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Bruce, Caroline

Fun with Answering Machines

Growing up, I always dreamed of having a telephone answering machine. I heard other people's boring messages, and was sure I could do better than that. Problem was, we had a party line. Party lines are not conducive to answering machines, unless the person who has the machine is willing to ride around the neighborhood, passing the message on to all the farms. So, no answering machine for Brucie. Which isn't to say that the concept wasn't tried. Our neighbor got it into his head that he should have an answering machine. His farm was on the same party line as ours. This created major headaches for all involved, and the advent of the private line circa 1991 was a major relief to all concerned. Of course, by this time, my parents had moved into town where there were no party lines, so that didn't help me any.

I was a contributor to the problem, though, in that while I didn't have an answering machine, I did have a modem: 300-baud beast that you had to manually connect once your phone dialed the number - just once step up from acoustic couplers.

It was 1990. I was boarding in a dank basement room here in Winnipeg while I worked at my summer job. But yay, I had my own phone line. So off to the store I went, and I bought my first answering machine! It used real cassettes, too, not these mini things, so I could record my outgoing message on my stereo. Talk about fun! I used this really, really bad rendition of the theme music to 2001: A Space Audacy. I don't know what that song is, no doubt the lovely FunBlindSinger would know. Anyway, this was an absolutely horrid rendition by a group called the Portsmouth Symphonia. I added a little diabolical laughter, some reverb, and all in all was darned proud of my efforts. My faith in the fruits of my labor was validated some weeks later when I got the following message on my machine: "Hi, this is a wrong number, but I loved your message!"

Through the years I tried other original messages: a standard greeting with the Dudley Doright theme in the background ("Hmmm, I bet that's Rod [my roommate] on the trumpet, right?"), a Valentine's Day message with a little ditty called Tapeworm of Love in the background (I won't quote what the wrong number caller on my machine said to that one), and others. One time I had a friend of mine record my outgoing message for me in the sultriest of voices: she sounded positively naked. This went over great, until my mom called me and, shall we say, voiced extreme displeasure over my choice of outgoing messages, insisting that I remove the outgoing message immediately. I did have the good sense to keep the tape. Oi, what fun, I absolutely love answering machines!

Comments

LOL Bruce. BTW this is Shannon from the Winamp list. I just had to say that I too have had a bit of fun with my answering machine messages. The one my grandmother liked, and would call it over and over to hear when we weren't home was where I shook a box of macaroni and cheese to sound like the wheels on a train track, my husband, referred to in my LJ as "The Man" blew a train whistle in the background and I said: "Hi, this is Shannon. "The Man" and I are chugging down the railroad tracks of life, but leave us a message and we'll call you back when we pull into our next station."
The other one I really liked was when I accidentally dialed a wrong number and got this message.
Husband: Sorry, but we are not home right now, right honey?
Wife: That's right honey.
Husband: So leave us a message and we'll call you back when we get home. Bye. Say bye honey.
Wife: Bye honey!
:)
Can I friend you? I promise I'll behave. *giggles*
Those are great. One time I had a message that I sung to "Bridge over Troubled Water":

You called me up on the phone,
I'm either busy or I'm not home.
Soon you'll hear a beep,
Oh, then it's time to speak,
I'll tell you what to do:
Leave your name, number and a message,
I'll get back to you.

One time, I can't remember what my outgoing message was at the time, my phone rang. I let it ring because I was busy. A few minutes later I checked the number, and found it was a carpet-cleaning company. So I didn't bother checking my voice mail, assuming that it was just a hang-up. About three minutes later the phone rang again, same number. Why would this carpet-cleaning company call me twice? I just let voicemail take over. Later I checked my messages. The first one was just a girl laughing. The second one was three or four girls laughing. Obviously, the girl who called me originally had told her friends they had to hear this.
Oh, and by all means, please friend me. Don't worry about behaving. No one else does.