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.