The Desk doesn't talk much. In fact, it reads and writes more than it talks. Most of the time. Unless the subject under verbal discussion is religion, politics, or maybe sports, and then it comes to the point and states its ideas shortly. Sometimes too shortly.
It doesn't chit-chat. And No it does Not want to hear the story about your cat and a box of diapers.
Some people take the Desk as unfriendly, and to them, it says, "So don't talk to it."
The Desk talks to machines even less.
But in its day job it has to. It is forced to.
And to leave these messages it has to listen to the messages recorded by those whom it is trying to contact.
Oh, mercy does it have to listen to them.
And thereby comes the rub.
Some people tell their life story to their answering machine to repeat to every caller. Some start their message with 'Hello' and then a pause so you begin to speak, then the rest of the message plays and you get to feel stupid. Others tell you everything except what office or whom in that office you have reached.
"And have a great day." -Oh, Please.
The Desk has listened to how excited somebody was to be out on vacation. It has been blessed by answering machines. And encouraged to quit drinking and driving by others.
Other machines have gone into depth as to how much your call means to it, then you get the cheerful announcement that the voice-mailbox is full.
One outfit has somebody reading a laundry list of other possible contact names and numbers and never bothers to tell you who on that list you've gotten through to.
To all of which the Desk is as likely as not to hang up on before it leaves any message.
Part of this reason is that, in the Desk's opinion, it sounds like a wino when it leaves a message.
If it absolutely has to leave a voice mail, it delivers it in quick clipped words covering Sgt. Friday's 'Just the facts, ma'am' with return number and name. Period.
It doesn't repeat the entire message with its name and number two or three times. It does not remark about the weather or how long it has worked for this agency. It doesn't try to leave things in singsong style or wax poetic. And it doesn't bless anybody either.
All of which have been left on the Desk's day job voice mail.
One of which was this morning. Which prompted this study of the matter.
The message was, as timed by the handy dandy digital timer on the Desk's desk phone was fifty-one seconds long.
Almost a minute from her "This is So'n'so" to the machine's voice saying 'end of message'.
And the lady never actually said the business matter she wanted to discuss.
The voice mail message was about: Why she had been out of the office yesterday afternoon. Yes, she did know it was after five and we closed at four thirty. She would have called earlier but she was in a meeting. And, if she got a chance she'd try to call the Desk sometime tomorrow morning.
But she never even gave a minimal clue as to what prompted her call anywhere in it. The Desk listened to it twice.
At least with her name and agency the Desk was able to dig through some recent repair calls and work orders and figure out what she might be calling about. Ten minutes of sifting paperwork which could have been avoided if she had just said "I need to talk about our whateveritis."
Even if she didn't know what the problem was, she could have said that.
There are classes given through various Customer Service Training offices about how to record a voice mail outgoing message, and how to leave a message on somebody's machine.
They tell you how fast or slow to talk. What information to include, and what to leave out. How long the total should be, and how to phrase your call back number and time you will be available.
None of it includes reminders to donate blood or to make sure you get out to vote. Unless, of course, you are calling the blood bank or the elections office.
Oh, for the record, the Desk did get blessed by one machine that it didn't think was inappropriate. Of course it was for a nearby Archdiocese instead of a small, obscure state office.
But there is nothing the Desk can do about any of it.
And now its Day Job Boss wants it to record something more than a cryptic 'name and job' message on its own voice mail.
Maybe the Desk should talk about the weather, and the ugly color of the cubical walls around here.