April 20, 2000
Appliance Anarchy


I'm beginning to hate our new answering machine.

I suspect that the feeling is mutual.

(All I can tell you is that one of us is gonna end up sitting in the recycling dumpster behind the apartment building, this summer ... and it sure as hell isn't going to be *me.*)

Answering machines are not something I'm all that fond of, to begin with. I suppose that's because I get quite enough of phonesphonesphones [read this: franzfranzfranz] at work. Once I get home, I'm perfectly content to just let the damn thing ring.  (I can't hear it ringing anyway, because the phone is usually unplugged. But that's another story for another day.)  As unnecessary and distasteful as I find answering machines, though, I acknowledge that occasionally they are a necessary evil. So for the past couple of years I've been using the answering machine function built into my contraband copy of WinFax, on my beloved little Piece o' Crap computer.  I liked everything about that WinFax answering machine. I liked the ease of use. You just clicked the little "Auto Receive" button on the Windows desktop ... and voila! instant answering machine! I liked the groovy graphics.  I liked the convenience: it didn't take up any valuable desktop real estate. (And anyone who has seen our desktop knows we don't have a lot of *real estate* to spare.)  I liked the sound quality, and how professional it made me sound ... even when my mouth was full. ("Hello. Thish ish Shecra. Pleash mmmmf vrosh frumfk at the tone. Bffmptuk.")  And I LOVED my stoopid Telephone Police message. ("Warning! This call is being monitored by the telephone company, and is being traced to YOUR number! Prosecution to the full extent of the law could result by continued abuse of this phone number. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!")

However, now that my litle Piece o' Crap computer is no longer "beloved" nor "functional,"  I'm forced to go with Plan D. At least, as far as my answering machine needs are concerned.

(Hey, wait a minute! you say. What happened to plans B and C?) 

Well ... Plan B involved me calling in "sick" to the Totem Pole Company and sitting around The Castle in my nightgown all day, personally answering the deluge of phone calls from prospective new employers. And Plan C meant driving a bazillion miles to Frys Electronics and forking over $119 to buy a legitimate copy of WinFax for David's computer. We'll probably get around to Plan C eventually  ...  but in the meantime this was Sunday night, and I'd just sent out a couple of critically important resumes, and I needed a working answering machine right now.

So we went with Plan D: getting into the Subaru and driving to Super K-Mart and buying an "old-fashioned" external answering machine for thirty bucks.

"This feels so 20th Century," David said distastefully, as I pulled the Sony TAM-100 out of the box and plugged it in.

"Yes, darling," I agreed with him. "It's a huge technological step backwards for DRaftervoi and SecraTerri. But it's cheap, and it's easy, and it will do for now." And I finished setting it up.

Maybe that's where I made my first mistake.

Maybe the Sony sensed our disdain. Maybe it resented me referring to it *cheap* and *easy.*

(Maybe it smelled the charred remains of the HAPPY PANDA TOASTER and panicked.)

Whatever the reason, though, the Sony TAM-100 and I definitely seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I've come home from work every single night this week  --  filled with hope and optimism, especially when I see the little blinking light/hear the little *beeping* noise that indicates We've Got [Six] New Messages! --  and have excitedly hit the "play button," certain I'm about to hear the Job Offer of a Lifetime ...

... only to listen, instead, to six blank "hang-up" messages in a row.

Six. Count 'em. Six. Every. Single. Night.

No heavy breathing. No audible gasp, followed by the slam of a receiver. No "Excuse me, I've got the wrong number." No "Hi! Have you got Prince William in a refrigerator?"

Nothing but dead air.

I know it can't be my resume. My resume is a work of art. My resume practically screams "Hire me! Save me! Love me! (And pay me really really well while you're at it, OK?)"  I'm certain that any prospective employer, looking at my fabulous resume, would immediately pick up the phone and call to say "Yes! Yes! Come in and interview RIGHT NOW, Secra!" And if they didn't reach me personally, what would they do?

They would leave a message.

So. I can only deduce that the problem is not with me ... but with the new answering machine.

Seriously. What else could it be?

throw a rock