When I was young, before I went and entered the world on my own, wrong numbers were a rarity at my family's house. Yes, they did happen occasionally -- but not terribly often.

However, when I found myself in Pittsburgh doing a contract job, I found it necessary to get an apartment. So I had a telephone, and because I spend too much time online, the phone line had voice mail. The original message went something like this:

Within a day I had a message for "RSL Industries". They didn't leave a number, so I couldn't call them back. I deleted the message.

The next day, I had another message for "RSL Industries". Without a number. The message was something to the effect of, "Hey Dave, this is Chuck. I have some work for you to get done. Call me." Somehow, I don't think Art sounds like Dave. The message changed to this:

    Hello. This is Art -- not RSL Industries. I am either on the phone, or not home, so please leave your name and number after the beep.

You might think that this stopped all calls for RSL Industries, but it didn't. I had someone leave a message asking me for their new number, like it was my fault. I had calls that were just the same as the first two. I couldn't make myself care, so I just deleted them.

The day I moved out of the apartment, I received a message that went as follows:

    Hi, this is Joyce calling for Jim and Carol. We're planning to meet you at 6pm at Frameworks for dinner. See you there.
It was deleted too.

I discovered, upon moving in with my wife, that she had a similar problem. So I created a new message:

    Hello, you are fortunate enough to be hearing Art and Steph's answering machine. If your call is not for Art or Steph, you probably have the wrong number. Please leave your name and number after the beep, and we'll call you back.
Real specific. I didn't think anyone could screw up what I said there. I don't have a thick accent or anything, and I spoke slowly. But last night, when we got home from a trip:
    Hi Rob, this is Carol. I'm willing to give you another chance sweetie, so call me back, ok?


Names were changed to protect the guilty in the above node.