Thursday, March 22, 2007

This Call May Be Recorded

"Thank you for calling the Customer Service Department. A representative will be with you shortly. This call may be recorded for training and quality control purposes. Please advise us if you do not wish to be recorded."

As a matter of fact, I do not wish to be recorded.

"Why?" you may ask.

I'll tell you why.

Frankly, I am not crazy about the way my voice sounds on tape.

The voice I hear in my head sounds much different from the one I hear being played back on your tape recorder. I'm just positive that's not what I sound like. And if I don't like the way I sound on tape, why would anybody else?

Here's the second reason. As soon as your representative joins me on the line, I am going to make some scandalous observations about your company. I haven't yet decided upon the barrage of profanities I will unleash, but you may be sure that it will be particularly offensive and scathing. I will not limit myself to remarks about your company; I may, for example, riff on the marital status of your representative's own parents at the time of his or her birth. I might even drop the "F" bomb. I never have before, nor have I ever been tempted to. But I just might this time. And I simply do not believe these comments should be preserved on tape, where they might be played back at a criminal or civil trial of some kind—especially one where I am the defendant.

You want more reasons? Gosh, you're a difficult person to satisfy.

Let's be honest with each other, shall we? Everybody knows that tapes can be altered. This is the "untold secret" of recording—the ease and simplicity of the editing process. Let us imagine that I have uttered the following phrase into a tape recorder: "I love to sleep with my pajamas on and read novels about murderers and whores." Any fifth grader with a pair of pinking shears can chop out the middle section so that it sounds like I said, "I love to sleep with whores." And while the resulting comment might be true, it completely corrupts my original meaning. Innocent people have been condemned to the gallows on less evidence than that.

And so, I must remain steadfast on my original pronouncement, and refuse to allow you to record this conversation.

I hope this doesn't mean you won't tell me what the balance is on my utility bill.

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