Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shut Up and Leave a Message

Typical message on the church's answering machine.

Hi. This Mary Jones. I'm calling about the yard sale. I, uh, is it this Saturday? Because my daughter is moving and she has some stuff. But she isn't moving until next Sunday. She and her husband are going to Montana. But if the yard sale is this Saturday, I guess she can't donate anything for the yard sale. Anyway, Bill and I have some things we'd like to donate. We have an antique dresser. It's really nice and has a mirror. And we have a bookshelf. Oak. Maybe the church can use that. Or you can sell it. And we also have a chair, kinda like a lazy boy, only it's not, but...

Clunk! That would be the sound of the phone hitting the desk as I let her ramble incoherently, and I get on with the rest of my work. Checked back after a minute, and, oh, boy, she's still a-rambling.

Why do some people feel the need to babble incessantly on an answering machine? Is it therapeutic? It's a machine; it doesn't judge; it doesn't interrupt. It's an electronic god that not only listens to your prayers, it records them for safekeeping?

The knee-jerk reaction is to blame old age, but some of the longest, dullest, most self-involved messages have been left by people who are nowhere near retirement age. Like the congregation member who left a long message for the pastor, which included way too much personal information about her finances and banking.

I don't hear much over the phone. It's not a physical problem. Instead my brain, when confronted with a babbling, disembodied voice, especially a recorded one, clicks off after a minute.

On the other end of the spectrum is the I'm-Too-Important-to-Speak-Slowly message.

ThisisRobertJohnsonI'matfivefivefivethreesixtwofouroh. Ineedtospeakwith [unintelligible due to cell phone] aboutmy [more cell phone weirdness].

My latest policy. I only rewind once. If I can't understand it the second time through...DELETE.

Funny how, with all our communication devices, many people have no idea how to communicate.

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