Friday, May 9, 2008

please leave a message after the tone

Niobe dials friend's phone number. Phone rings. Niobe hears the following:

Recorded voice: You know, you pick the worst times to call. We are in the middle of holding up a bank right now, I got my mask on, I can barely talk, the police is outside. All I can say is that this better be very important. And it better be involving some money.
Niobe hangs up without leaving a message.

Now, given my cultural illiteracy, this may well be some reference that I'm just not getting. In any case, I'm pretty sure it wasn't this woman, because it looks like she's already been caught and sentenced to twelve years in prison. (but not before she spent $2000 of her bank robbery proceeds on a chihuahua puppy that she named Capone).

What’s the strangest or most annoying recorded phone greeting you’ve ever heard?


The Nanny said...

Nanny dials friend's phone number. Phone rings. Nanny hears the following:

Nanny: Hey, do you know what you guys are doing tomorrow night?
Friend: It's great to hear from you.
Nanny: ...It's great to hear from you too?
Friend: So what's up?
Nanny: Oh, not much, just trying to figure out weekend plans. Life is so busy right now. You wouldn't beli--
Friend: HA HA, GOTCHA. You were talking to my voicemail, right? LEAVE A MESSAGE AT THE BEEP!
Nanny: *silence*

THEN I realized that I had, indeed, been talking to her voicemail message. She had set it up like that purposefully.

The worst part? I fell for it again several days later.

Aurelia said...

Can't think of a damn thing right now--but thanks for the laughs!

Anonymous said...

There was a phase when I ran into several people who used that section of "Oh Superman", Laurie Anderson.

Hi, I'm not home right now
But if you would like to leave a message
Just start talking at the sound of the tone

Oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

beagle said...

I guess I don't know any clever people IRL.

A friend of mine is into small town theatre and she does musical type show tunes on her machine. I count that one as strange.

Under annoying I file those people who record their lisping three year old because they are so sure it's the cutest thing ever.

For the record, I found the latter annoying long before I became a bitter childless woman.

Magpie said...

I like to answer the phone, perkily, with "Office of Management and Budget" or "Department of Chaos and Reconstruction". It confuses people.

But those are not recorded messages.

Elizabeth said...

1) most annoying: a college-aged tutor I supervised, in a creepy voice - "This is L..., princess of darkness." Not clever, not funny, and definitely not very professional. What if the teacher or parent called her and got that message? Not cool.

2) most confusing: freshman year in college, I switched rooms midway through the year. My grandma called my old phone number and heard: "This is J---, I don't know where K--- is, the last I saw she was getting on the back of a motorcycle with some guy in tattoos" etc. Poor grandma had no idea what was going on and freaked out.

3) Generally, I hate the ones that say "you've reached the home of [husband], [wife], and [kids]..." Who's going to be leaving a message for a 6-month-old?

Furrow said...

Some of our regular callers starting getting irritated when we let the robotic generic message stand in for months after a power outage wiped out our own bland, standard message.

A friend of mine leaves time-sensitive messages on her cellphone voicemail for months after they are relevant. "If you're calling about the Christmas party, we've moved it to Beth's house" is what you'll get in April.

I also really, really hate super long informative messages on business phones that don't give you an option to skip straight to the beep.

Those aren't botched attempts at cleverness, which is what you were looking for, but they still annoy me.

thailandchani said...

The worst voicemail message I ever heard is one that had Christmas music playing in the middle of summer... and the message "It's Christmas all year long!" She then went on to tell me to leave a message and tell her why she should return the call.

I hung up. My internal reaction was "eff you!"


CLC said...

I hate when you call someone's house and the answering machine has a little kid who can barely speak and you can hear the parent trying to tell them what to say and it takes minutes just to say we are not here. This has always annoyed me to no end, not just since I lost my baby. I mean kids learning to speak are cute, but listening to the recorded message is only something that the parents actually enjoy. I don't get parents who don't get that.

Aunt Becky said...

Aunt Becky checks voicemail.

(static, static, static)

"Yoooooooooooouuuuuu Biiiiiiiiiittccchh!"

Is it weird to tell you that I was flattered?

christina(apronstrings) said...

hahahahahhaha. that is so funny.

Eva said...

I was once calling a stranger back about something on Craigslist. First some really staticky, unidentifiable music plays, and then she goes into this whole, bored-sounding speech about how she's not a player, and if you want something from her you have to give something back, blah blah blah, went on FOREVER, and THEN some more incomprehensible, distant, crappy music, and I just got tired of waiting so I hung up.

Awake said...

