Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

July 1999

Voice mail

Is there a person left in the world, who, when the phone rings, simply answers it?

Once again, I had a near berserk brush with the wonders of telephony.

Supposedly, I was given the real inside number of this joint but when I dialed, the pickup was a mechanical greeting inquiring whether I knew my party's extension.

I didn't

Then Mary the mechanical greeter wondered if I knew the name of the party I wished to speak to.

I did.

Press the first three letters of the last name and press the pound sign, I was instructed.

H=4; A=2, R=7 for Hart I pressed.

Instantly, I hear, You have reached Ms. Hassle. (Thats H=4; A=2; S=7 for Hassle, you see?) Im not at my desk right now so please leave a detailed message on my voice mail. (What do I leave for a message? Not 427-you, please have 427-her give me a growl.) If you need immediate assistance, press zero and the next available associate will handle your call.

Like Charlie Brown trying to kick a field goal, I pressed zero.

May I help you? a real-live, interactive, sentient being wanted to know.

Hey, I hope so, I began, spilling out everything about who I wished to speak with, about what, and how 427 could be Hbruskas extension as easily as Hart, Hassle or like that.

Ms. Hart is not in this office, she's in our New York office, shall I connect you?

I agreed.

Then I heard this mechanical voice asking if I knew the extension of the party I wanted to speak with.

I could hardly wait for the second option, when Mechanical Mary started her spiel on curtain number two, I pounced on it, mashing in 4-2-7.

Predictably, I got the voice-mail greeting for someone named Gapenski, which I neatly exited by pressing zero.

All of our associates are busy assisting other clients ..

I waited.

Finally, a real voice asked if it could help.

Efficiently as anything, I first asked for my party (the elusive Ms Hart) then waited for the inevitable transfer to her voice-mail.

Gee, Im sorry, we don't have anyone here by that name, I got instead.

Surely, you have a directory or something that will help you locate this person for me, I challenged. Literally I said, Look around! Inter-office phone book, computer help screen, somebody sitting next to you.

Oh, wow, here she is! She's in Utah!

No kidding. Where, Salt Lake?

No, Willies-town.

Really? Have you got the number?

802-879-7143

It was the number I tried before but what the heck, this was getting good.

Racing through the numbers: two because I knew her last name: 427# because thats the first three letters: and zero, because I didn't want to leave mail in someone else's pot, I got this real nice guy in Portland who said he picks up for Williston when they're in a meeting.

I assumed he was in Maine. Could have been Oregon, Iowa or Belize, I suppose.

You ever been to Portland, Belize?