Hello, you have reached Ben Hampton's voicemail. Please do NOT leave me a message here, as I will NOT check it. I never check my voicemail. Ever.

Just put whatever you were going to say into a text message, and send that to me. Text messages are efficient and good, unlike voicemails, which are inefficient and horrible and never contain even one picture of a cat. I like cats because they are incapable of leaving voicemails. Also because they are cute.

Voicemails waste time—time that should be spent thinking about how to convince everyone to stop leaving voicemails. It takes less than five seconds to read the average text message, while it takes more than 13 hours to listen to the average voicemail. I think.

I spend the majority of my days pondering how to best rid our planet of this wretched technology.

I confess it is difficult for me to keep up with the latest voicemail statistics, as the last time I listened to a voicemail was in 2002. It was from my friend Michael informing me that he was unable to get us opening night tickets to The Two Towers, a movie I was very excited to see because it is about a utopian society where nobody leaves each other voicemails. Michael also wanted to know what was up.

I vowed then and there that I would never listen to a voicemail again, and my hatred of them has only grown in the years since. It is now boundless and all consuming and causes me to spend the majority of my days pondering how to best rid our planet of this wretched technology. This frequently gets me into trouble at work, as solving this problem is not technically part of my job description.

I am a toll booth operator.

I have likely cost the state of New Jersey thousands of dollars by thinking about how much I hate voicemails instead of paying attention to whether the drivers who pass through my booth are paying their tolls, but this lost revenue pales in comparison to the benefits the state and country will reap when I am finally able to free them from the voicemail industry’s oppressive shackles. Deep down, my supervisors understand this, which is why they have kept me on staff despite numerous warnings to start collecting the right amount of tolls and stop yelling at the drivers about voicemails.

Also, my uncle is commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

He was the commissioner, at least. I have not seen or heard from him in 17 days. No one has. He left me a voicemail 18 days ago and then vanished the next morning. I have not listened to his voicemail. I will never listen to it, no matter what my cousins and the police and the governor say.

Voicemails are bad and annoying and a much worse way to communicate than text messages. He should have just texted me. Or sent me a picture of a cat holding a sign that explained what was happening to him. That would have been ideal.

I miss my uncle. I miss him very much. I just do not miss him as much as I hate voicemails.

So please, when you reach the end of this greeting, instead of blathering on about how you just wanted to check in or were wondering what time dinner was or recently saw my uncle at a Newark gas station looking scared and confused, send me the information in some type of written format, and congratulate yourself for bringing the world slightly closer to being the paradise we all know it can be, where voicemails have gone the way of smallpox, Furbies, and the majority of toll booth operators, except for the ones like me who have figured out how to do their jobs in a unique way that a machine could never replicate.

Anyway, leave it at the beep!

Please don’t, actually. I just still kind of like saying that.


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