Kent State PR prof and Writing Boots regular Bill Sledzik declares on his outgoing voice mail message that he doesn't check incoming messages. I think I'm going to start doing that.
Voice mail fills me with crawling dread, because it is by voice mail that catastrophic news comes. "Enter your password, followed by the pound sign." This is the hour of lead. "If you want to listen to your messages, press one." What do I press if I want to jump out the window? "You have seven voice mail messages." Oh shit, that's exactly the number of clients I have—or had. The photo of me in assless chaps must have hit the papers.
Worse yet is when you inevitably find out that six of the messages are automated recordings from the Chicago Public Schools telling you to bundle up your kid because it's cold outside, but the seventh is from a friend or client or colleague who merely identifies himself and says, "Give me a call."
With so many other means of more detailed query-making, a voice mail message to "call me" now seems to me a manipulative stunt that you wouldn't think of pulling on email unless you were somebody's inconsiderate boss or impatient spouse. But somehow it's still acceptable on voice mail.
Why wouldn't you tell me why you're calling? Is it because you think, "just wanna catch up" isn't urgent-sounding enough to get you the call-back you seek? And so you're leaving me to think maybe Uncle Frank finally died, only to find out that you just have the dialies because you're stuck in traffic somewhere?
Or are you giving me only "call me" because you want to spring a thing on me, in person. You don't want to give me time to prepare an excuse for why I can't go to the flower show on Sunday. Or you want catch me off guard in some other way.
Otherwise, why wouldn't you just say, "Hey, you know that mechanical bull you rode at the bar last night? That was my sister. I'm not mad, it was an honest mistake. But call me back because I want to see about borrowing those cool chaps."?
No. It's just, "Give me a call."
No. I won't give you a call. Because I think you're going to surprise me with something, and I don't like surprises. I'm a complicated guy, living a busy life in a complicated world! I don't just answer all questions and take all comers and return all phone calls just because the caller told me to!
"Hi, this is David Murray. I can't talk right now and I don't check voice mail because voice mail is used these days only to deliver messages of doom, or to manipulate people. I hope you'll email or text me the reason for your call and I'll call you back as soon as I can."
Can anyone give me a reason why not?