Whenever I’m feeling old (AKA any given day), I like knowing that I can phone myself at the office, let it go to voicemail and hear the youthful tones of myself from 13 years ago telling strangers that I will most certainly phone them back as soon as possible, and then telling them all over again in French.
I recorded that message in 2005 (when I was still in my glorious, barely creased thirties), and perhaps it was the lingering trauma of trying to get that one good take (see the aforementioned “French”) or simply laziness or perhaps a sort of auditory hoarding, but I have never summoned the wherewithal to update it.
Even when my job title changed last year, I hung onto the message, now officially obsolete. But, honestly, was anyone who was looking for the director of communications really going to hang up because the message was instead from the communications coordinator, even a surprisingly youthful sounding one? If my title had changed from “communications coordinator” to “vision navigator,” then perhaps I’d have cause. I will never be called a “vision navigator.” No one should be.
But this week, our office phones are all being replaced, and my voicemail is the least of my concerns.
The new phones are running not on good old Bell lines but over the internet. I don’t know how that works either but I expect it won’t be long before I’m receiving phone calls from Single Women Looking For Love In Your Area.
That also means our IT Department is involved. I love my IT people. They help me out all the time, and I feel IT and the Communications Department have a lot in common — people aren’t quite sure what we do but they want us to do it right away.
But it’s IT. IT people see the world with greater complexity than you and me. It’s like those lines of streaming code in The Matrix: to IT people, that’s like reading the Sunday funnies. And then they laugh and pass it to you and say, “Get it?” Actually, no, they assume you get it, even though you don’t even know what “it” is.
So when IT’s involved, I worry that it will be overwhelming. There have already been four emails from IT about the new phone, plus one earlier warning us the new phones were coming. Each email has instructions and/or a link to further instructions. There’s also a sheet of instructions on my desk along with a thin blue strip of paper with instructions on how to call 911 that I’m not sure what to do with. Maybe it’s in the instructions. I have not got around to reading any of this yet, which really I can’t blame IT for, but I’ll try.
I much prefer staring at the phone. Wondering about the phone. Imagining what kind of trouble I’ll have with the phone. Whether I’ll receive calls from Nigerian princes looking to move money out of the country on the phone. Worrying my voicemail will sound 13 years older on the phone and that will freak out the people who regularly leave me messages on the phone (AKA no one).
It’s an impressive phone, with a slew of buttons to ignore, far more than the buttons I ignored on the old phone.
For example, there is a column of eight lights down the side. The top one is lit green, then three dark, three more lit, and one last dark one. If I light up all eight, do I get an extra life? Or does it mean I’ve run out of Internet toner?
Why are there directional arrows on my phone? Can I drive it around my desk? Is it also a drone? I want a drone! All the cool kids are droning.
One of the buttons has a little book on it. Will my phone read to me? That’s nice.
I’m sure the instructions, once I get around to reading them, are completely reasonable and easily comprehensible, even to someone who is 13 years older than he used to be.
But still I have to ask myself: will I record a voicemail? Yes, of course I will. But will I really? Yes. Really?
This is a smart phone (not a Smartphone); it has a generic voicemail message that I’m sure will get me through many, many weeks of procrastination. But I really will get around to recording it (really). And if I do get in a jam, I’m sure IT will help me out.
Unless they read this first.