What is there about creating an answering machine message that is so intimidating? The most eloquent among us often shudder at the thought of having to compose a message. It’s almost like this message, which we imagine will be heard by the entire world, will reveal our very essence, the secret to our innermost being. Now that I think about it, maybe it does. Hey, it’s just a greeting, right? But no, we think we have to be ingenious or overly gracious or tell a story so the caller will feel like they have missed talking to the coolest person on earth.
Once a week, I volunteer at a local non-profit medical clinic making calls to remind patients about upcoming appointments. When I get an answering machine I can pretty much count on the message falling into these categories:
1. The “deer in the headlights” message.” This person is stunned. A prompt has put them in the position of talking to a machine for possibly the first time in their lives. They’re clueless. They panic, completely unaware that there is an option that lets you erase and try again. They stutter, mispronounce and yes, even forget who they are. Then they are so relieved they have finished, there’s usually another 1-2 minutes of silence before they remember to hang up the phone.
2. The “stand-up comic” message. These are the Jerry Seinfeld/Roseanne Barr wannabes. You’re a captive audience right? I mean, you called didn’t you? Nobody twisted your arm. So you’ve got to listen to their schtick whether you want to or not. Look at it this way, you just saved the gas and cover charge that it would have cost to go to the local comedy club.
3. The “we are not worthy” message. These folks begin by apologizing for not being there. They humbly appeal to you sense of fairness by asking you to forgive them and promise, nay guarantee, that if you will only identify yourself, their only reason for living will be to return your call.
4. The “I’m interminably clever” message. Example: “Hi, the dogs are not allowed to answer the phone when we’re not home, so please leave a message.” Need I say more?
5. The “I’m really, really happy and you should be too” message. You’ve probably heard this message already today. A Pollyanna message delivered with lilting voice ends with “have a fantastically super great day.” Now if your day turns out to be crappy, you feel guilty and want to call them back and apologize.
6. The “You bothered me because…?” message. These are abrupt and almost threatening , meant to discourage you from ever calling again. They work.
Well, such is life in the age of digital phone technology. It provides a platform for even the least mentally adroit of us to put ourselves out there. Sort of like my blog.
DISCLAIMER: If case any of you reading this are using any of these messages on your phone, this blog was written by an unidentified blogger who hacked into my site. And have a super fantastic great day. Really.
You have the most impressive sites. http://bit.ly/2f0xJ92
I like leaving the ones that say hello, and then leave a space so the caller thinks they have got through and start talking to you 🙂
Oh my, you are evil!
Firstly very smart new look. The only thing is it’s hard to see where you cursor is when you’ve made a typo in the comment box. I’ve just found that out. Anyway, I’ve been found guilty of leaving a silly message on the answering machine so I just play it by the book now
Truth be told, I had my home phone message privileges revoked a long time ago. My wife has custody of that part of our phone service. However, my cell phone is a different story.
Lol, my dad has had his revoked too 🙂
Peas in a pod
Love your photo of the deer in the headlights. Classic!
The list of why I like your dad continues to grow!
He presses my buttons sometimes too 🙂
Having recent experience in the “of a certain age” dating scene, I hasten to add the “come and get me” messages designed to put a flutter in the heart of the caller. Not pretty.
Hope I don’t come across that one. I may not have that many flutters left!
What’s your phone number?
(804) 556-8821. Trust me?
In a word…no. What is your answering machine message like?
LOL! Smart lady, Peg.
Our message is left by my sweet wife and her lilting voice. For the record, and in case she reads this, I heartily endorse her message 100%.
Personally I prefer the funny message because the dogs can’t answer the phone.
I believe Delilah would answer the phone if you let her.
I’ve left messages with different accents. My Nebulous Eastern European Accent may have gotten me on some CIA watch-list. I hear odd clicks on my phone every once in a while. Of course, it just could be poor cell service on my disposable, untraceable phone during my overseas calls to my contacts, um, relatives.
I tend to go with the apologetic approach, because I genuinely feel the caller must feel awful having missed the chance to talk to me live and in person. 😉
Frankly, I would be devastated if I didn’t get to speak with you personally. I don’t care if you are a double agent.
Personally we do not have a phone that takes messages so we do not have the problem… But when I worked for the Inland Revenue (Inspector of Taxes) I made this one to go on the phone.
Hello, This is Patrecia at Redhill 2
So Pleased I am to speak to you
Do not panic or put down the phone
Just speak clearly after the tone..
Then when I have a minute or two
I shall pick up the phone and speak with you….
it went down well with the irate tax-payers who were phoning to complain about something
Very novel idea, Patrecia and a good poem. But if I were an angry customer I would probably reply:
Patrecia at Redhill, I have a complaint
Taxes are necessary, but your poetry ain’t
It’s the size of my bill that I don’t care about
So stop with the verse and give me a shout.
This was hilarious because it’s true. I secretly erased my husband’s message: If you’re calling to sell us something, we’re not interested. And don’t call back.
Not a great message for prospective employers phoning to offer me an interview to hear…
He should have ended it with “and have a lousy day!” Seriously, I know it’s tempting with all the annoyance calls but it put you in a spot. So what category are you in now?