You’ve planned out the perfect message complete with friendly opener, concise callback instructions, and a breezy sign off, when a human voice interjects with a confrontational, “hello?”

Whether you’ve called the AC repairman or that guy who gave you his card after he let you cut him in line at the bagel store, now that flawless voicemail script you’ve got might as well be written in Sanskrit (if you don't know Sanskrit).

Don’t panic. Here are some helpful hints on how to handle this potentially awkward situation.


Lose consciousness.

This solution requires the least amount of effort since, let’s face it, you’re probably halfway to a panic attack already. It’s not great on the knees though.

Speak to them in a mashup of all the languages you know a little or have once heard in your life even if they are fictitious until they hang up.

There’s nothing people hate more than feeling uncultured.

Go back in time to when this person was young and impressionable and tell them that cool people never pick up the phone.

In order to make sure this sage advice sticks, relay it to them in the persona of Matthew McConaughey from Dazed And Confused, the coolest of the weird older guys who shouldn’t have been hanging around teenagers.

Echo whatever they say until they forget why they were on the phone in the first place.

This one requires some serious mimicking skills, but if you can match the exact sound, cadence and rhythm of their voice and repeat whatever they say back to them with a slight delay, they’ll just think there’s something wrong with their phone and their mind. But hey, everyone should question reality once in a while, right?

Hand your phone to the nearest toddler/octogenarian/animal.

Just let them work their chaotic magic. Slamming on all the phone buttons, screaming about the post office, or just endless barking will no doubt bring your call to an abrupt end. However, you might have a bit of trouble getting your phone back not bitten, broken, or puked on.

Drop your phone in the toilet.

This classic blunder is totally forgivable, plus it makes you look cool, because every Millennial’s done it at least once in their aimless, self-serving lives. Sure, you might need to buy a new phone, but sometimes that’s just the price you pay to avoid voice-on-voice contact.

Hire someone to steal their phone while they’re talking to you.

It’s a little expensive and illegal, but they can’t implicate you, because you’re audibly witnessing the theft.

Recreate the opening from Scream.

Here’s one for all you drama enthusiasts. It just requires you to have that iconic scene where Drew Barrymore is on the phone with the killer cued up at all times and also have an untraceable phone number. But once you’ve got that, you just have to fast forward through her parts and pause for reactions. Don’t worry if the person you’re “talking” to isn’t named Casey—the confusion will just escalate the terror.

Gaslight them into believing they called you.

This fun mind game is pretty easy to play on anyone. Whatever they say, simply declare that they’re wrong and the opposite is true. For example, if they say, “did you call me?” reply, “no, you called me, silly.” If they continue to insist otherwise, get angry and tell them you’ll have nothing to do with them until they get their priorities straight. Boom. One less person you have to worry about answering your phone calls.

Hang up and try again later.

You could tell them you got disconnected or hit the wrong button. You could also tell them the sun sets in the west and fairies aren’t real. Show some creativity, you prosaic dick.

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