This came in a while back, and I had forgotten about it until now. But a post by Judge Kopf reminded me of a telephone etiquette issue that has long bothered me, which in turn made me think of monumental telephone gaffes. Gary Ostrow, who doesn’t really like me for having pointed out that he has issues, is one such gaffe.
This gives rise to a few modern day telephone rules:
1. There is this technological marvel called “caller ID.” When you call, the person you are calling can see who it is (or see that you’ve concealed your identity), and decide whether to answer or not. If a receptionist sits between the telephone and the person to whom the call is directed, caller ID makes it remarkably easy to yell out, “let it go to voicemail.” It’s like magic.
2. Voicemail allows a person to record a message. What’s on the message is left to the discretion of the caller. If one is inclined to leave a particularly foolish message, they should bear in mind that it can be played over and over, and played for other than the intended recipient. It’s like magic.
3. The purpose of a message is usually to entice a person to return a call. Some messages do so well. Some, less well. Some, not at all. If the message suggests to the recipient that there is no benefit whatsoever to calling back, the chances of his doing so are remarkably decreased. As a corollary, obsession with another person’s genitalia tends not to be a particularly strong enticement to return a phone call regardless of all other factors. It’s really not magic.
4. The internet allows us to share the things we learn with others, so that they don’t make foolish mistakes. Of course, some people never learn, no matter what, but that can’t be helped.