Sorry, I Can’t Take Your Call


Voice mail is one of those “love/hate” kind of things.  Some people could not live without it, while others still have an aversion to talking to a recorder .  Never mind the convenience of it all, being able to leave a message when no one is there to answer.  It is deeper than that, not unlike the aversion of some primitive tribes to having a picture taken for fear it could steal their soul.

Some people are sure that the electronic message system will somehow twist their words and make them come out in a way that was not intended.  This can become somewhat of a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Being nervous while talking to a machine can cause the words to come out wrong and before you can take them back, your words are recorded for posterity — your soul has been stolen.

Ever mess up when calling someone and make yourself sound like a blithering fool? This is not so bad if is just a friend or family member, but could it be part of the reason texting is so popular? When making a professional call, we hate having our verbal inadequacy made a matter of record. Businesses do not usually have a text message option — at least not yet.

Some people, apparently, do not mind sounding ridiculous.  Some, in fact, leave an answering message on their own system that sounds like it was made under gunpoint in extreme duress.  You know the kind:  “Hello-this-is-Dr. Jones’-office-we-are-not-in-the office-now-please-leave-a message-at-the-beep,” all done in monotone.  On the other end of the spectrum is the too cute, too friendly, too eager type of message.  “Hi!  THANK YOU for calling!   Your call is important to me!   I’ll call you back as soon as possible!” How long is “as soon as possible” anyhow?

There are a few holdouts that still refuse to set up voice mail. They expect people to actually call back if they are not home or the line is busy.  Seems the phone company has even covered this base now, however.  The other day I made a call and instead of the busy signal I usually get when the line is busy, I was offered the recorded option of leaving a message. People without voice mail were probably one of the last frontiers for the information age.

I called the phone company to see what was going on.  Seems this is a “service” that came from my own phone company. I can leave a message on the phone company’s equipment, and it will continue to call the number until the phone is answered, or for a certain number of calls, or for a certain amount of time — or maybe even for 3 years or 50,000 miles, who knows?  This is all for a fee, of course.

It really is hard to imagine how someone gets by these days without voice mail.  It is almost annoying when an actual person answers the phone.  Here I am all puckered up and ready to record when a real person picks up the phone.  How dare them answer!  Then I am stuck with actually talking to them instead of just leaving a quick message.

People sometimes joke about letting their voicemail call your voicemail. While the recordings are talking to each other, real people could get a lot of stuff done.  We could even make up an original answering message instead of using the canned ones that come with the voice mail services. The worst message I’ve heard recently was from my credit card company, whose recording advised me: “If you want to end this call, hang up.”  Guess they figured I wasn’t smart enough to figure that out.

Even cell phones have voice mail nowadays. Things are getting so darn convenient we might as well just get rid of land phones entirely.  Some people already have.

Excuse me, my phone is ringing. What?  No message?

©1999-2016 Sheila Moss
article updated

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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8 Responses to Sorry, I Can’t Take Your Call

  1. Sheila Moss says:

    It’s pretty similar to my cordless house phone. Did you forget what they look like? LOL Guess it could pass for one of those early cell phones that were like carrying a brick around.


  2. Is this a phone, TV remote,or calculator ?


  3. I do agree that voicemail is a love/hate thing. I love to hate it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. stomperdad says:

    My parents ditched their landline because the only ones who called it were me and the telemarketers. Now I have to call their cell phones 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lois says:

    I had some relatives that refused to talk to a machine. Now, I am sometimes startled when I get a human to answer. Like you wrote, it throws you off track. Personally I feel like it can save me some time to say what I need and hang up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. energywriter says:

    You said it so well. So funny because we’ve all been there. sd

    Liked by 1 person

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