“Call Me Back.”

I’m a man who has two children, works in emergency services on various levels, has suffered through layoffs and firings in the professional world, and- if I’m honest, dealt with creditors and debt collectors.

– Basically, its really easy to put me on heightened alert via telecommunications.

If I happen to have a voicemail come through my phone without a missed call alert so I know who it is, Part of me jumps to panic mode and wonders “Uh oh…now what?” I immediately scroll through any number of negative possibilities until I check the messages.

Because of this paranoia if you will, any and all attempts to reach me where the messages are simply “Call me back.” or “I need to talk to you” sends me into a rage.

I CRAVE information. I like to know what is going on around me, I like to know what I’m up against when I return a call or a message. With my constant fear of wandering into a bear-trap from an unexpected message and my desire for constant intel, these messages incense me to no end.

I have a very dear friend who was one of my groomsmen at my wedding, and I’m set to be one at his- who is the single worst offender at this. Whenever he tries to call me or messages me there is never any content in his communications. They’re always simply “Call me back. I need to talk to you.” In fact, it was a recent communication from him that prompted this post in the first place.

I’ve gone into a meeting that started simply with “The Walrus wants to see you” (The Walrus was my nickname for an old boss, of whom I was not overly fond) – and ended up finding out that my position was being eliminated.
Or the voicemails saying “Give me a call when you can.” – to find out that someone has died.
The worst was the meeting I was called to with the message that said only “When can you get here?” – to find out that I didn’t get a job I was looking for.

If you’re blindsided enough, you start to expect it at every turn and messages without any content or warning immediately make me defensive.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that whenever you need to leave a message for someone, GIVE THEM INFORMATION. – Especially if there is no bad news attached to your business. Even if there is bad news, some cushion to soften the blow would be nice. As far as I’m concerned, it is basic human decency to give a ‘heads up’ when you need to reach out to someone who has to return a message.

Leaving a secret message for someone and baiting them into returning the call just so you can A-bomb them with bad news is just mean, and there may be a special place in an extra-warm climate awaiting you when you pass on simply for this.

Leaving a secret message for someone that might lead them to believe you’re going to A-bomb them with bad news is worse, especially if you have GOOD news, or no news at all.

“Hey, AD, This is your old buddy jerkface. Call me when you get this, I need to talk to you.”

-Jerkface? I haven’t talked to jerkface in two years. Oh man…what happened? {Panic sets in}

“Hey jerkface, this is AD returning your call, what’s up?”

“Oh, hey AD, nothing, I just had a question for you- what was the name of that restaurant you went to that gave you food poisoning when we visited West Nowhere twelve years ago? I’m bringing my family out that way next week and we don’t want to spend the whole trip on the can like you did.”*

{Rage replaces panic as I direct him and his unwitting family directly to the place he seeks to avoid as punishment for his sins}

(* The above is not a real conversation, although is a slightly embellished one to make my point.)

How much longer would it have taken him to to leave a message that said exactly what he wanted to avoid lighting my fear that he was going to tell me some bad news?

Information is key. It doesn’t matter what you want, either couch it a bit if its bad news, so you’re not hamstringing some poor soul, or lay it all on the table if you’re NOT going to ruin someone’s day when they call you back.

Human decency dictates thusly.

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