I don’t know anyone under 30 who has a home phone; their reliance on cell phones is complete. We do have a vestigial home phone – and voice mail. Problem is, we hardly check it. The people closest to us have our cell phone numbers so we seldom feel the need.
But we recently got burned. And our ears are still red from shame. After not doing it for at least a week, I checked the voice mail the day after Thanksgiving and found:
- Notification of the death of a distant relative
- A thank-you message for some food we’d dropped off to a neighbor
- An invitation to lunch
- A heartfelt invitation to Thanksgiving dinner
Yikes! My face flushed with shame. We quickly tried to play catch-up, with the requisite return calls, apologies, mea culpas, etc. And we promptly changed the greeting. It used to be: “Hi, we can’t take your call right now, but please leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.”
That was completely inaccurate–obviously. Here’s the new one: “Hi, you’ve reached the voice mail on our house line. You’re welcome to leave a message, but we seldom think to check this line. If your call’s important or time-sensitive, please try to reach us another way, too—just in case. Thanks!”
Notice I don’t leave a cell phone number–I’m reluctant to give that out too freely. As for reaching us “another way”? I’d love to get a singing telegram sometime. Also, carrier pigeons might have a certain charm. And I’m completely open to receiving a smoke signal. Your call.