Do Me a Favor, Get an Answering Machine

rotary dial phoneTo everyone who has signed up for caller ID to avoid getting an answering machine, a piece of advice: it doesn’t work.

At least six or seven times a week, a call goes out across the building here at the Democrat: “If you’ve called So-and-So please pick up line 5. They said this number showed up on their caller ID.”

Apparently, caller ID has created a world of people too anxious to let a call pass them by.

It has its uses – especially combined with call waiting, when you aren’t sure if you really need to break the connection with the first caller in favor of the second.

Working from home, I depend on the two to work in concert to let me know when I can blab away to a friend and when I need to cut things short and get to work. And when I’m in the midst of an important, work-related call, it lets me know my mother is trying to get ahold of me.

When a strange number comes up on the caller ID, the fact that I ignore it means it’s doing its job.

Also doing its job?

My answering machine, which lets “normal” callers with those strange numbers get ahold of me. If I’m home, and I hear the call, I might even answer right then and there.

I’ve been on the other end of that phone.

I know, I sound cranky. But I’ve had my blonde moments (which I can say, thanks to a tow-headed childhood).

I’ve called the wrong number more than once. I’ve called the newspaper – from the phone at my desk upstairs – when I was off in la-la-land. I’ve called the doctor’s office when I meant to call the State Police barracks and vice versa – thanks to numbers that are just one digit apart.
If I’m lucky, I realize my mistake before I’ve bothered someone. I hang up.

I’ve also called people, only to realize they aren’t available, and hung up without a word. I needed them right then, but in an hour that call won’t make a difference – so there’s no sense leaving a message and making them call me back.

Oh, but they will.

If they’re one of those people who scrolls through the caller ID looking for something to do when they get home, they’ll hop on the phone.
And I’ll have to tell them, no, sorry, you just wasted your time.

Or they could just get an answering machine . . .


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Image via aussiegall/Flickr


  1. Loved your piggy bank item on Babble. I write for them too, so I thought I’d check out your blog. If you are feeling lucky, I’ve got two I am running this month:Paper Shouts $50 GC an adorable art backpack from Little Jet Set: in touch!

  2. Ok, I have to admit I may sometimes be one of those people who gets home an automatically checks the caller ID, but usually go to the answering machine nexted to see if those people who called left a message. And if they didn’t I usually call them anyway, just to see if they still needed me for something. I do agree that everyone should own an answering machine.

  3. come on, but it’s so hard to resist! yes, most of the time it’s a wrong number or a telemarketer, but don’t you just HAVE to know who it is?? The worst is the “unknown” number. So mysterious! And you can’t even call them back later…

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