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Posted by on Dec 4, 2023 in Retirement Humour |

Living Retired — ‘Phone Technology Gone Too Far’

Living Retired — ‘Phone Technology Gone Too Far’

Living Retired — ‘Phone Technology Gone Too Far’

By Gary Chalk

Think hard. Really hard. Can you remember a time when you made a telephone call that went into voicemail and the voicemail message made you laugh out loud? Can you recall this happening? Ever? It happened to me a couple of weeks ago. And I still chuckle. This is what occurred…

I called a friend who calls himself ‘Handsome Doug’ (that’s another story, fiction!). Doug’s voicemail came on, “We are experiencing a higher volume of calls so please leave a message and Sandee or I will get back to you.” This was his home phone! After the beep I was laughing so hard that I wasn’t sure if Handsome Doug would be able to understand me.

At least Handsome Doug’s answering machine doesn’t use the technology that prompt’s callers to say a word or a phrase that connects you to the correct department quickly. Here is an example…

You awake in the middle of the night and discover someone has broken into your house! Immediately, you call 9-1-1.

“You have reached 9-1-1. Please say a word or phrase. For example, if this is an emergency please say ‘EMERGENCY.’ Or ‘I NEED HELP.’”

From the darkness of your bedroom you whisper, “I NEED HELP!”

“I’m sorry. Did you say, “I Need Smelt?” Pease say a word or phrase.”

I screamed, “I NEED HELP!”

“Did you say, “I Bleed Smelt? Please say a word or short phrase. If your grandchild is playing with your phone please hang up and hope for the best when the Police Tactical Unit, Fire Department, Paramedics, and Homeland Security arrive. If you found our service helpful please give us a Five Star review on Yelp and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.”

And what’s with the instrumental music callers suffer through while we are on hold? Before you can speak with a friendly customer service representative nearby in Democratic Republic of the Congo who speaks Swahili, the smooth jazz version of The Macarena drones on and on… Give me some Queen ‘We Will Rock You.’

Little did I know when I asked Jan what she would like for Christmas this year, would involve me having to call a 1-800-number.

“Dear, for Christmas would you like a gift certificate for a day at the spa? Perhaps a full body aromatherapy body wrap? Or pamper yourself with an enzymatic sea mud pack?”

“That’s very thoughtful Gary. But what I’d really like is for you to call the cable company and negotiate a reduction in our monthly bill. Many of my friends have saved lots of money.”

I was going gobsmacked!

“Jan, there is no cable company anymore. They call themselves the cable provider. What’s with that?”

Before you could say, ‘Listen carefully as our extensions have recently changed’ I went to our bathroom for my clippers.

“Jan, the last time I called I was on hold so long that by the time someone came on the line I couldn’t hear because the hair in my ears had grown so much they resembled a Malaysian bamboo plantation!”

And what’s with the security questions you must answer?

“Mr. Chalk to get started we need you to answer a simple security question.” I was thinking something like name the city I grew up in. The name of my first pet. Or what high school I attended? You know something easy peasy.

“Mr. Chalk please state your wife’s grandmothers Body Mass Index?”


I had to think fast! There is only one person who could answer that question. “Siri, what was the Body Mass Index of Jans grandmother?”

From the next room, Jan’s ears perked up.

“Gary, are you speaking to me? And why on earth do you need my grandmothers Body Mass Index? All I have is her butter tart recipe.”

Jan’s comment took the cake!


Living Retired is written by humour columnist Gary Chalk.

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