You must be… (take your best guess)

Old school answering machine by aeminphilly on Flickr

I’ve been meaning to write (rant) about this for a while, but a friend’s WTF post over on FB about companies’ and people’s answering messages has re-inspired me.

These are the most common messages — from people who know me — that get left on my home answering machine:

“Hi, I guess you must be in the shower…” (It’s the middle of the day, I’m already showered, thanks.)

“Hi, I guess you must be asleep…” (It’s midmorning, I’ve been up for several hours.)

“Hello, I guess you must be eating dinner or something…” (Dinner? At 4 PM?)

“Hi, I guess you must be… out.” (Well, now, there’s a no-brainer.)

After getting one of these messages, what I sometimes fantasize about having as my outgoing message (other than Carl Kasell‘s voice) is something like, “Hi, I’m either out, in the shower, sleeping, eating dinner at 10 AM, picking my nose, or listening to you right now and not picking up. You just take your best guess from those possibilities and get back to me.”

Why do people feel the need to leave a guess as to your whereabouts and/or whatabouts? Why can’t they just leave a message? Preferably one with actual info in it rather than a guess or just some babble.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I don’t do it myself, and because I also have to listen to people do this in conversations, except they usually say “maybe” or “probably” more than “must be,” and they don’t usually feel the need to guess. I can say something as simple as, “She went to the store,” and get back something like, “Oh, she probably had to get there before it closed.” Well, yes. People do have to get to the store before it closes, if they want to buy anything and not just sit out there in the parking lot. Picking their noses. Or showering.

One and only one person is exempt from my freaking out over this because that person has Alzheimer’s — the fact that they did this all the time before they had Alzheimer’s is irrelevant now, they get a free pass.

None of the rest of you get a free pass.

Dexter in the Lunchroom

So over dinner the other night, Nitram was telling me stories about work. He misses Tim, who’s a real wiseass, and sounds like someone I’d like a lot, though I’ll never get to meet him now since he’s left for greener pastures.

“This guy Greg just does not stop talking, no matter what. I’m having a peaceful lunch, reading the paper, other people are having their own peaceful lunches — even Greg, for once — when Tim walks in and says, ‘Hey, Greg, tell us all about politics in New Jersey!’ and walks out! That bastard!”

Yes, I’d definitely like Tim.

“We’re all trying to eat and Greg’s forgotten about his lunch, he’s just going on and on and on — and no one’s listening! But that doesn’t make a difference to him, he just keeps going. Oh, I swear, I — if I was a serial killer, I’d, I’d… I’d kill him first!”

I burst out laughing. Nitram goes on about Greg and I can’t stop giggling. He gives me the what look, and I say, “That was really funny!”

“It was?”

“Yes! Did you make that up?”

“Make what up?”

“‘If I was a serial killer, I’d kill him first.'”

“I guess so, yeah. But it’s true.”

My mild-mannered, easygoing mate. He’s going to off some guy for talking too much in the canteen at work. Classic sociopath. Gotta love him.

chainsaw_massacre-16_smallWM

Image credit: LindaMacphersonPhotography.com

“There is no Spoon.”

This morning Nitram and I are stumbling round the kitchen in an early morning fog. He has the teaspoon out of my reach and looks to be done with it, so I say:

“Spoon.”

He’s laughing. “Spoon! Spoooooon.”

“What. Gimme the goddam spoon.”

He’s still laughing and I tell him he’s missed his cue.

“My what?”

“You know — you’re supposed to say. ‘There is no Spoon.”

“Why am I supposed to say that?”

“Cos in Dog Soldiers, after Spoon gets eaten by the werewolf — but before he gets eaten he’s in its face saying, ‘I hope I give you the shits—’ but after that, when they get back into the kitchen and Cooper asks, “Where’s Spoon?’ the sergeant answers, ‘There is no Spoon.'”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“How could you forget that movie! It was—” and I have to explain what seems like half the plot, while still trying to make my tea and get half-awake.

“Oh, okay. Okay…”

Christ on a crutch.

So tonight we’re talking on the phone and he starts teasing me about how I said “spoon” and I tease him back about missing his cue and he says, “Huh?”

I think my head is going to explode. “This is like déjà vu all over again, in Hell. I can see my life stretching before my eyes now: Your nose and ear hair will be eight inches long, you’ll have food all over your face, and I’ll be trying to figure out a final solution for both of us.”

“What! What?”

So I go through most of this morning’s conversation. Again. The only excuse Nitram can come up with is “but I was sleepy too.”

“Yeah, and I’ll have a good excuse when the police get here. ‘Oh, officer, he choked on his spoon.'”

I’ll just have to make sure there is a spoon.