During the day, when I’m working, in an effort not to let my work take over every facet of my life – I use a combination of caller ID and my answering machine to screen my calls. If it’s a number I don’t recognize or if it’s someone I may not have the time to speak with right then – I’ll let the machine pick up.

I have to do this because my phone number is literally 1 digit off from the Nations Rent store (I even had someone from their main office call my home and and started chewing my ass out for answering the phone with “yello…” ’til he realized he dialed the wrong number).

If I didn’t screen my calls, I’d be answering those calls all day coupled with the people who literally don’t know how to get off the phone even after I drop the subtle hint of “I have to get off the phone now…”. And that’s just not very productive.

For the most part, my system works out pretty well, but then there are the extra special people.

I almost had to turn off my ringer this morning because someone called from a number I didn’t recognize, I was already working so I let the machine grab it, they hung up on the machine (no big), then called back a second time 1 minute later. I still didn’t answer and they hung up on the machine again – but then called back a THIRD time like I was really going to answer it or something.

Obviously this person knew me and just wanted to annoy the hell out of me — at least that’s what it seems like. But I believe my remedy worked quite well because they have not called back again. Those who know me well enough already know what the remedy was – most likely because I’ve done it to them a few times :) .

But, let there be a lesson in this.

1 – If you are trying to reach a business establishment and you don’t hear the business establishment’s name mentioned anywhere in the answering machine message – you dialed the wrong number. Hang up and do not call back.

2 – If you are calling for a business inquiry and no one answers, leave a message – the person will most likely call you back.

3 – If you are calling because the person is already doing work for you and you need to ask them a question or tell them something, leave a message – the person will most likely call you back.

4 – If there is an emergency, hang up and dial 911.

There is NO reason why you should not leave a message on someone’s machine if it picks up besides #1 and #4. I understand that you may not like talking to a machine – I know I don’t and I used to be one of those “never leave a message” types of people, but oh how my ways have changed since being on the receiving end.

It is understandable to call someone back a second time if you believe they were unable to grab the phone by the 4th ring or at any time during the “thanks for calling” sequence despite how unlikely the case may be – but when you call back a third time, you’re just pushing it and that is the point where you start to seem…um…stalkerish.