I had several clients who had similar voicemail messages where it sounded like they were answering the phone, but it was just their message. Annoying.

Clementine said...

These recordings aren't strange or annoying, but they are hilarious:

1. The Little Mermaid phonemail recording on episode 203 of "This American Life"--you can hear it free on their website (

2. The recordings from her mom on the CD "Amy's Answering Machine" by Amy Borowsky.

So this comment reveals that I am a complete public radio nerd, but whatever. If you haven't heard these recordings, treat yourself!

Elizabeth said...

Any very long message is annoying. One of my friends recorded a long quote from Shakespeare that includes a pun on her own name; it was cute the first time, but sometimes I hang up before leaving a message b/c I get too impatient to listen to the whole thing.

Maggie said...

Oh my gosh, that is funny! It is also annoying.

The most annoying message was the one my parents had FOR YEARS. I was so scarred by it that I still remember it. My two sisters and I all had to take turns saying "I'll get it" and then my mom said "while we fight about who gets it, please leave a message". Ugh! Can you say DORKY!!

No wonder I'm such a nut case....

Julia said...

I've got nothing. But I have to admit to chuckling as I read the post. Of course, I didn't have to listen to it when I called, probably to say something useful.

Kymberli said...

I've given you an award. You'll have to check my blog to see it!

I once called a student's parent's cell phone and I heard, "Hi, this is so-and-so. If you're friend or family, please leave a message at the tone. If you're a bill collector, please call me back at 1-800-I-DON'T-GIVE-A-$HIT. Thanks, and have a nice day." Classic.

Lori said...

Really? That was really a message??

How bizarre... I don't have anything that good.

Antigone said...

My own. Last time I ever allow my husband to record our voicemail greeting.

thirtysomething said...

I hate the ones where a person says "Hello"...then a long pause, then the message, so the caller just starts talking and then realizes that it is a recording.

Monica said...

I hate it when I call the number of a student who has been disruptive in my class and the messaage is loud gansta rap about some pimp slappin' his Ho. Yeah, and I wonder why their child is disruptive.

I also hate it when people tell me to have a "blessed day". I want to leave a "blessed message" for them. But I don't.

Clarabella said...

I once recorded my voicemail message in German, just for kicks. All of my non-German speaking friends (most of them) and my non-German speaking mother were not amused.

Anonymous said...

I hate being instructed to "Leave a message at the beep". I know what to do with the beep after all these years!

painted maypole said...

wow, that's funny.

in college we very briefly had a message that was something about our slumlord, ahem, I mean landlord, and I don't remember how it went, except that it was wildly inappropriate and somewhat violent, and we only left it on for a few hours, out of fear that the landlord might actually call

although I am notorious for leaving long messages, I keep our outgoing message short and to the point... no one wants to listen to a long message over and over every time they call

Tash said...

Dang, messages and voicemail? Can't think of anything. Ask me sometime about working at planned parenthood one summer and the people who called . . THOSE were funny.

TJ said...

My uncle used to create the funniest messages on his answering machine. The whole family would go around reminding each other to call him to hear the new message.

One hot hot summer is was something like "hhhhhiiiii, this is ed, can't come to the phone because I'm dying of heat stroke" only funnier, I guess. The other I remember is the message was picked up by the fridge and/or the toaster, because Ed was passed out.

What I really hate are those ringback tones. As I supervisor, I found it very unprofessional to blast sexist/violent music to someone calling you, because it could be the unit commander, for crying out loud.

I also hate my own message, the standard one that takes ages to get to the point of letting people leave a message. I hate my voice, though, so I let them live with it.

ALM said...

I hope this isn't too inappropriate to post... but one time I called the nephew of a client of mine & the message said:

"I can't come to the phone right now. I'm getting a b*** j** (I'm so non-prudish I can't even write it out!). I'll call you back when I'm done."


I had to hang up. COuldn't leave a message. When I finally spoke to the man I mentioned how I found the message to be a bit -- off - he said "well, if it's good enough for our President..." Huh?

He has since stuck his aunt in a nursing home & is probably taking all her money...

Break Up SMS Messages said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .....Can't stop laughing...Reallly funny.

Anonymous said...

I once called and...

You know what this is, you know what to do, you know when to do it - so do it!

e.darcy said...

I dont have any clever or funny ones about answering machines, (only that my brother is the biggest loser and thinks he is so hilarious with the ones he records) but--i cannot get over the fact that when my mom answered the phone to a (cantthinkofwhattheyarecalled!!) sales person. whatever. she farted on the phone!!
I just imagine how the person on the other end felt... did they laugh, were they disgusted? what happened!!