Voices in the Dark

Voices in the Dark are what I call those strange messages left on my mobile’s voicemail, messages that are not intended for me, messages, if you like, meant for Not-Me.

Anyone can make a mistake and it is easy to misdial a single digit in a phone number. That is presumably the reason for most of these unexpected messages. Others are not so easy to explain, such as the series I received from a Job Centre in Birmingham informing Not-Me of various appointments. Or the chap from I know not where who rang a couple of times, calling Not-Me “mate” and advising of bus times.

Then there was a lady, elderly to judge by the tremble in her voice, who left a long and rambling message that made no sense to me but possibly would have to someone else.

A similar thing happens with text messages though not nearly as often. I once received several of these, obviously intended as one person’s part in a dialogue. By themselves they made little sense, though I could guess that the sender was a male and that he was engaged in chatting up a member of the opposite sex. Why it took him so long to twig that the object of his affections was not receiving his textes doux I can’t imagine.

I am sometimes tempted to reply to these messages. Conscience – that meddler who deserves to be packed off to bed with no supper and a handful of tranquilizers – suggests that it would be only fair to let senders know that their darts are missing the target. After all, I once emailed someone only to realize much later that the addressee was a stranger with the same name as my friend. It would have saved me some time to have been told this.

On the other hand, you don’t know what you might be getting into by telephoning a complete stranger. If they misdial, then presumably they don’t know where their message has gone but if you reply, then that gives them your number. And who knows what consequences might flow from that?

All in all, I think it best to let sleeping dogs lie.

You might wonder why it is that I pick up these messages by voicemail instead of receiving the original call. I wonder that too. Maybe it is because they call when I am out and about and don’t hear the phone ring. I miss a lot of calls either because I don’t hear them or because I don’t manage to answer them in time.

This is because once I put my “dolbies”* on, I have to connect my T-loop in order to use my phone. The jack is forever falling out (that is why I intend to replace the wired version with a Bluetooth variant) and when the phone rings I have to put the jack in, then switch my dolbies to T-loop and finally answer the phone. By this time the call has most likely timed out.

I quite often don’t bother to answer at all, reasoning that if the call is important, the caller will ring back at a more propitious moment or leave a message. Friends know that if I don’t answer, they should wait a couple of minutes and try again. By that time I will, all being well, be wired for sound and able to take the call.

It is still a little mysterious where these messages come from. They are fragments of people’s lives whirling around like dry leaves that occasionally fetch up in your lap. Voices that pass in the night. Voices in the Dark.


*“Dolbies” is my pet name for my hearing aids.
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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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7 Responses to Voices in the Dark

  1. Chris says:

    I like that last paragraph. I thought for a moment that you were going to raise the old Jungian spectre of synchronicity. Maybe you should analyse these messages in detail to try to discover if there is some deeper, possibly life-changing meaning to them.

    Fact is, though, that there’s no such thing as crossed lines these days; only lazy or careless dialing. And as for that bloke and his romantic text messages, he’s fallen for the oldest trick in the book: if you don’t want someone to call you, give ’em a fake number. Just make one up if you have to. (Un)fortunately, the number he was given just happened to be yours.

    Me? I’d save all those one-sided messages up, probably alter the names just to be on the safe side, and publish them as a fun web page. Could be quite amusing, eh?

  2. cbramhall says:

    My ISP offers a service which provides a telephone and fax number which can be used wherever you are. If anyone leaves a voicemail or sends a fax (who uses fax these days?) the result is forwarded as an e-mail attachment. So far, I’ve had several calls to the fax number, none of which left anything, and one voicemail… which consisted of the sound of someone fumbling with a phone before hanging up!

    Then there was the work colleague who managed to leave me a five minute long “message” from the departure lounge of an international airport when she accidentally bumped her phone and called my number. The problem with that was that I had to listen to the entire message before the voicemail service gave me the option to delete it!

  3. SilverTiger says:

    Saving up my misdirected voicemails might in the long run turn up something useful but it seems unlikely to be worth the effort. I rarely delete voicemails in case I have to refer to them again but my provider takes care of this for me by deleting them after 7 days.

    It’s amazing how often people do phone a genuine number by some accident such as banging their handbag against an obstacle. And, of course, when that happens, they don’t realize it so the “call” can go on for hours… I always keep my keyboard lock on to prevent that happening though sometimes I do forget. Uh-oh: think how easy it is to dial 999…

  4. Em says:

    Many years ago we had a message left on our answering machine from what sounded like a lovestruck Canadian who left the most beautiful lament clearly intended for a loved one other than one of us. We listened a few times as it was a message of great love & beauty but could not alert the caller that his message of love went to the wrong destination as at theat time overseas numbers did not register on our answer machine. I saw a film a year ago which was all the kept answer machine messages that one guy kept from his friends & family over a 20 year period.It was very moving (http://tinyurl.com/talk2me).

  5. SilverTiger says:

    Quite a sad story. Let’s hope the caller finally got through to the object of her affections or found another love.

    In such circumstances one often feels guilty for not doing more to put things right but there was nothing you could do. If the intended recipient of the call was so important to the caller, then the least she could have done was to make sure she had the right number.

    Having said that, international calls do set traps for the unwary. I once tried to call someone in France and ended up talking to a department store in quite a different town!

  6. Big John says:

    How about the plonkers who start talking to your recorded voice ? 😀

  7. SilverTiger says:

    They may do, for all I know but if so I don’t hear them. Also I have never changed the default message which is spoken by a female voice and I imagine that’s a bit of a giveaway.

    I did think of putting my own message in, you know, something witty or satirical – “Hi, you’ve got through to the Islington Asylum for the Insane but all our lunatics are currently engaged helping other callers”, for instance, but I know how easily people take offence or don’t realize it’s a joke.

    “Call me later when I’m in a better mood” is quite a good one.

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