Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yes, I Got Your Voice Mail. What Of It?

I have, in the past few years, developed a severe loathing of all things associated with working in an office environment. Today's post will deal with one of the things that I truly hate about it.

Voice mail.

As many of you know, I work in state government, specifically, payroll. There is nothing worse that drives me up to and over the cliff on a perpetual basis, than dealing with people who don't know the basics of using a telephone.

Usually, it goes something like this: I'll get back to my cube after being away for a few minutes to find that the little red light on my phone is lit up, telling me that I have a message waiting for me (or I'll have the light go on while I'm sitting there. Don't laugh, my phone is just that messed up).

So I go into my voice mail (first dialing the four digit extension to it, then putting in my extension, then putting my security password in) and retrieve the message. After I spend about five minutes (seriously) trying to make sense out of it, I hang up. Then I stare at what I wrote, then ignore it for the rest of the day.

Why? Because~~~~~~~~~~~~>1} You left me an incomplete number. Please, please, please remember, the state that you live in has TWO AREA CODES: 203 & 860*. And quite frequently, a prefix will share BOTH AREA CODES. So leave me all TEN DIGITS OF YOUR PHONE NUMBER, NOT SEVEN. Especially if you live OUT OF STATE AND COMMUTE TO THIS STATE TO WORK.

Why? Because~~~~~~~~~~~~>2} You garbled your name. How in the world am I suppose to return your phone call if I haven't a clue on WHO YOU IS. Sorry pal, I don't return phone calls to people that make me say, "Excuse me, someone from this number called me. Would you know who that was?"

Why? Because~~~~~~~~~~~~>3} You said your message so freakin' fast that I have no idea on what you're talking about. Listen, IT AIN'T THAT HARD TO SPEAK LIKE ELMO. TRY IT SOMETIME, YOU MIGHT GET YOUR PHONE CALL RETURNED. I'm sorry, but there are times where I would rather speak to a five year old with a mouthful of food, instead of trying to figure out what some lame brain who makes twice my salary is saying.

Why? Because~~~~~~~~~~~~>4} You didn't leave your number to begin with. Like, how am I SUPPOSED TO CONTACT YOU? AM I SUPPOSE TO GUESS WHAT YOUR NUMBER IS? Seriously, do you even think about how not giving me a number makes you like a complete idiot and causes me have a low opinion of you? Well, do you?

Why? Because~~~~~~~~~~~~>5} You ain't my employee. Seriously, do you even KNOW WHO YOUR PAYROLL CLERK IS? This is something that is perpetually drilled into employees whenever they go to the local H.R. rep out in the field. DON'T CALL ME IF I AIN'T YOUR CLERK. Nothing worse than having to transfer your pathetic little phone call because you couldn't be bothered to find out who handles your payroll. Especially if you tell me that this is the first time you called payroll in two or three years.

From these examples, you can see why I don't like responding to voice mails. Shoot, this is even why I don't like answering my phone (another post for another time) at work.

You want a response? Send me an e-mail. I'll be more than happy to politely tell you where you can stick your problem. Especially if you're one of my problem children.

I thank you for your patience today. I promise, I will reward all of you with a more upbeat post very, very soon.

*I read about a week ago, that our state will be picking up two more area codes. So our tiny little state will now have four area codes, which will make ten digit dialing for both local and long distance, a necessary evil. God help us all.


  1. Nice. :)

    Yeah, it's maddening all right. My lovely wife is a fast phone talker. If she's out of town and leaves me a message with the phone number of the hotel she's staying at, I have to play it back, like 10ten times to finally get all the numbers...

    All i hear is something like... "I'm at5857262522ext.1047393"

    I'm left looking into the phone and asking "Huh?"

  2. It's even more mind numbing at work.

    I just remember reason #6, so I'll post it here.

    You attempted to fax a document to my phone number, thus the fax machine left me ten voice mails because it didn't know when to disconnect.


  3. Our payroll is halfway across the country and apparently is manned by robots.

  4. You sure some of those robots weren't dumped at a few of the local branches in Connecticut?

    Never understood the concept of a centralized payroll for large organization/company.

    You would think that a quasi-public agency like the USPS would have regional offices for their payroll, instead of one located in D.C.

