Arrow-right Camera


Doom Lurks Behind Every Blinking Light

Sat., May 17, 1997

Is there a more ominous sign, here in the late 20th century, than the flashing voice-mail light? In an earlier age, the Western Union man used to be considered the bearer of bad tidings. Today, it’s that infernal blinking light.

Here’s a handy guide to phrases that you never want to hear on your voicemail:

“This is the director of security at the Flamingo Casino in Reno. Listen, we have your grandmother in custody here and …”

“This is Dr. Rochambeau. I need to speak with you about your 15-year-old daughter. You can reach me here at Washington Obstetrics Associates.”

“This is Dennis, at the auto shop. Our hydraulic hoist went a little haywire this morning, and … we need to talk.”

“This is Sgt. Underwood of the police department. We were processing a crime scene this morning and we found something interesting, and the funny thing is, it’s registered in your name.”

“Hey, Bill. Have you seen this month’s Playboy? There’s someone in the ‘Girls of the Channeled Scablands’ pictorial who has your last name! That’s not your … nah, couldn’t be. Give me a ring.”

“This is Oleta with the ‘Jerry Springer’ show. Listen, we’ve got your grandmother booked on our ‘Foxy Grandmas’ show for tomorrow and …”

“This is Urinatrix Associates. We had a very unusual reading on your drug test results (muffled giggles). Give us a call as soon as possible (more giggles).”

“This is the FBI, just doing a routine check. Give us a call here. Ask for the Domestic Terrorism Unit.”

“Hello, this is the office of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Listen, we deposed your grandmother today, and …”

“This is your boss. Sorry to hear you called in sick today. Call me when you get back from whatever you’re running around doing.”

“I was just looking for your son. No big deal. This is only his probation officer.”

“This is Carl’s Collection Agency. Don’t worry about calling back. We’ll cross paths soon enough.”

“This is the vice principal of Elwood P. Dowd Middle School. Do you think you could swing by here sometime in the next hour or so? Your son has something he wants to tell you. Don’t you, Ron?”

“This is the International Carnival Workers of America. Listen, we have this application here from your grandmother …”

“I know this is going to sound odd, but the reason we’re calling is that Timothy McVeigh put you down as a reference.”

“This is Dr. John Kevorkian…”

“This is Mike Wallace of ‘60 Minutes’…”

“This is Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano …”

“This is Bob, your friendly Amway salesman …”

“This is Frank, your tax accountant. Listen, could you call me back here at Lompoc? At the federal prison number?”

“Just calling to confirm the appointment your wife made for you. It’s for 10 a.m. tomorrow, here at the Colonic Irrigation Institute.”

“This is Dr. Smith, calling from the freakout tent at the Phish concert. Listen, we have this elderly women in here who thinks she’s your grandmother …”

“This is Dennis, over at the auto shop. Head gasket.”

“This is Gerry Spence. Your wife has formally retained me as her divorce lawyer. My people will be in touch.”

“This is your boss. Let’s meet at 2 p.m. and be prepared to discuss, oh, this ‘n’ that, various topics, your future in this industry, that kind of thing.”

“Hey, Bill. Caught your ex-wife on ‘Hard Copy’ last night. She mentioned your name a few times! Get back to me.”

“This is Officer Jones of the police department. We need to talk with you as soon as possible. Don’t worry, it’s not any kind of accident or anything involving your family. It’s about the disappearance of your broker.”

“This is the director of security for the Flamingo Casino in Reno. Please ignore the first message. We no longer have your grandmother in custody. She is currently at large.”

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Tags: column

Click here to comment on this story »