Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is It Me, Or Are You Gabbling?


I walk in the door, change into my slippers and check the voicemail. Two messages. I play them both and they sound like gobbledygook. I play them again. I still can hardly catch a word of either of them. Perhaps it is because I am tired. I check my email, then make myself a cup of tea and relax in the chair for a while. Some time later, I play the messages again. I can sort of half make out the names and a word here or there if I concentrate really hard. But whoever these people are, they sound like a couple of hyperactive marmosets on speed.

My partner comes home. He listens to the messages. One of them appears to be for him. He can’t understand most of it either.

It is not just voicemail. I called our bank with a query and after a few moments I had to stop the young man who answered me and ask him please to slow down and stop talking at fast forward. Then a pleasant-sounding young woman called us to ask if we would like to buy some advertising space in her magazine. At least, I eventually found out that’s what she wanted. It took me three or four ‘I beg your pardon?’s and, when that didn’t work, a polite request to slow down from the speed of light to something approaching the normal speed of sound.

I was asked to do a radio interview a couple of months ago and it was a real struggle. I felt as though I, too, had to talk faster and faster till I was breathless in order to keep up with the manic pace of the interviewer. I came away from the interview feeling totally exhausted and vowing never to do another. It is just not comfortable any more.

Even some of the people I know are starting to talk faster than they used to.

Or is it just that I am old? Or the fact that I live a quiet life down a quiet country lane, don’t own a TV set, rarely watch movies and usually travel at the speed of my legs or of the local bus (which is almost as slow).

No, I suspect that the frenetic pace at which so many people seem to live their lives nowadays is causing them to speak at twice normal speed. And I suspect that video games, TV and fashions in film editing all have something to do with it as well. Everything has revved up without anybody really noticing that what they are now doing is gabbling, rather than talking.

Anyway, if you are going to leave a message on my answering machine, please speak slowly enough for me to understand what you want. Otherwise I’ll simply click the ‘erase’ button.

Better still, send me an email. Then I can answer you in my own time – and at my own speed. Which I don’t think is slower than it ever was, despite my age. (Oh and by the way, I’ve noticed that the birds around here don’t seem to be singing any faster than they ever did. Thank goodness).

10 comments:

Geri Atric said...

Hi Marian,
Loved this post! I don't use an answering machine for the very reasons you describe. Perhaps it's because Dutch is not my mother-tongue but when I'm tired everyone and especially telemarketers (!) all sound like aliens from Planet Mengelmoos! I've only just joined blogged.com and yours is one of the first blogs I've peeped at. I'll definately be back! Take care.

Cheryl said...

Hi Marian.......I agree with you completely....I think everything is speeding up and there are some of us that are quite happy as we are. And I am one of them.

Tess said...

This made me laugh because it is so true. I'm often to be found bending over my answerphone with a puzzled look on my face.
The folks at the bank and telemarketers all work from scripts I guess which makes them gabble.
My auntie, who lived to the age of 60 without owning a phone and all her life (she died at 84) without ever owning a television or computer, left the clearest, most sensible voicemail messages I've ever heard.

MaryContrary said...

Hi, Marian,

Everything has speeded up. The telemarketers are usually paid on how many sales they make and therefore they have a lot of incentive to get through as many calls as possible to make the maximum number of sales. People on the help lines at banks and other institutions are encouraged to handle as many calls as possible. I have come to hate driving around here. On our local four-lane highway I go at my usual 5 miles above the speed limit and am run over by people doing 20 miles over. I have been passed on an undulating, shoulderless two lane blacktop road with double yellow lines by people who absolutely insist on speeding along at a much faster rate. I also much prefer a more sedate pace with time to enjoy what I find around me.

Ernestine said...

Marion All you shared is so true.
There are those that call me while on cell phone in car or walking.
The only time they can fit me into their schedule. They talk nonstop of all their activities.
I just wish they would not call.
When I hang up my mind is totally unsettled.
Blessings to you from Tennessee this early evening.

Hedgewitch said...

Its not age.. its lifestyle!

When I got ill I had to learn to slow down, relax and take things at my own pace.. only to discover that its a lot slower than the everybody else's. But I'm happier :-)

There's so much 'stimulation' and urgency around in our society and its very stressful, very tiring?

I, too, like email because I can reply in my own time and take my time to weigh the words I choose. It is a respectful medium in this regard, I think!

ladyluz said...

Oh Marion, how I laughed and how I related to your puzzlement at the gobblygook messages.

I too refuse to speed up and notice how, gradually, some people realise that; that they can slow down and I will still listen and soon they seem much more relaxed.

Tanner said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful comments you left on my Blog for the 100 Simple Ways to Change Your Life for the Better!

You made some great points! It's always very appreciated! Feel free to stop by at any time.

smith kaich jones said...

Oh this is so funny & so true & has such PERFECT timing! I just this very moment returned a phone call left on my voice mail here at work. I had to guess at the number to call - the message said it was 283-tuwait. Is that 2108? I wondered. It was. I NEVER understood the woman's last name. In addition, she was calling on her cell phone from her job at a beauty parlor, apparently chock-a-block full of women preparing for a big Friday night. Noisy, noisy, noisy.

And then I came here & found this post, having never visited you before. The universe moves in mysterious (or perhaps purposeful?) ways.

:) Debi

Rain said...

I have felt the same way about the voice mails. Sometimes I have to listen to them several times to get anything. I wasn't sure what was going on.