“Hello; we are not available now”

“Please leave your name and number after the beep.” Uttered by an non-human male-sounding voice, this message that came with our answering machine keeps unwanted callers at bay. Our household used no answering machine at all until not all that long ago, which also works very well to discourage the unwelcome, so long as the receiver stays in its cradle. There was never one of those machines here with the little cassette tape. We skipped that technique and proceeded directly to the more modern, chip-based system. The telephone is also fixed to emit no audible ringing or buzzing sound. A flashing light suffices as notice that a message has been recorded. Warding off incoming nuisance calls is accomplished, reserving the telephone for essential outgoing communication. From what the neighbors say, they’ve been plagued all week, including today, with electioneering calls, some from phone banks and others from robotic calling systems using recorded messages. As a get-out-the-vote reminder, I prefer the private vehicles that crawl along the curb, their doors sporting electioneering posters, with tinny loud-speakers mounted on the roof or even with the driver or a passenger using a bullhorn: “Have you voted yet? The polls close in an hour and a half.” And they do, at seven o’clock, so consider voting if you haven’t, before it’s too late.

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