Monday, December 10, 2007

After four weeks on the road I'm fit to be tied up and thrashed with a packet of Skittles. I'm also ready to seek out and strangle the sadistic jerk who designed the "Meridian Mail" voice messaging system, which for some ungodly reason is installed in virtually every hotel that I stay in these days. Anyone who travels will be familiar with the following scenario.

Only one thing is more irritating than a long voice mail, and that's a long message that exists solely for the purpose of telling you that you have a long voice mail. If I had anything to do with it, I'd devise a system that would deliver a painful electric shock to the ear of anyone who can't say what they need to in 10 seconds or less.

And an extra jolt for anyone that says, "Goodbye," to a tape recorder. When you get out of bed tomorrow morning and stumble into your kitchen, try saying hello to your toaster. It's the same principle.

"Hey, it's Bilgewad. Call me back at 555-2341, and I'll tell you what I was going to say to the recorder."

How bloody simple is that? Instead, most of the messages I get are pointless, rambling, anecdotal, diatribes that could be edited to these six words. CALL ME BACK, YOU MORON. Now that, I can do. What I can't do without yelling at an inanimate object, is listen to this kind of asinine, time-wasting verbal diarrhea:

Meridian Mail Lady: "Hello," (Like we're supposed to answer back) "You have accessed the hotel's voice messaging system," pause... forever...

I KNEW THAT. IT'S THE VERY REASON I HIT THE BUTTON MARKED "MESSAGES."

Meridian Mail Lady: "The Meridian Mail messaging system can be accessed from any hotel telephone, or any touch-tone telephone in our solar system."

By this time, I'm holding the handset in front of my face, and I am answering back. "For the love of Pete, what's the message?"

Meridian Mail Lady: "You have one new message, and a text message at the front desk, which you probably picked up two days ago, but hey, we love screwing with your head. In a moment, I'm going to give you your messages, but first, here are your personal, in-room, Meridian Mail options. To record a personal greeting..."

SWEET JESUS, TAKE ME NOW.

Meridian Mail Lady: "...press 2. To transfer to an operator at any time, press 0. To listen to your messages, press 1. (To end your agony, check in to a decent hotel.)

Now I'm irritated enough to stab angrily at the 1 key, and I accidentally hit 2 at the same time. Well, almost. Naturally, I hit the 2 key .000000894 of a second before the 1, and end up having to leave a greeting after the beep. The greeting is the sound of the handset being repeatedly beaten against my forehead.

Meridian Mail Lady: "If you are satisfied with your greeting, press 1."

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, IT'S FINE, YOU EVIL BITCH. 11111111111111111111111111111 -- BITE ME!

Now I'm calm again. I'm okay. Just give me the message, that's all.

Meridian Mail Lady: "Message one, delivered at 9:03pm, Thursday, February 14th, from a hotel room..." (In the background, a couple of muffled thumps, followed by McCord's voice: "Hello... hello?" Then two or three bleeps, as McCord hits zero several times, then he says, "Operator at any time, my ass! Screw this voicemail system, and the turds who dreamed it up!" Several muffled thuds, and the sound of a chocolate pillow mint being smashed up with the TV remote, which accidentally disarms the mute button, followed by exaggerated screaming from a Spectravision movie.)

Meridian Mail Lady: "To replay the message, press 3. To save the message, and move on, press 5. For message cleanup, press 7.

HMMM. I should save that one, but okay, I press 7.

Meridian Mail Lady: "You have chosen message cleanup."

OH, OH, OH, I BLOODY WELL KNOW THAT, YOU VICIOUS, HEARTLESS BITCH.

"To delete all the messages you have heard, press 1 now."

ALL RIGHT... 1, FREAKING 1, FREAKING 1, FREAKING 1.

Meridian Mail Lady: "You have chosen to delete all the messages you have heard... (Eight-second pause) To confirm the deletion, press 1 again."

AAAAAAAAAARGH! I AM NOT PRESSING ANYTHING, ANY MORE! (Deep breath.) "IN FACT, I'M GOING TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU LIVE, AND SHOVE THIS TELEPHONE RIGHT DOWN YOUR BIG, HAIRY, THROAT. THEN I'M GOING TO...

You get the picture, I'm sure. Four weeks on the road with a wife and five kids at home, and the term "stir crazy" starts to make sense. Everybody complains about cell phones these days, but at times such as these, I'm glad to have one. My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter leaves two-second messages.

"Night-night Daddy, I love you."

I save those, so I can call myself up and listen to her before I go to bed. Then, even the indestructible, inextinguishable flashing red light on the bedside phone doesn't bother me.

Thanks, I feel better now.

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