Monday, June 13, 2011

Slow That Number Down

Deb: Slow that number down please. My brain is not a computer.

Think of this blog-post today as a public service announcement for all of you who have ever been victims of the rapid-fire phone number message.

You know what I’m talking about. The “Hi, this is Dr. Asure’s office confirming your appointment. Please call us back to confirm at 4175559041.” And they proceed to rhyme off the number faster than the speed of light.

I have found myself on the receiving end of these number sprinters on many occasions and I can’t tell you how it annoys me to take time out of my busy day to have to listen to the message eight or nine times, each time picking up just one more number.

And when these people, these rushers of numbers, are on the receiving end of said messages, do they ever think, “Hey, wait a sec, I do that! I should stop.”

Clearly they don’t. And yet it is such a simple thing to fix really, isn’t it?

Beep ... Hi this is Deb McGrath calling. Please call me back at  4...1...7...5...5...5...6...1...6...1.

That number again... 4...1...7...5...5...5...6...1...6...1

And done. Solved.

I am quite confident that now that I have spoken up, this will never happen to me again. I am sure that word of this menace will now spread like wildfire, the plague, or a congressman exposing himself.

Boy, when I rule the world...

Barbara: Ha, Deb! I hope you friggin’ rule the world soon because this menace has terrorized me more times than I can say. And is often brandished by a person who also speed-mumbles their name, leaving me with not only a call-back number I must decipher, but a caller I must fake-ask for (“Yes, I’m returning (mumble) Fafafa’s call.").

Thanks, Deb, for taking on this most noble cause. Spread the word everyone: Citizens for clear phone messages!


  1. Manitoba only has one area code right now so we at least only have to decifer 7 numbers instead of 10.

    I once did telephone support previously and getting credit card numbers or the spelling on a name was horrible. Some people have absolutly no rythm to long numbers or are completly unable to use a phonetic alphabet. I'm sorry but Knife does not start with N.

  2. Loved this. I usually try to decipher once and then I am finished except for the doctor's office that keeps calling another person on my phone and telling me/she that she needs a followup. I have called back twice and there is no one with the name the person leaves so I finally figured Mrs. Murphy please make a follow up appointed with Dr. no name and the assistant Danielle who apparently doesn't exist at the number you left me.

  3. Erin that is so funny. You are right. Knife doesn't start with N. And phonetic doesn't start with an F. :-)
    Madge That is so funny. I am constantly phoning numbers back to tell them that they reached the wrong person. I always worry that the person intended will miss an important appt!

  4. Love it! I've always been aware of this, mostly because I'm dyslexic and numbers have always been my biggest challenge. As a result, I'm careful when giving out a number to say it slowly and clearly so that the person on the other end can get it and I'm certainly not afraid to ask someone to repeat a number until I get it right. Messages on machines are awful.
    My hubby is one of those people who, if he has to leave a message, doesn't usually say who he is and rattles off the numbers quickly. I'm glad I don't have to be on the receiving end of his messages.
    Secretaries and receptionist should have some sort of training in this kind of stuff: How To Leave a Phone Message 101.

  5. This is one of my pet hates!
    We have 8 digit phone numbers and I always get something wrong..
    Numbers and I were never the best of friends anyway and being dyscalculic doesn't help either.

    I hope I'm making sense - I'm a Scandinavian trying my best to keep my language skills intact.

  6. Ummm, Deb, please check your email. There might be an eensy weensy little problem.

    Sorry. *cringes*

    Love and hugs,

  7. Molly perhaps you can get your lovely husband to read today's blog lol? And yes, phone message 101 would be great. Or even, dialing for dummies!
    Helle I am glad to be joined in the pet hates. And your English is just great. Rigel I did check your email and you are 100% right. We are working on the change right now. Thanks for the help. I don't know how I could have been so stupid???

  8. *blinks at Deb* You're not stupid. You just don't think in devious ways. ;)

  9. Deb - I so agree with you. If you have call display you can see the number thank goodness. But if you don't or it is a private number that they are reciting, you have to press play over and over again. ARRGGGHH

  10. Linda, I was just saying that to someone -- the worst mumblers are always always calling from "private" lines, so call display doesn't work!!

