just ponderin'

… on freakin’ voicemail greetings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week began with me sharing a quote from Bill Cosby with a friend, “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”

Cool quote.

All sorts of meaning in that one.

I liked it so much that I wrote it on my downstairs bathroom chalkboard.

The one I call the ‘potty chalkboard’.

It’s the one you can read from the sink in there, and feel like your trip to the bathroom was an unusually productive experience.

You can also read it from the potty and – along with potty business and washing your hands – you can acquire some damned impressive wisdom.

You can go into my downstairs bathroom and emerge a freakin’ multi-tasking virtuoso.

True.

Anyway, I found myself reminded of that quote all week (and not only when I was in the bathroom), and there were surprisingly ample opportunities to share the quote with other people.

Self-proclaimed-perfect-boy-Gabe was invited to attend a soccer tournament in Phoenix and play at the next level.

He was nervous about his ability to step up.

I tossed him the Cosby quote.

Another friend was amazed at an achievement he had worked so hard for, and agonized over, had come his way.

I congratulated him on living the Cosby quote.

The Cosby quote bounced around my personal universe all dang week long.

It’s profound.

And it’s applicable to weighty situations (especially when one wants to sound all sorts of sagacious on their potty chalkboard (Google away :))

See? How fun is it to know what sagacious means now? Great word. Especially if you have a potty chalkboard.

photographic proof that my potty chalkboard is, in fact, located near the potty

photographic proof that my potty chalkboard is, in fact, located near the potty

Anyway, The Cos nailed it and I clearly found it to be both deep and applicable.

But I also found it to be haunting.

Like, it leaves no excuse for not doing anything you are afraid of.

Failure.

Success.

Family gatherings.

Or re-recording your freakin’ voicemail greeting on your phone.

Have you done that lately?

How’d that work for you?

Oh sure, you might be someone who is all ‘I don’t care. I just record it once and I never listen to it again. No biggie.’

Liar.

Your voicemail message – the one that everyone hears when they call you and it goes to your voicemail? It’s a lot like the photo on your license.

Everyone says it’s no big deal and they don’t care, but if that Registry of Motor Vehicles lady offers you another photo and there isn’t anyone in line right behind you, you are totally going for another photo.

Why?

Because you don’t want to look like a soon to be ex-con in a police line up who was caught off guard when Officer Friendly told you to say cheese.  That’s why.

And guess what.

You don’t want to come off as some moron who can’t manage to create a seven second, error-free, non-robotic audible sentence when someone has the patience to wait through three to five rings on the way to leaving you a voicemail message.

So we’ve settled it.

It matters.

Terror. Embodied.

Terror. Embodied.

So what is it with that?

I mean, we talk to people all the time without goofing up our sentences or sounding like high-pitched, overly solicitous telemarketers.

But yet, the seven seconds it takes to execute our voicemail greetings can yield the most eye-brow raising results and a frustration aftermath not often seen this side of trying to get to the chips at the bottom of a Pringles can.

The last time I recorded my voicemail greeting went something like this:

I was out of earshot of my family, as I didn’t want anyone to hear what was naturally going to be a process.

I had done this before.

First try: “Hello, this is Lisa. I’m not here right now. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.

Playback reaction to first try: (a wHierd combination of first person and second person. I can’t explain it. It’s just how I talk to myself): Jesus. You sound like Mickey Mouse. Do I really sound like that? Oh geez. Okay, lower your voice so you sound more gravelly. And I think we should not say ‘hello’. Okay…

Second try: “Hi. It’s Lisa. Uhhh… I’m not here right now so uhhhh…. leave a message and I’ll uhhhhh get back to you as soon as I can. Bye!”

Playback reaction to second try: Oh my God I sound like a male airline pilot; ‘We’ll be travelling at – uhhhhh – 30,000 feet and – uhhhhhh – it might get a bit choppy for – uhhhhh – a few minutes or so – uhhhh – so I’ve asked the – uhhhhh – flight atttendants to – uhhhhh- keep the fasten seatbelt sign on…” That was too low too. Now I am the opposite of Mickey Mouse. I’m James Earl Jones. Crap. I’m Darth Vadar without the creepy breathing. Okay. Find a happy medium. Don’t say ‘uhhhh’.

Third try: “Hi (pause) You’ve reached Lisa Dingle (pause) I can’t come to the phone right now (pause) so leave a message at (HUGE BREATH) the beep and I’llgetbacktoyouassoonasIcan.”

Playback reaction to third try: That was like FIVE SECONDS. How the Hell did I run out of air during a five second sentence. Gah!

Okay. You get the gist.

How many re-recordings did I do before I said ‘screw it’ and kept the one that I have, which is still awful, just like my drivers license photo?

Nine.

I recorded that freakin’ voicemail greeting nine times before I gave up and accepted the perfectly imperfect one that is on my phone right now (or at Verizon. I never know what’s on my phone and what’s at Verizon. I have no idea. The NSA probably knows. But not me.)

So nine times.

And that was six years ago.

Six years.

So I thought that I should re-record a more hip, up to date message. Maybe I’ll leave out the ‘I can’t come to the phone right now’ because, really, it’s a cell phone. I don’t really have to move all that far to move it from my hand to my head if a call comes in that I can’t take.

Maybe I’ll make a joke or share my feelings. Like, “I probably have my phone in my hand but I can’t talk to you right now because I’m in public and I don’t talk to people in public where everyone can hear me. It freaks me out.”

No.

Too many political cell phone overtones with that one.

I don’t want to sound all judge-y.

Maybe I could…

Wait.

See?!

See how wHierded out I am just at the thought of re-recording my voicemail greeting?!

I was nearly catatonic just thinking about it.

So some time after I decided I should re-record my freakin’ voicemail greeting I, in my fragile state, wandered into my downstairs bathroom.

Kapow!

The Cosby quote is right there on the potty chalkboard.

“Decide you want it more than you are afraid of it.”

Ah, fluck.

Nailed to the wall by a quote I chose myself.

Maybe I should have entitled this column, ‘… on the freakin’ Cosby quote’.

Thanks for readin’.

* As always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment or just hang out.

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