This answering machine business all started innocently enough. You recorded your message on one tape, the caller recorded their message on the other. I doubt I’m the only person with memories of the excitement I felt as a child, seeing that blinking red light when my family returned from an outing. It always felt like an awesome responsibility when my parents allowed me to hit "Play."

This answering machine business all started innocently enough. You recorded your message on one tape, the caller recorded their message on the other. I doubt I’m the only person with memories of the excitement I felt as a child, seeing that blinking red light when my family returned from an outing. It always felt like an awesome responsibility when my parents allowed me to hit "Play."


The advent and subsequent prevalence of voicemail over the last few decades will rob current and future generations of children from that particular gem of an experience. The phrase, "If you’re screening, please pick-up" will mean nothing to them. But at least with voicemail, you no longer have to worry the machine eating your message.


Then, with the arrival of the iPhone’s visual voicemail feature, where you can actually choose which message you want to hear, it really seemed like the science of voice messaging had been perfected.


And for some vague stretch of years, there was peace in the land of voicemail. People recorded soon-to-be-ignored phone messages with ease, just as nature intended.


But then something changed. A dark cloud with a non-threatening female voice appeared on the horizon.


"At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished your recording, you may hang up or press # for more options."


A few beats after your individualized message, the voicemail lady forced her way onto the end of our greeting.


For the life of me, I cannot figure out why a phone company would consider this redundant information an important addendum to your personalized greeting, let alone why they would require it. If this were the 1980s, I could maybe see them wanting to prevent confusion among those who had spent the last two decades under a rock. But in AD 2013, it’s pretty safe to say most people understand the whole "wait-for-the-beep" rule.


It’s the same kind of "Well, duh" disclaimer as "This coffee may be hot" on the lid of your fast-food cup of Joe — just more over-cautious hand-holding from our corporate overlords.


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Happy birthday Wednesday to Noel Hanson, Esther Brown, Norma Jean White, Pauline Pyle and David Killion Jr., all of Sherman; Sherry Murphey Brooks, Eloise White, Johnny Jones, Toya Gray Mitchell, Jean Riddick, Dennis Gregg and Arleatha Jackie Criss, all of Denison; Paula B. Blevins of Dallas; and twins, Johnny Lewis of Ravenna and Jan Walls of Savoy.