I have a little problem. I’m afraid of my voice mail.
You see, I have one of those systems that won’t let you retrieve your new messages until you deal with the old ones. Every time I decide, “Okay, today I’m really going to do it – I’m going to go through all these messages and I’m going to have a pen and paper handy, and I’m going to write everyone’s phone numbers in my date book, and I’m going to call everyone back” ~
I log in and there’s that voice, saying, “The following messages will be deleted from your mailbox:…”
I mean, who needs threats from their answering machine? Who? Seriously. I hate that voice. I hate her. With the heat of a thousand suns. I want to find her and throw a pie at her face. Don’t judge – she hates me, too, or she wouldn’t keep harassing me like this.
And then the spiralling anxiety kicks in, because I know that messages only get deleted from my mailbox after 15 days. And so I realize that not only will I have to deal with all the messages from the past 15 days, but also all of the ones from the 15 days before that, which I fast-forwarded through and re-saved 15 days ago because I couldn’t muster it up to deal with them then, either. So I speed through every single one, skipping them and just re-saving them all so that I can go through them at my leisure at a more convenient time. And so the cycle continues…
It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I really do. I actually get very sad when there aren’t any messages. I love it when people call (well, except telemarketers…and stalkers…and my mom when she wants to know why I told my dad something before I told her…)
I mean, I do have call display (on the cordless phone which I tend to lose most frequently, naturally), but it is no help whatsoever, because almost everyone I know lives outside of my local calling area and we’re all using special long-distance services or pre-paid calling cards. Which look a lot like telemarketing phone numbers on call display. To which I perform a brief-but-scathing fuck-you ritual when I see them.
The worst part of it all is that I may actually know I owe someone a phone call…but when I try to call, I can’t remember their number, or it’s been disconnected. And then I get vague stirrings in my memory of a voice mail they left for me and I realize that in order to get their number, I am going to have to venture into the wildlands of my voice mailbox. It’s like that moment in the movies where you know the chick is going to go into the basement and you just know she shouldn’t. I hear ominous sharky music in my head. I acquire tunnel vision with a fiendishly glowing aura at the end, centred on my telephone.
I’m not trying to boast that I’m so popular I can’t keep up with my voice mail. Oh, no – in fact, I believe it is quite the opposite. The last few times I actually braced myself and listened through them, it was interesting to note how many of the messages began with “Hey, asshole…” – which always leads to one of those “BAHAHAHAAAhaha – hey!” moments. But I’m trying to learn to think of it as a term of endearment (which, actually, in my family, it kind of is).
The only time I voluntarily listen to my voice mail, really, is when I’m feeling blue. I act all cynical and sarcastic most of the time, but (don’t tell anyone) I’m such a sentimental loser. I really am. If you sing me a song or tell me that you love me in a voice mail message, odds are good it will be saved forever. My best friend phones me every year on my birthday at the crack of dawn and sings ‘Happy Birthday’ in a silly voice (Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe, etc.). I have at least three years’ worth of these calls still on record. When I feel funky, I go listen to these messages and I feel better. It’s a cheap, quick fix and it is not below me to use it.
Anyway, how about we just say that this post is an open letter to all those I’ve been neglecting and we start fresh? Or keep calling. I promise to stop being an asshole.
It’s not easy being afraid of your voice mail.