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September 3rd, 2010


Dear Automated Voicemail Coach,

We get it, lady. I didn’t wanna have to be the one to break it to you but you’ve got to know the truth: You’re useless.

Here’s the thing, we all know how to leave messages. Believe it or not, we here in the flashy modern world have actually been leaving messages for dozens of years before your robotic voice was born. I don’t mean to offend you (do robots have feelings?) but the only thing that your repetitive anthem has been accomplishing is the jacking-up of my daytime minutes.

If we’re talking before 6 p.m., I wouldn’t even let a friend-in-need yammer on for the length of time it takes you to spit out your useless instructions, “At the tone please record your message, when you are finished recording you may hang up or press pound for more options.”

Really?! I may hang up? Cause for the longest time I was recording my messages and staying on the line with hopes of hearing my favorite podcast. Either that or I would duct tape my phone to a skateboard and physically push it towards the direction of the intended message recipient.

It’s not just your worthlessness that bugs me, it’s the way you deliver your lines. You’d think you were having an Oprah’s “Aha!” moment. “Extra, extra! Read all about it: Messages are left after tones and end with hang ups!… Also the world is round, heroin is addictive and women are more susceptible to pregnancy than men!” That’s really groundbreaking stuff, Captain Obvious.

The only informative thing about your mini speech (and “informative” is a stretch) is your hint about pressing pound. Having the option to review, erase or re-record our not so prolific messages is definitely useful. Then there’s the less brilliant option to mark our voice notes as “urgent”. Isn’t that extra label just one more piece of audio-fluff delaying the receiver from getting your “urgent” message? I’m pretty sure the only people that use this option are desperate ex-lovers who create fake reasons for calling in the first place (“Uh, yeah I still have that box of stuff that belongs to you and it’s totally cramping my apartment so…Let’s have coffee.”)

The thing is that once would have been enough. Instead of clinging onto each of our voice mails, you should have dialed us all up individually and left us personal messages. It’s not too late to do it. Just make sure before you start recording to wait for the tone. When you’re finished leaving your message, hang up. Press pound for more options.

See how annoying it is?

Look, I know it’s not your fault. You’re probably stuck in some windowless cell and chained to a giant microphone. Your robot throat is probably bone dry and you get little to no time to recharge. You may think, because of this letter’s tone (stop recording- it’s a homonym), that I’m hoping you’ll power yourself down. I swear that’s not my intention. I just think you could use some reprogramming.

Your booming voice of guidance could be put to better use. If you were on standing by to help us through one of life’s more complicated junctures we could actually grow to appreciate you.

How about an automated “break up” speech? “Begin changing your Facebook relationship status at the tone. When you’re finished, pack up my things and place them outside of your house. Withhold belongings for more options.”

I apologize if this note made you feel like a broken tape deck, but I couldn’t sit here day after day listening to you embarrass yourself. If you wanna go for coffee some time, I’ve got some other career suggestions I’d like to go over with you. It’s urgent.


Sabrina Jalees

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