Part of every day at the bookstore is spent calling customers to tell them their books have arrived. This means that I get to hear a lot of outgoing voice mail or answering machine messages. With this in mind, I’ve created a helpful list to make this part of my job easier.
– Animals have no business being on a message. Barking dogs and squawking parrots are not fun to hear on the phone. I have called people and had to listen to 30 seconds of barking because someone thought that was funny. It’s not. It’s 30 seconds of a dog barking at me.
– I don’t speak another language, so if you do, just know that I’m thrilled and jealous about your bilingual ability, and I’m just waiting for the beep and silently hoping I’ve called the right number.
– Singing on your outgoing message should also be avoided. Some folks actually have lovely voices, but the singing messages tend to be long and there’s no way to fast forward to the beep.
– Do try to identify yourself in the message. So often I feel like I’m just hoping I’ve gotten the number right and messages like, “Leave a message.” or “Congratulations, you’ve reached me,” do little to allay those fears.
– Don’t give me directions. Lately, I’ve called people and been urged to “just breathe” or “slow down and enjoy the music.” I’m working. I have enough to do without being told how to manage my time.
– Lastly, if your outgoing message contains your kids laughing because they’ve messed up the outgoing message, please leave that. While I might not always enjoy the messages the kids leave on the answering machine if I can hear them being coached by parents, kids just losing it in fits of giggles delights me. And if it’s a particularly infectious laugh, I might just call back so I can keep laughing.