EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I still remember with fondness the cell phone commercial where the technician is in the middle of a swamp somewhere and he is testing his cell coverage. I don’t know where he might be, but he isn’t here in Weston, Connecticut where we have limited cell coverage. (Thank goodness, Sprint, in their wisdom, has provided me with a repeater.)

Despite the convenience of being able to make and receive calls anywhere (including when I am crossing Long Island Sound in my sailboat), the use of cell phones is to be approached with a great deal of caution. The fact that it really isn’t your fault that you can’t be heard will be long forgotten. All that will be remembered is that you were shouting and repeating yourself.

In addition, if you leave a message and the individual you call doesn’t call you back, you might want to call them back. I have had many messages left on my telephone over the past year that went dead just when the caller got to the part about his/her phone number. Sorry, but if you aren’t in my address book and I couldn’t make out your name or the phone number, it is going to take me longer to get back to you. As a general rule, it doesn’t hurt to repeat your phone number twice so that if you wander into “cell phone heck,” I will still be able to call you back.

Droning on at length, whether calling from a cell phone or a land line is also a bad idea. I have a lot of nice features on my phone. I can play back whole messages or just parts, but it is still a burden to have to listen to a long phone message. If your phone number is buried somewhere in the middle, it can be challenging for me to find it after I have listened to your entire message. I always like to confirm that I have written your number down correctly, just in case you are calling from one different than the one in my address book. Oh, and when you get to the phone number part of your message, DON’T SPEED UP. Yes, I know you are quite familiar with your phone number and I am sure you can repeat it several times while holding a lit match, but please don’t try to impress me.

In addition, much as I enjoy a good game of telephone tag, make it easy for me and let me know a good time to call back. I may be one of the most persistent folks on this earth, but everyone isn’t, so try to be considerate of the fact that others are easily frustrated. (They just don’t know how important you are.)

If people are going to be calling you back, and I hope they will, be sure you have a professional sounding answering machine or service, just in case you aren’t there. There is nothing worse than trying to leave a message with a small child or someone who doesn’t speak English. (Sorry, it is the only language I speak, and some folks might dispute even that!) If there are issues in your household, consider getting a private line for your business calls or getting voice mail from your telephone company. No one should ever get a busy signal.

When you call, please clearly identify yourself and how I know you. Trust me, I really do know all of you, but unfortunately, an amazing number of you have the same first and last name. Give me a few hints so I don’t feel stupid asking you to elaborate. (You know what a sensitive guy I am.)

Well, that should about do it. I do hope to hear from each of you from time to time. Anyone who calls tomorrow from a cell phone with a garbled message and a quickly spoken phone number will only have themselves to blame for not reading this editorial.

Regards, Matt

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