Some Really Basic Basics

Now, these are some elementary matters. I know that. And I know, as well, that you are perfectly familiar with these things, and do not need a refresher. But the nicest people in the world sometimes have clueless friends. If you could just sort of pass this information along, they may pass these things along to THEIR clueless friends and, little by little, we may have achieved just one wee step along the road to a better world.

Let’s start with the first point of contact for some people: my phone message,

Yes, that is Uncle Blogsy’s voice which rolls along for, actually, longer than it takes to read one of these columns. (If you feel you must hear this message, please call between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M. Otherwise I might answer and spoil the whole show for you.)

First of all, no, you should not have to listen to the entire message. On most phones you can press 1 at any time in the message to skip the message. Unfortunately, this leads many people into a trap. I have had a spate of calls lately—from more than one caller—from people who have no idea what to do after the beep.

This is the point at which you talk. The beep has hit the ball into your court and it’s all up to you now.  I really thought this was self-evident, but I frequently push doors marked PULL, myself. Let me repeat: after the beep, you may leave your message. I’ve had more messages this month which consist of a long pause and then “Hello? Are you there?” or “Jasper, I don’t know what to do next!” and even “I want to leave a message, but it’s silent!”

Try not to panic, friends. Even Uncle Blogsy can’t attack you over the phone. And this is voicemail, after all: it’s not like the olden days when you would have been using up all the tape on my machine while you pondered your next move. Just speak into the phone as if you were speaking to a rational human being. If necessary, I have friends who can translate.

Moving on to deeper matters, I had deliveries on the same day from a woman who said, “I know you hate books in bags, but it was all I had” and a man who apologized, “I know you hate to get books in boxes, but I didn’t have enough bags.” Let me make this clear to all: I hate neither bags nor boxes. There are certain bags and boxes I dislike intensely (if you insist on using old leaf bags, could you at least dump all last year’s leaves out of them first? Yes, and the leaves from the year before that) but I do not hate the entire species of either.

Coming between those deliveries was a couple who said, “We knew you don’t like paperbacks, so we sent those to recycling.”

I don’t know what it is: you write three pages every week whining and complaining, and all of a sudden, you get a reputation for not liking things. I DO like books, and records, and bags, and boxes, and even that case of obsolete microfiche somebody gave me. I do NOT hate these things.

People, now: that may be a different story. But I’ll think it over while I see if they learn to use voicemail. (And if any of them want to buy microfiche.)

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