November 10, 2008

The AnswerPhone

There's a constant and relentless flash from the corner of my room, that's been there since week one; a little irritating red light taunting me on, and off, and on, and off. This is a psychological form of torture for me, as the phone knows my weakness. The phone knows of my lack of perseverance and anger at unfriendly interfaces, the phone knows how hard it is to operate and it laughs in this idyllic niche.

On first discovering I had a phone message, in week two, I eagerly pressed the little button next to the flashing light that read 'messages' in the hope that this would direct me to the messages. Apparently, in Canada the word 'Messages' means 'Scream Static into my ear'. That option was a no go, so I asked a friend how you accessed the message inbox. He then set off on an explanation so ridiculously lengthy and specific I began to wonder if he was still talking English. The sheer amount of numbers he detailed made me consider whether he'd just switched into binary and was directly ordering my phone to give me the messages.

Sadly, this was not the case.

I need to know something like three separate extension numbers along with my phone number and student number and student pin and the value of pi up to 74 decimal places and the exact score of the word "Salubrious" in Scrabble, provided the 'b' is on a triple letter score. I don't know these numbers. I don't like these numbers. I don't know anyone that would be able to memorise these numbers.

Assuming you can remember all the numbers, which you won't, and get them all in the right order, which is impossible, there are still thousands of hurdles to be cleared. The talking speed of the robot lady at the other end, for example, makes geological drift look playful. This coupled with her awful habit of leaving gaps at the most inopportune places (If you would like to access your message folder, please input your student number............ preceded by a hash) forces me to believe that she is the spirit of the phone, and laughs at how much misery her petty existence is enforcing upon my life.

The flares of red are irritating, the numbers you need to remember are inhuman, the controls are unintuitive, the woman is unhelpful, for some utterly arbitrary reason the '5' key is smaller than all the other numbers which makes me feel sorry for it every time I use it and thus reluctant to use it too much; the phone itself is positioned so that you need to lift the base of the phone to you to use if and for those of you who realise that the other hand needs to be fixed on the receiver you'll see the clear and apparent problem this poses for the pressing of buttons, I still haven't worked out how to use the volume control which means that slow-voiced-robot-lady is constantly yelling at me -- albeit it in a bland and preprogrammed voice, and it is connected to the wall by three separate cables. Power: yes I can get behind that, Phone Cable: of course necessary for your existence as a phone. Where does the third cable go? It just happily trails off directly into the wall with no apparent purpose.

I have not yet ruled out the possibility that this phone was placed here from the future.

This damned phone will be the death of me. I know as soon as I finish writing this piece the phone will flash and flash until eventually I cannot withstand its taunting and break down; and I know that my breaking down will at first be calm and organised, and I will slowly write down all the numbers I require. Bit by hellish bit I will realise that I've written down one number wrong, or one in the wrong order and I have to listen to the dull monotonous robotic daemon-woman trail off on an epically slow rant. My patience will wear thin. I realise I will finish the night at 4am wearing only my underwear, phone in one hand and a half-empty bottle of Jack-Daniels in the other, screaming "MESSAGES!" into the receiver whilst weeping to myself.

The world has, however, gotten a little bit better recently. I'm fairly certain one of the inaccessible messages in my answerphone is one of many well meaning Canadians screaming 'YES WE CAN' at the top of their voices. Despite sharing the same slogan as Bob the Builder, the Democrats are in. The good guys won. The teaming of Miss "So ridiculously stupid and incapable it's a wonder she's trusted with a can-opener" and The Emperor from Star Wars proved not as attractive as hoped to the American Public. It has to be said though, Palpatine's concession speech was remarkably graceful, well formed and timely. He seems to be the first Republican candidate I don't actively hate, rather I just disagree with him. I suppose I have to buckle and admit I don't really hate Palin either, she's so vapid there's not really enough there to form any opinion about. I admit it would be funny to see her running a country, provided it was one of the smaller ones with no nuclear capacity; and if the only residents were Hitler and Barry Scott from the Cilit Bang adverts.

I don't really have anything particularly interesting to say on the topic, other than this: doesn't Obama have something of the messiah about him? There's something so innately noble of the man that I feel as though he was in some way destined to lead. If he found a soapbox and started claiming he was leading us to the new Babylon I can't honestly promise I wouldn't follow. Fortunately he seems responsible with the power he wields, and his values are so incredibly well formed that not obeying the man seems almost literal sacrilege. The number of people I've seen with 'Obama' t-shirts could easily form a fair sized cult. I'm just glad he's a good leader, as well as being a good leader.

We're in something of a depression right now, everyone knows, and I suppose it's fair to say that it'll get worse before it gets better. Maybe it will get better, though. Maybe Obama's slogan is right, maybe we can. Have hope.



Today I would like you to buy 'Wreckage' by Overseer. This may be slightly well known, and as such ruin my indie street cred, but fuck it, it's a fantastic album.


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