. I am currently unavailable or on another call. At the tone, please leave your name and number. I will call you back as soon as I am able”. After you have finished listening to my outgoing message, a nice lady then comes on the phone and tells you to wait for the tone to leave a message OR to press 5 to have this subscriber paged.
It seems like an innocent thing, my outgoing message. You, the caller, have heard my voice. I’ve told you that I can’t take the call, ask you to leave some basic information, and promise to call you back. Simple enough. I graduated from Florida State and this is even easy for me.
This simple process is now a part of our everyday lives. we call people, we wait for the beep, we leave messages.
So, lets break down the process and evaluate its merits and its faults..
“Hi, my name is Geoff” – OK, so i called YOU. I know who it is. You have officially wasted 4 seconds of my life.
“I can’t come to the phone right now. I am currently unavailable or on another call” – You can’t come to the phone right now? WTF? You are wearing your phone on your belt. Its sitting in that pleather case, snapped up, and hanging from your belt. What do you mean you can’t come to the phone right now? Are you really unavailable or are you just screening me (I don’t blame you for screening me, I just want you to fess up), or on another call? Are you telling me that my call isn’t important (it probably isn’t)? I am on the other end of the phone, listening to this nonsense, knowing full well that I am currently getting screened. Getting screened, and knowing you are getting screened, just sucks. Try calling anyone who works for CAA or William Morris and you will understand the Hollywood screen. They aren’t even polite about it. Its standard practice there. The assistants almost go as far as saying, “you want to talk to Michael, well he is sitting across the room from me giving me the signal to tell you he’s not here……he will have to call you back”. (we will address the Hollywood assistant in a later blog).
“At the tone please leave your name and number” – this is where it starts to get interesting. I have been interacting with voicemail since its introduction (yes, I am that old). i am well versed at how to leave a message and what is supposed to be included in it. But, each and every time I call someone (I get screened a lot, I guess) the wonderful outgoing message comes on and my friend tells me the exact steps for leaving a message.
“I will call you back as soon as I am able” – oh yeah, you just screened me….you said you can’t come to the phone. Your phone is nestled nicely into your belt holder….and you are currently unable to call me? You will call me “when you are able” says to me that you are making no commitment to return the call. You are giving me nice lip service but not promising me that you and i will ever actually speak live. You will call me back at 10pm at night when you know I am not in the office – and you will leave me a voicemail – only after you have followed the carefully thought out instructions I left for you on my outgoing message. The circle of modern day phone tag now begins…..
After I’ve listened to all of what you have to say, I am then greeted by a nice lady’s voice. She politely explains to me that I should wait for the tone to leave a message, or dial 5 to have this subscriber paged. She then says that when I am finished leaving my message to end the call by hanging up.
I have to say, this is probably the biggest insult of all. This message comes from a lady who works for the phone company (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I don’t want to get sued as a result of my first blog). She gives me, the caller, the blow by blow instructions for the second time in 60 seconds. She is also saying to me that she does not trust you to give me the proper instructions. You are not capable to providing simple and clear instructions. She feels compelled to follow you and to once again lay out the ground rules for the voice mail message I am about to leave. There is no way to stop her. No one makes the choice to add her on to the end of their message. She just comes in and closes it out. She arbitrarily chooses the #5 if I want page you. Page you? what is this, 1987? Who the hell pages anyone these days?
My new lady friend then tells me that when i am finished with my message that I should just hang up. This is a brand new concept to me and inevitably catches me off guard every time she says it. Who thinks to hang up when they are finished? She is a true genius.
OK – so after I’ve been through all of this, I have completely forgotten who I have called and the reason I’ve called. I want to hang up but I can’t. I wait until the beep ends and just like Pavlov’s dog, the beep makes me salivate, and then I jump into my voicemail message. I act as if I totally buy your story and I leave you a message something like, “what’s up dude (only because I have totally forgotten who I have called)? It’s me (just to leave YOU guessing a little bit). I know that you are a busy person but I really need to talk to you. If possible, take that phone out of its holster, check your messages, and then call me back as soon as you are able. If you get my voicemail, leave a message, I will call you back”.
So, this is why I hate voice mail. Thus, the name of this blog.
Leave a message, I will call you back.
This is the first installment of what I hope will be many. My goal is to write down the things that make me laugh, that puzzle and amuse me. I hope that from time to time they make you smile, and maybe even laugh every now and then.
In the future I plan to share my thoughts on waiting in line to get on a plane (gate crashers), boarding a plane and storing your luggage in the over head compartment, the Hollywood assistant, business meetings, kids today, advertising, the music business, friends, facebook, the drive-thru, and a few other things that come to mind.
Feedback is always welcome.
Thanks for listening.