ANSWER ME THIS

I love telephone answering machines. Always have.

Nobody ever phones you because they want to GIVE you something, so an answering machine means you don’t actually have to talk to them. You just listen to their message, then experience the delight of pressing the ‘delete’ button and jettisoning it off to wherever these voice recordings go.

But there’s more. They are a wonderful tool for leaving annoying outgoing messages such as “Thank you for calling. If you wish to speak to Robert, press 1. If you wish to speak to Sandra, press 2. Should you wish to sell us something, press 3. To leave a message, press 5. Under no circumstances press 4; this is only for use in emergencies and gives access to the secure line.”

Or how about.: “I can’t come to the phone now… well, actually I can come to the phone. Like, well, NOW, because I’m here NOW, recording this message. But I’m not here, like, NOW, while you’re calling. I’ve gone now. So you’re here, listening to this message LATER, which for you is actually NOW… I think… are you following this? Gosh, this is confusing. So, leave a message and I’ll listen to it later… which, for me, means I’ll be listening to it NOW, if you see what I mean.”

But for more fun, you can use the concept of an answering machine for playing pranks… When somebody calls, you pick up the phone and say: “Hi, I can’t come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone. Beeeeeeeeep.”

Let the caller leave their message. When they finish, and just as they hang up, say: “Thanks for calling… ‘Bye!”

But what about when YOU have to leave a message on somebody’s machine? These days, I don’t say who I am or what I want. I just leave a short joke, such as “What do you call an exploding monkey? A BABOOM!” Clunk.

Perhaps the best ever, though, was when I misdialled, and instead of getting the local branch of my bank, a voice said “Hello, this is the Reverend Robertson. Sorry I’m not here, but please leave a message…”

I don’t know where it came from, but I said “Hello! This is God. Where are you when I need you?” Clunk.

Oh, yes, I love telephone answering machines. Always will.

Drew McAdam

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