Bill KirbyOnline news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Say what you mean in that phone message

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A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.

– H.H. Munro

If you’re like me, you find yourself often leaving a message for people the first time you call instead of talking to them.

It’s the way it is, as people and businesses and most everyone else seem to let the answering machine help them “filter” their phones.

Young people can’t believe how we used to do it: The phone rang, and you rushed to answer.

It could be an emergency.

It could be a family death.

It could be Ed McMahon offering you money. (They have no idea who Ed McMahon is, by the way, much less Johnny Carson.)

Today, the young people say, “The machine will get it,” or they glance down casually at a buzzing cellphone, shrug and say, “I’ll call them back.”

A game of phone tag will no doubt ensue.

That brings up my problem with all this leave-a-message business. I have found many people are notoriously bad at leaving a message – particularly a phone number.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have listened to a two-minute recording, which closed out with: “… so, if you could call me back at (706) 555 – mumble, mumble – click!”)

And you have to listen to the whole message again just so see if you can pick up the slurred numbers this time around.

I try to avoid this myself.

When I leave a message, I first state my name slowly and clearly, like I was explaining something to someone not only unfamiliar with English but also a bit dull-witted.

Then I will, slowly and deliberately, leave my number.

Then I will discuss the reason for my call. Then I will close out by restating my name and … (again, very slowly) my number.

Unless, of course, I really don’t want to talk to them, in which case I’ll leave a long message, save my call-back number for the end and cough while giving it.


MORE PHONES: Every day I see something I’ve never seen. Monday I saw a motorcycle passenger turn left in front of my car at a light. Instead of holding on, however, the passenger was looking down at a cellphone and texting with both hands.

TODAY’S JOKE: Here’s one shared by Charlie Williams:

A husband and wife were involved in a petty argument, both of them unwilling to admit they might be in error.

“I’ll admit I’m wrong,” the wife told her husband in a conciliatory attempt, “if you’ll admit I’m right.”

He agreed and, like a gentleman, insisted she go first.

“I’m wrong,” she said.

With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, “You’re right!”

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