In our office, we have a phone line that is connected to our staff, and also a phone line that is connected to an answering machine with the following message:
"This is an answering service that serves to take messages for many people. Please leave your name, the name of the person you wish to reach, your number, and a brief message, and it will be given to them."
Anyone can use this number to recieve messages from employers, doctor's offices or worried mothers if they do not have a phone of their own. We recieve a wide variety of messages on this line such as...
"Thanks for making me waste a mother f***ing 50 cents. I want to talk to a real f***ing person."
"Hi... um... this is Tasha... I was calling to let Grant Carrol know that he was a father."
"Anna Gretz this is your Grandma. I don't know if I called the right number for you but I was wondering if you would like to come over for dinner tonight."
and the message that we recieved yesterday: "Hello, this is Dave, and I'm calling on behalf of Derek Jordan... you might know him as 'R&B'. He was working for me today on some painting and he... well, he fell off the building. We were trying to contact someone, and this is the number he left for emergencies. Call me back if you can, my number is 5..."
My co-worker and I listened to the message about 5 times, asking other people for 2nd opinions, trying to get the number that Dave left to contact him. Of course we know R&B! And we were scared for his life. I tried at least half of the millions of possible combinations of seven numbers beginning with a 5 asking for Dave, but never got through. Our afternoon was ruined with visions of R&B in a coma (splattered with paint).
Later in the afternoon Derek R&B Jordan waltzed onto the floor, cleaned up (and clean shaven) with all his limbs and faculties intact (which is how he prefers it, thank you very much). There was an immediate spontaneous outburst of gratitude for his life, prompting confusion from R&B.
"What? What's the deal."
"R&B we thought you were dead!"
"I fell off a building."
"How'd you know?"
"Dave? Oh... he called you guys? That was real nice. Because you guys are all I've got. This is home base, you know? This is where my stuff's at. This is where my people's at. Who else would I call?"
(We suggested the staff phone number instead of the message line.)