  11. Several years ago when my son was a toddler, I put up a sign on a bulletin board at a local college because there was a 2 afternoons a week class I hoped to take and I was trying to recruit a responsible student who was on campus but didn't have a class during that time period to watch my son for that 3 hours a week. The respondents who couldn't speak their names and phone numbers clearly into my answering machine just automatically weeded themselves out of the pool of potential babysitters. Their poor message leaving skills cost them money.

  12. Yes Linda so true. And so many numbers do have the privacy issue. But even if they don't I think why leave a number if I have to then look it up on the phone? Right?

  13. We have so many people call our house or my cell phone and leave messages with numbers that they want us to call back. The thing that bugs me the most though is when they call my cell phone and leave messages like that. I mean if they call my house phone that is one thing, but not my personal cell phone.. I have a bad mind as it is then they want me to try and remember so many numeber to call back. Yeah right. What happen to people tell numbers to people face to faces.


  14. I have a pet peeve closely tied to poorly left messages. Mine is when someone doesn't leave a message. They tell me, "Well, I knew you'd see my number on your cell phone and know I'd called and you'd call me back." And, I'm like, "But, if you'd leave a message, I'd know a) do you need me to call you back or were you just calling to chat and b) if there's a particular reason you were calling, is it something I could've already been working on before getting back up with you?"

    For example, if you are calling to ask me if I'm going to a meeting on Tuesday, I can just leave you voice mail right back saying yes or no rather than playing incessant phone tag with you.

    Or, if you were calling because you needed me to bring cookies for a class party, leave a message to that effect. Because, I guarantee if you if I have to play phone tag with you after you called in the morning and I don't get up with you till evening and I've already done my grocery shopping, the answer's gonna be no. Had you left a message that morning, it'd be all taken care of.

    My solution? Except for my best friend R (because we've already got a different arrangement put in place), I don't call back unless there's a message. "But, you saw my number in your phone, right?" isn't good enough, esp. when there may be a string of 11 different phone numbers in there waiting. Leave a message. Tell me what you need. I'll get back to you. Don't leave a message? You must not have needed something and have just been calling to chitchat. Plain and simple.

    I hate, hate, hate playing phone tag trying to catch someone for a live conversation over something tiny that wasn't worth the hassle. If the information can be handled via voice mail, handle it that way.

  15. This is the daily struggle that people who are hard of hearing have to deal with. The fast speech. The mumbling. Phones. The shouting. The soft spoken word... The best thing is to have a sense of humour about it.

    Some members of the hard of hearing group have this saying, "I'm not hard of hearing. I'm just a little slow in understanding."

  16. jls123 I didn't even think what it must be like to be hard of hearing. That is a whole new angle on it. I love the quote. Thanks.

  17. I'm a bit like Rigel in that if someone calls me but doesn't leave a message, I will not call them back. The only exceptions to that rule are my mom and dad. But then, I'm not really a phone person. I do have a cell phone, but half the time it doesn't even get turned on. I use said phone as seldom as possible, and the conversations rarely ever exceed 4 or 5 minutes (except for mom and dad). And talking to people I don't know? Not unless my very life depends on it, and even then it's cause for an anxiety attack. Perhaps I'm just odd, but I could happily live the rest of my life without hearing a ring from the telephone...

  18. And yes, Deb, I too hate those people that want to mumble their number at the speed of light. It's utterly ridiculous! My rule? If I can't understand the number the first time, then I'm not calling them back. Because if they really wanted me to call them back, they would have made themselves a lot more clear in the first place.

  19. April, if you are odd, then so am I. Whenever the phone rings, it receives a cold, hard glare. I hate the phone with a passion. Mostly because of my voice problems and the lack of visual cues makes it very hard for me to be heard/understood and it's always such a drama... these days, the phone answering duties go to everyone else haha.

    But phone messages are a pain at the best of times, but my beef is with unclear cellphone voicemail messages like Lyndsie mentioned, because everytime I check my voicemail, it costs me. So if I can't understand the message and have to listen to a message over and over again, it's costing me each time I re-listen to the message. I don't know if it's like that elsewhere, but it is in NZ, and everyone here knows it. So to me, leaving an unclear message on a cellphone is just plain rude.

  20. I've had a few messages that I had been waiting for and the callback # was (617) 525-64beeeeeep!! Or the person will start talking while the machine is still talking and I'm left with a phone number, but no idea who it's from.
    I guess there's no winning either way. :)



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.