Peter Costa: The real message behind the beep

Peter Costa

I think it would be great if people’s voice mail messages honestly stated why their owners couldn’t come to the phone.

“This is Bill of Cul-de-sac Real Estate. I’m away from my desk in Las Vegas. I thought I would vacation here for a few days and see whether I could double the money I am holding for you in escrow. If this is urgent, call my assistant, Sandy, at 555-1313.”

“Hi, this is Mary. I’m either on my other line or doing a line. Please don’t leave me a message. They’re all so boring anyway.”

“This is Dr. Carditis. If you are calling for test results, press 1; if you are calling about an insurance problem, press 2; if you are calling to increase the dosage of Oxycontin, hang up and make do with what you have.”

“Hello, you’ve reached Sam. Because this is tax season, I cannot come to the phone for any reason. I can be reached via e-mail, however, although we state that e-mail is confidential and protected by federal tax laws, it is traceable, so be careful.”

“Hi. This is Ginger. I am either at an audition or practicing for one downtown. If you are an agent or talent scout, leave your name and phone number at the beep. Once I have finished Googling you, I may return your call.”

“Hello, you’ve reached the help desk in Mumbai where it is always 3 o’clock in the morning. We all work in windowless rooms. Please reboot your computer and make sure your cable modem is working before drilling deeper into this phone mail menu. If your problem is software-related, we cannot help you. If it is hardware related, the warranty has expired and you will need to buy a new computer. If you keep getting error messages then you may need to reload your operating system. We can do this remotely for $185 American.”

“This is Andy, the service manager. Vehicles are ready for pickup by 5 p.m. Please bring a cashier’s check for $1,286. This will cover the cost for most of our non-foreign car tune-ups. If the cost is less, you will be credited for future work. In the meantime, we plan to bank the money you give us and spend the interest earned on a new bass boat.”

“You’ve reached the Don Corelone family. First, this had better be a life-or-death situation. If Don Corleone is called to the phone and you are wasting his time with a trivial problem, you had better like sleeping with dead horses. Also, remember, if you are asking for a favor, some day, you may get a call and you may have to reciprocate a favor – no questions asked. OK, speak slowly and calmly after the beep. It could be the last sound you ever hear.”