“Please, Leave, A, Message, After, the Tone…”


I listened to my generic factory-installed answering machine greeting the other day and thought, “Hmph. That really sucks.”

It’s a digitized male voice that blathers, “Please, leave, a, message, after, the tone.” He’s the same guy that sputters out commands when navigating through the menu:

“The, time, is, eight, forty-five, pee, em. Press, OK, to, set, the time.” And he does pause after virtually every word.

It took me back to my younger days when I had a Sanyo dual-cassette deck jambox and a Phone-Mate answering machine. (Mine were similar to those shown in the links.)

With those two archaic devices, I was able to produce and edit what I still consider my best greetings ever. But don’t ask where they are—I never thought to save them.

I’d first come up with an idea, script it out, and then record what I needed off the TV, radio, cassette, VHS tape—whichever source I required. According to the script’s dialogue, some minor editing may have been involved.

Once I got what I wanted, I’d sit in front of the answering machine with script in hand, hit “record” on the machine, read the script and play my edited cassette when needed into the microphone. I might have also had some music in the background on top of all that. Depending on if I screwed up during the reading, if I missed my cue on the playback or simply wasn’t satisfied with the results, it could take me hours to record a simple, time-limited 30-second greeting.

Yes, it took quite a lot of work to get what I believed was something worthy of my approval.

Flash-forward to 2007 when just about anything I can think of is easily accessible through the Internet, already in my possession or pre-installed on my PC, the only piece of equipment I’d probably need to produce something far superior to my ancient masterpieces–and in a fraction the time it used to take me.

So can someone please tell me again why my current answering machine greeting sucks?

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