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Voice Mail Taunts Me

I am certain that leaving a proper voice mail message is a gift. It is a gift I unhappily do not have. Usually I am all ramped up for a “real” person to answer, so when I get the voice mail, I freeze in my tracks like I have been stunned with a stun-gun.

How does one deal with that? I seem to attempt to leave my message but can’t figure out how to end it—so I ramble on and on and on, finally ending up with something nervously stated like, “Um, yeah, I look forward to hearing for you.” I hang up and want to go bang my head on a wall.

I do have a pet peeve about voice mail. Those who leave a greeting that begins with “Hello!” and then a pause. Yes, a pause just long enough for us to think you actually answered the phone, so we begin talking to you just in time to hear the rest of your greeting. We feel like idiots. Please change that greeting or I’ll be forced to find you and kick you in the shins.

Seriously, I would never kick someone but you cannot believe how frustrating that is. For those of us that are, like me, “voice-mail challenged,” there is nothing more astoundingly bizarre than that greeting on a voice mail. In some way, that is the equivalent to all caps on an internet message. You are screaming “GOT YOU!” and people hate that.

The only thing worse is leaving a voice mail for someone I don’t know very well. The other day I left a message inquiring about a job interview. I was nervous already and not wanting to push the envelope of good business sense. I had taken about an hour to get up the nerve to make the call—without even considering what I may do if I got a voice mail. That was a vital mistake.

There can’t be anything worse than being nervous and rambling nonsense—nervously laughing like some idiot—and trying to gain control of what is rapidly becoming a train wreck. I was faced with the fact that I was not offered a selection or option to delete / review/change my message which I left. Afterward I sat there and stared into space thinking, “What have I just done?”

I couldn’t sleep that night because I was obsessing over it. I couldn’t eat the next day because I was overwhelmed with a feeling of just ridiculous stupidity. I am an adult with twenty years of experience, but I can’t leave a proper voice mail?

I know the fact that my job of twenty years always had me speaking to real people constantly. I mean, you don’t give a doctor bad test results on a voice mail; you actually talk to them in person just as their patients are going to expect to get that same information. I just never had to hone voice mail skills until now.

Finally, I resorted to an email. I wrote her the “Thank You” note which recruiters tell us is so vital, carefully wording it to represent the “professional me” and then decided to just be honest about the flubbed voice mail and asked her to consider my nervousness as a compliment.

Whew, I finally thought I might be able to sleep, except now I was laying in bed wondering if I did spell check before I sent it. What if I didn’t? This one voice mail had become a mechanism of terror and obsession. I got up, turned on my computer and waited ... and waited ... and finally “Why did my computer pick this particular time to de-frag?”

Exhausted and frustrated, I went in and used my husband’s computer. I managed to get to my “sent” mail and checked it with spell check. No mistakes. Yippeee ... now I can sleep. At least I tried. Now I am wondering if I should have ignored the whole voice mail fiasco and pretend it didn’t happen. I can’t though.

I can’t because it is taunting me.