I love my answering machine. I must, since I often change the greeting much to the occasional surprise of telemarketers. My favorite is, "WGHE -you're on the air!" That's usually followed by a message filled with stammering and great effort by the caller.
I'm a little behind the electronics curve, although do I have a cell phone. My favorite possession is the previously-mentioned answering machine from the era which brought us the end of disco. For those too young to know, the answering machine had a sub-micro cassette tape which recorded every message except the last one. That message usually ended up being cut off before important information could be communicated. You didn't want to come home to "the Clearinghouse Giveaway has awarded you ten thousand dollars. Claim your prize by calling 800 527-3 >beep< "
When I got home one day last week, the message light was blinking with no apparent end. I didn't mind the political campaign message too much, though I found it odd that suddenly my financial contribution is "urgent". It certainly wasn't urgent when they began campaigning two years ago. What was urgent was the the next message. Wrong number or not, I am NOT going hang gliding with the Gunzenmeisters in November.
Retrieving one's messages can be joyful or, depending on your debt level, downright sad. The machine, designed to blink once for each message, did so with the frequency of landing strip lights at O'Hare. Tapping the "play" button, I discovered seventeen messages lurking behind the "your cable bill is overdue again, Adcox" communique -one which I had been avoiding until payday. The first couple of messages weren't out of the ordinary. A friend who phoned to ask if I'm meeting with the ol' gang, and an invitation from mom to come for dinner accounted for the next couple of notifications.
As interesting as that message was (mom is a good cook), I preferred the fourth one in queue: Franklin wanted to contact me regarding getting published "for the special rate of only five-hundred fifty dollars", but only if I returned the call by the end of the week. Turns out that for all of that dough I'd still have to sell the major bookstores, Ebay, Amazon, etc. on the idea that my blog entries are more timeless than Moby Dick.Yep, ol' Ishmael Adcox turned the offer down. That was fortunate, since a chunk of that money was sought out by some financial services guy who left a message offering to loan me six thousand dollars at eighteen percent interest.
While I mulled that prospect over, I took note of my insurance company's message. In no uncertain terms they were going to bill me for liability coverage on a car I haven't had for two years. I made a note to call them after listening to the remaining messages from such notables as the Dalmatian Relocation Fund, Saint Mary's University (the Registrar apparently thinks a final course grade of B should be redefined, somehow, as "unsatisfactory"), and an offer to have my chimney swept for the introductory rate of seven hundred dollars.
The best message I received was from a friendly acquaintance who could barely restrain himself from laughing (and thereby inducing my own laughter) at the greeting on my machine. Thanks to the modern marvels of electronic engineering, I was able to duplicate the sound of an angry hornet trying to sting me while I took aim and shot it with a high-velocity weapon.
Sometimes there's a good reason for not coming to the phone when it rings.
Please leave a message.