Waiting in his mail box was a card saying that a postman had unsuccessfully tried to deliver a parcel to him.
The phone number provided led only to an automated answering system which offered no working options to deal with his problem, nor any way to escape from Recorded Message Hell and speak to a human.
Poor you, Mike. I’ve noticed that these days, loads of companies us this as a brilliant way of deflecting those troublesome people known as customers (“pests”).
What’s more, some individuals (especially the ones I call regularly) also are using voice mail messages to avoid people, with recordings like this: “Hi. I am probably home. I’m just avoiding someone I don’t like. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s YOU. Beeep.”
Anyway, Michael was not defeated.
He typed his details into the post office website, and got a message saying “response period is expired”, indicating that he was too late. The mystery parcel must have already gone back to wherever it came from.
He decided that he should at least track down the sender to find out what he’d missed.
So, on April 23, he emailed the post office:
“Can you advise who sent the item so I may take any appropriate action?”
Four days later, the post office replied, but did not tell Mike who the sender was. Instead, it said: “You may inform the sender to contact us.”
Huh? How could he find out who the person was by asking them when he didn’t know who the person was?
Michael wrote back: “My Dear Sir, as I have not seen the mail item in question, and as your advice does not say who the mail item is from, I have no idea whatsoever who it is from. Had I seen the item, I would have this information, in which case I would not be engaging in this apparently pointless dialogue with you.”
There was a delay of three days, and then, on April 30, the post office wrote back with more information: “Dear Customer, thank you for your email. Records indicate the item was returned to sender on 29 April 2009.”
In other words, the post office returned the parcel to the sender AFTER all the correspondence above had taken place.
Michael then wrote to them to ask them to tell him who they sent the parcel to.
On May 6th, the post office replied, telling him that they didn’t know who they sent the parcel to.
At this point, he gave up the fight, realizing that the post office clearly operated in some sort of parallel galaxy where logic was a totally alien concept. If it’s any comfort Mike, I think the whole of Earth has now drifted into that galaxy, so we’re all in the same boat.
But to return to the subject of voice mail messages, I have had a bit of personal good news. I finally worked out the right phone message to deal with a family problem: what statement should we put on the phone belonging to granny, who has severe memory loss?
The answer: “I can’t come to the phone right now as I have amnesia. After the beep, please leave my name and number.”