  5. I'm not a fan of voice mail either. I love e-mail. Usually, the writer gets quickly to the point. All of the important info is there. Voice mail tag is such a waste of time. You're reminding me of those less pleasant parts of office work. Being home with the crazy kids has its advantages, I guess :)

  6. Anyone who ever leaves voice mail should be REQUIRED TO READ THIS POST!!!!!

    Well said, Georgie-O!

    Do you Tweet?

  7. Oh, I hate phones! I have a bit of a phone phobia, at least when it comes to speaking with strangers. I find email SO much simpler -- for me, it's easier to convey my thoughts and contact info through written words. And it's impossible to garble a name or phone number when it's written down. Email just makes more sense to me... :)

  8. Septembermom: sometimes I get e-mails from people who shouldn't, under any circumstances, be allowed within five hundred feet of a computer.

    You have just given me a great idea for a future post on e-mail basics 101. Thanks.

    Jannie: Thanks. No I don't Tweet. My phone doesn't have the ability to text, I don't have that kind of manual dexterity anymore, and my job doesn't allow texting.

    As a matter of record, I text only from my laptop (yes, with my Yahoo I can text). If you so desire, feel free to e-mail me and I'll give you the particulars.

    Lisa: When I handled tuition reimbursement for my agency, I told people right off the bat to e-mail me with tuition questions. I have a nasty habit of screening my phone calls, and I found it much easier to respond to e-mails than respond to voice mails.

  9. Here's what I think - You most definitely should write a memoir about your wranglings at work - and I'm not kidding! Lots of laughs at seeing ourselves here.

    Now here's my voice mail gripe - that's all I ever get when I call a company - it seems like no one ever answers their phones anymore!

  10. Sounds like a plausible idea. The sad part is that most of these of fun-filled anecdotes start in 2004, when came back to work full time doing payroll.

    Oh boy, I know the feeling about what I call "voice mail hell". Trying to get hold a human being at a large corporation can be an exercise in futility.

    You press so many stupid numbers to get a human being that you want to rip your phone out of the wall.

    The only way I see to combat that (and this has worked quite well for me), is to remain silent. Remaining silent automatically kicks you to the head of the line and transfer you automatically to a human being.

  11. A lovely catalogue of the insane usage of voice mail!!!

    When still in business I used to receive quite a few ansaphone calls. I could usually discern whom it was by their voice; suprised them when I returned the call supposedly left anonymously.

    I also went out of my way to praise those who left really clear messages covering all the bases that Georgie has enumerated. Nothing like a bit of positive reinforcement to promote good behaviour.


  12. You forgot the person who leaves a 10 minute message with their phone number buried at the end so when I need your number i have to listen to you babble again b/c I missed it the first time.

  13. This hit home. SO many people also leave some incredibly rambling message, then race through their phone number too fast to write it down, and I have to listen to the whole freaking message again. hate it hate it.

  14. Dave: so very, very true. On the rare occasions that someone would leave me a clear and concise voice mail, with the right amount info for me to actually get the particulars for them before calling them back, that person would wind up on my perferred customer list from that point forward.

    Alantru: the fax machines that the state has, I swear must have a default program that makes the machine try for five solid minutes before finally disconnecting. This has been a major thorn in my side ever since I started doing payroll in 2004. The most voice mails I ever got from a fax machine was 17, which were left on my phone one weekend.

    bearman: thanks, I did forget the ten minute rambling message. nobody, but nobody has pulled that on me. usually, if the message goes beyond forty-five seconds and it covers the same thing I've already answered twice, I'll hit save and listen to it much, much later in the day. Maybe.

    Charles: redundancy is the key. I usually get the same twenty-five or so people who leave me a voice mail, and for the most part, I don't even bother listening for the phone number. I have access to numerous phone lists for work, so if I need to call them back, I can find the number from there.

    But I have gotten voice mails like that. The most times I've ever listened to one message was five. After the fifth time of trying to decipher the number and failing, I gave up and deleted the voice mail.

    Sent them an e-mail instead.

  15. I have two cell phones, one of which is a company phone and I refuse to set up my voice mail service because I dislike dealing with it. I guess that's silly now that I'm writing this but that's how I feel about it.

  16. No I don't think it's silly. I think its a perfectly reasonable attitude towards cell phone voice mail (a even more insidious form of hell to inflict on callers and owners alike).

    Cell phone voice mail, in my opinion, is simply a useless waste of space. Your phone is basically on 24/7, so it's not like you really need the voice mail. Most phones have that missed call feature, so it makes it really easy to retrieve a phone number, should you want to call someone back.


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