Several months ago a friend of mine got himself a new cell phone and phone number. Not only due to force of habit, but also because I am sure many of his friends, like myself, had his old number on speed dial, many of us were obviuosly still calling him on his old number. Though his old number was still active until the the contract run out, and though he could see the calls come in, he did not answer the old phone. He would then, at least in my case, remind me every time he would return my call to his old phone from his new phone and say “when are you going to get it right and call me on my new number?”
Eventually, I removed the old number from my cell phone and plugged in the new number. Though I know many of his friends did the same thing, I have a feeling his out bound message was made just for me. When I finally got through for the first time to his new number, and he wasn’t there to answer it, I heard the following, “Congratulations, you have reached me on my new number…”
I laughed and proceeded to leave a message in response to his outbound message, something clever and funny, to be sure, though I cannot recall what that was, so many months ago. The fact that it was so many months ago, brings me to why I am posting this blog at this point, so many months later. Now that months have passed, his old cell phone and number are no longer active, in fact, someone else owns the old number now. My friend, like many of us, and definitely myself included, has not changed his outbound message, which still says, “Congratulations you have reached me on my new…”
Every time I have called him in the past several months and not gotten him but gotten his outbound message, I have ignored what he says and just left the message I would have left no matter what his outbound message was. Today was different. Today I found myself surprised that the outbound message was so outdated and irrelevant. So, without mentioning his outbound message, I said something to the effect of “Congratulations for having been able to retrieve my message from your new phone…” Funny to him, to be sure.
It occurred to me that my friend, when he eventually hears my message, might have no idea that I was refering to, and answering to his outbound message, and message he has probably long forgotten he has on his phone service. I tried to recall what it was that I have on my own outbound message and I couldn’t remember, it isn’t something I ever hear, because I don’t call myself. So, if someone said something, funny or not, directly in reference to my outbound message, I might not get where they are coming from.
Kinda like this. Have you ever honked at someone who had a bumper sticker on their car that said something like, “Honk if you love Jesus,” and had them give you the finger after you honked at them? They had completely forgotten they had that bumper sticker on their car.
Why this was relevant for me was because, last night, I saw a friend who I hadn’t seen me in a long time, many years in fact. This friend was relating to me in a very odd way. And though I am usually kind and understanding, and I was last night, and was actually enjoying myself, but I just couldn’t understand my friend’s behaviour. If finally dawned on me today after this episode with another friend’s outbound voice message what was happening last night.
My friend, who I had not seen in a long time, was treating me in response to the way I used to treat him years before, up until the last time I had seen him. I had long since changed and no longer was that person, so much so that I couldn’t even relate to the vibe my friend was giving. I looked at him a bit oddly at times throughout the evening, and he would say to me, “What?” as if not understanding why I would think what he said or did was odd.
Like my friend’s outbound voice message, or mine for that matter, I had completely forgotten what I used to say, or what vibration I was putting out years ago and was taken back by the “response” I was getting to what I had asked, said, done, so many years ago. For all I know, my outbound message might still be the same, in other words, I might still be “saying” all the same things I used to, though I don’t necessarily believe them anymore or understand them the same way, or just hadn’t gotten around to changing my way of saying, or being. In other words, my bumper might still be saying, “Honk if you love Jesus.”
Time for me to scrape off all my bumper stickers and change my outbound messages on all my means of communications, digital and/or not. What’s your outbound message saying?