Published on November 9, 2021

If you’re looking for me, voicemail message won’t help

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

There is a new posting on social media about changing voicemail messages.

If you are stranded in a broken-down vehicle, lost while hiking, or any circumstance that could make you lose your ability to call for help, just change your voicemail.

Provide location, time, and any other pertinent information. This will be available to callers even if your cell phone battery is dead, or you can’t get a signal. It seems like a great and practical idea some cell phone junkie thought of, and it is being reposted frequently.

Except, my luck and technical knowledge about cell phones could defeat this great idea.

I have never recorded a voicemail of any kind, and I often must recharge my phone in my car. I can see myself driving down the road to go hiking while the phone remains plugged into the USB port to charge, but it doesn’t, because I am using one of my new $20 cords from Amazon that won’t work with my iPhone.

I don’t know why, it just says it’s not compatible.

Then I’d go to voicemail to update the recording, and my phone gives a little gasp and dies. Or, it has just enough charge, but can’t find a signal.

I guess you need to record the voicemail before leaving home and then frantically answer all calls except spam and unknown callers. But what if the unknown callers are trying to locate you for some reason because they are looking for you?

Or, I can imagine some car warranty people tracking me down in some desolate location and offering me water and food only if I buy their extended car warranty.

There is another pitfall to recording a location-specific message. Putting that type of information out there before embarking on my hiking adventure would be a revelation to my friends and family.

“How sweet - he’s finally working on that cardio and getting his steps in,” they would think. They would then wait several days to check on me. Meanwhile, I’d be lying out on some desolate hiking trail, carrion for the buzzards and other scavengers.

There is a better solution. If you really want to save me, tell me not to go.

There is no way I could carry a backpack large enough to keep me fed and watered for several days. Use your knowledge and save me by strongly urging me not to go.

Or, realize that the fact that I’m going hiking probably means I’ve been kidnapped. Call 911 and then call the FBI. Kidnapping is a federal, as well as a state, crime in Texas. I want the feds involved in a massive search.

Seriously, I wonder if the young man driving home from San Marcos to Houston had used this feature, would he be alive today? Occasionally, even Facebook can do a good thing.

Now would be a suitable time for me to learn how to change my voicemail message.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)