You’ve Got Mail

STAR Tannery, Virginia – Here’s another tidbit to make your head explode: voice mail is on the way out.

I know. It was such a terrific idea and so handy! Voice mail made it possible to totally avoid speaking on the phone directly for months and forced long-winded acquaintances to pare their diatribes down to the brief moments between beeps.

Personally, I’m not too upset about the demise of voice mail. I find my IQ tanks by 30 points when I have to deliver a voice mail message. My kids say I always sound like Eleanor Roosevelt on a high dose of valium.

All of that is going by the wayside now because the people who never had to deal with those antiquated businesses called “answering services” have deemed voice mail as too time consuming.

You know, there’s the exhausting task of punching in numbers and then having to punch in four more numbers for a passcode; then you have to listen to someone go on and on when all you really want is their number, which then you have to write down – all ten numerals; but, then again, maybe you do need to know the correct spelling of their name after all, so now you have to go through the trouble to rewind and listen again. . . and after all is said and done you’ve been forced to focus an entire minute and a half to one person.

If we’re honest, though, we’ll admit that it’s not a matter of “time.” If it were that, Ebay and YouTube websites would receive no hits during business hours and there would be virtually no forwarded e-mail jokes. We’ve evidently got plenty of time.

Let’s face it – the problem with voice mail is it’s time spent on someone we may or may not care about and it’s a real inconvenience to spend that entire minute and a half finding out which it is. After all, we need all those minute-and-a-halves gathered together to have the time to keep moronic shows like Celebrity Rehab on the air.

So, no, it’s not a matter of time – it’s a matter of patience. There is no longer tolerance of anything as boring as listening to the human sounds of stuttering and stammering for a minute and a half. That’s what people do; because most of us don’t prepare an oratory for the benefit of leaving a message that will hold you captivated for the 45 seconds needed to impart why our existence is not a waste of your time. Sorry.

A year ago, they were still running those Visa commercials that made you feel guilty for having the nerve to hold up the check out line in the store while you spent 30 seconds paying cash instead of zipping through with your maxed-out Visa card. Gee, you don’t see that commercial anymore. . .

So instead of voice mail, e-mail and texting are considered more efficient forms of communication. The fact that neither form requires proper grammar or sentence structure is purely coincidental.

Okay, this is starting to sound like one of those rants that the Gen-X, Y and Zers absolutely hate. I envision my sons 10 years from now sitting at a coffee shop, sighing in exasperation because they texted, “RU still alive?” to my honkin’ big Jitterbug cell phone and 20 seconds have passed without a response because I have to use both my arthritic hands to text back.

My problem with texting is that I always spell things out so it’s not very time efficient and I don’t do it enough to commit all the abbreviations to memory. Receiving a text is like trying to decipher those vanity license plates that mean something only to the owner of the car: BRX 7th 4mt nln ;[{]. All I wanted to know is if he’s coming home for dinner.

Somehow I suspect the demise of voicemail won’t extend to the service industry, where you can spend an entire afternoon following a computer voice’s missive to press telephone buttons in a vain search for an option that pertains to your specific problem. I have a feeling that particular institution is here to stay.

If that thought really ticks you off, press 9 now. If you wish to talk to a customer service representative, please hold the line and you will be disconnected promptly as we don’t have time to deal with cranky curmudgeons like you.

Have a nice day.

Copyright (c) 2007, SteelWill, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spot On is a trademark of SteelWill, Inc.


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