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Messing Up Messages

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - January 28, 2009
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Editor’s note: Ron Nagasawa is on vacation. This column was previously published in August 2001, the olden times of telephone technology.

Nobody ever wants to look stupid.

But somehow, I’ve managed to hone “looking stupid” into a fine art. I mean, I can look stupid and not even be in the same room with someone.

Speaking as an expert, a surefire way to look stupid is by trying not to.

For instance, anytime I have to deal with a telephone answering machine, my IQ drops by nearly 50 percent. I’ll call someone and nine times out of 10 will get their answering machine.

If someone else is in the room with me while I’m making that call, I have a difficult time verbalizing a callback message. I’ll stand there in silence, unable to say anything, kind of like the inability to “shi-shi” if someone is standing behind you waiting for your urinal.

After missing the message-placement window, I’ll call back and go through at least two other cycles where I won’t leave a message. Finally, I’ll say something that comes off worse than bad karaoke: “Hi, uh, that was me the three other times, sorry. Oh yeah, this is Ron, bye.”

Exactly two seconds later, I have to call back and leave the phone number that I’m calling from, which at that point, solidifies the fact that I’m a dork. At least I’m still just talking to a machine - it’s worse for me if an actual human being is on the other end of the line.

The other night I was trying to call someone and dialed their number from my limited memory. What I thought was their number actually wasn’t, and I dialed the number of another person - someone whom I really didn’t want to talk to just then because she’ll keep me on the line for hours.

When she answered the phone and I realized who it was, I didn’t say anything and hung up.

Unfortunately, thanks to modern technology and *69, she called me right back and asked, “Ron, did you just call me and hang up?”

Reaching deep into my bag of excuses, I replied, “Yes, but when the voice of Catherine Zeta-Jones came on the line, I thought I had the wrong number.”

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