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Diatribe: Can We All, Please, Agree That A Missed Call Is Not The Same As A Voice Mail Message?


Voice MailI’ve been told that, when I talk, I sometimes don’t have a “filter”.  I’ll ramble on and say things that I might not necessarily say if I would stop and give the topic more thought.  Things that I’m thinking become confused with things that I’m actually saying and, sadly, it’s caused me to put my foot in my mouth on more than once occasion.  I’ve learned to write things down whenever possible to give myself an opportunity to think about what I’m going to say before I actually say it.

Needless to say, I do not possess the ability to spontaneously improvise a voice mail message.  If I make a phone call and it “goes to voice mail” I start to feel a sort of panic.  I begin to talk very fast and I hurriedly ramble in order to end the horror as quickly as possible.  Sometimes, I actually hang up without leaving a message.  If this happens, I do not expect a return call.  Here, along with a few other telephone peeves, is why …

“You saw that you missed a call from me!  Why didn’t you call me back?”

I didn’t call you back because you didn’t ask me to call you back.  If you want me to call you back, please leave a voice mail message and ask me to do so.  It’s helpful if you provide information that will allow me to prepare for the return call.  For example:

“Hi, it’s Margaret.  I’m calling to ask if you still have Grandma Lucy’s recipe for her famous sponge marble hot sauce cake.  I need to bring something to the bake sale at the library on Saturday morning and I remember folks used to love that smelly cake.”


“Help!  It’s Timmy and I’ve fallen down the old well off Highway 14 just north of Missy Martin’s Dance School!  My battery is almost dead and you might be the last person that I’m able to call.  I’ve hurt my leg and it’s bleeding a lot!  Please send help right away!”

It’s also unfair to assume that everyone who misses a call knows who the caller was.  Some cell phone carriers will only display names and numbers that are included in the list of contacts stored on the device.  Other numbers may be “blocked” or “unknown”.

“I see that I missed a call from you and that you’ve left me a voice mail … what did your voice mail say?”

I took the time to leave you a voice mail message and you don’t afford me the courtesy of listening to what I had to say?!  Is this the digital-age-equivalent of receiving a letter in your mailbox and calling the sender to ask them to read it to you?  Perhaps you’d prefer that I not call you again?  Please let me know and I’ll make a note.

“Hey, it’s me.  Callmebackrightawayatmphbitrhaigheldf!”

Thanks, “me”, for leaving me a voice mail message.  I appreciate the fact that you care enough about speaking to me to let me know that your call was intentional.  I do get my share of “butt calls”.  I’m afraid, however, that I didn’t recognize your voice so I don’t know who you are.  And the number that you left was a garbled mess because you said it so fast.  I sure do hope you’ll call back again so I can explain why I haven’t returned your call as requested.

I hate voice mail just as much as the next person but it’s a fact of life that we all have to learn to live with.  There are times when I, certainly, don’t have the patience to leave a message.  For instance, when I call someone whose voice mail greeting feels like the opening monologue of a three-act play …

“Hello!  You’ve reached Beverly Bootyshankle in the Accounting Department of Herpstein, Herpstein, Howlermonkey and Jones.  Today is Thursday, August 21, 2014 and I’ll be in the office from 8:30 until 11:30, attending a luncheon from 12:15 until 2:00 after which I’ll be free until a conference call that is scheduled to begin at 4:30.  My hair is up today and I’m wearing big earrings so, if I don’t answer after the first ring, it’s probably because I’ve taken a moment to remove my jewelry.  Your call is important to me so, at the sound of the tone, please leave a detailed message that includes your name, the time of your call, the reason for your call, a number at which you would like your call returned and any other information that you would like for me to have.  Thanks for calling Herpstein, Herpstein, Howlermonkey and Jones.  Have a great day!

I would hate Beverly Bootyshankle.  I wouldn’t leave her a message.  In fact, if I had called her I probably would have hung up before I knew she was going to a luncheon … certainly before I learned she was wearing big earrings.  Her greeting is far too long.  I wouldn’t expect her to call me back!

I bet Beverly sees a lot of missed calls and not very much voice mail.  Maybe she’s on to something.


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From → Diatribes

  1. Can I add an AMEN to this? I concur. I presume it must not have been important if you did not leave a message. I encourage my kids to be prepared for voicemail when they call so they can leave a message to at least register the effort that you tried. Thanks for writing this. BTG

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I hear one more person say “I don’t do voice mail” I think I might scream. If I dial your number and I’m allowed to leave a message then YOU DO VOICE MAIL!

      If you don’t want to monitor your voice mail, simply change your greeting to say say something like “You’ve reached an un-monitored voice mail box … please be advised that your message may not be received by the intended recipient”.

      Ignoring a voice mail is just plain rude.


  2. I am so not a phone person.
    And I’m glad.
    People think that because they call you–and you didn’t answer–that you actually talked; you did not.
    People think if you don’t answer you’re screening; maybe, if you’re me, your phone isn’t glued to your hand 24/7 and I’m actually doing something.
    I am so not a phone person.
    And I’m glad.


  3. Let’s face it – if it is not important enough for the caller to leave a message, then it’s not important enough for me to call you back.


  4. I have another one for the diatribe category. I received a call on my cell phone yesterday from a client — I saw that she’d left me a VM when I was checking my email on it. But I can’t access it for some reason. My phone says I have a VM, but won’t let me open it. If I had not noticed it (and why didn’t the phone RING? — I would have not returned an important business call. OY!


    • Surely, this is an exception and not your rule. I’m confident that you returned the call and explained that you were unable to listen to the voice mail instead of using the “Did you just call me?” technique. 😉


  5. thedogs'mother permalink

    My phone has limited IQ points. I can text the kids and The Engineer
    and that is all I want to do on it.


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