You Have Reached Sarah Wellman

For Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send a story in the form of a voice mail message. Our winner was “Sorry for Your Loss.”

answering machine i i
iStockphoto.com
answering machine
iStockphoto.com

Oh, um, hey Sarah, this is Brad Davis from Slingshot and, um, I'm pleased —

Hold on: your greeting there on your voice mail kind of threw me off. Did it seriously say "you have reached Sarah Wellman. Please leave a message"? It did, didn't it? Wow. OK, I don't want to be rude, but, c'mon: "You have reached Sarah Wellman"? Seriously? I mean, isn't that exactly the opposite of what I've done? Because I have not reached you, Sarah Wellman. I obviously have not.

OK, anyway, no big deal, I suppose. Where was I? OK. This is Brad from Slingshot, and I was just meeting with the rest of our leadership group, and everyone thinks you would be a great addition, so we want to go ahead and —

No, wait. I just can't get past this voice mail thing. "You have reached Sarah Wellman." I know I don't know you very well, but why would you even say that? When I haven't reached Sarah Wellman? When, in fact, the precise point of your voice mail greeting is to let a caller know that he hasn't in fact, reached Sarah Wellman. You get that, right? That no one ever hearing that greeting would ever have reached Sarah Wellman?

OK, I'm sure I sound like I'm ranting. Trust me: this isn't how I expected this to go. See, the thing is, this position we are offering — we are considering you for — we were considering you for — it isn't just a design role. We discussed this, right? At the interviews? The design lead needs to be really fast and of course creative, with a strong portfolio, but really I'm looking for someone who is, I guess, versatile. That's actually what we all liked about you. You know we're small, we're in crazy start-up mode, so I'm looking to build a team of people with breadth, who can do more than just fill a job description.

You wouldn't just design. You might need to write copy. Some PR stuff. There's technical work, light coding, client-side scripting, which means robust logical thinking. It all requires precision, a kind of relentless
professional rigor. I thought you knew all this. Didn't we discuss all this? And, I'm sorry, but if you're telling me on your voice mail that I've reached Sarah Wellman, when I haven't — when that's exactly the one thing that hasn't happened — well, I'm just not sure how you would perform under those kinds of expectations. Can you be precise? Rigorous? With a greeting like that?

OK, total tangent — is your voice mail going to cut me off? — but do you know what my favorite class was as an undergrad, Sarah Wellman? Rhetoric. I'm actually a closet classicist. Long road from there to this tech stuff, sure, but it's all worked out pretty well. I remember this professor, Dr. Viiliczek, just hammering us on our language reflecting our logic. I can only image what Viiliczek would say about "You have reached Sarah Wellman." He'd probably chuck an eraser at you.

So. This is awkward, huh? I wish I could start over. Where's this leave us?

OK. Look, it's my company, and I'm calling it: I regret to let you know that we thought you were a strong candidate, but we're going to keep looking. Thanks for your interest in our design lead position. On behalf of the entire Slingshot Interactive Studios leadership team, I wish you the best of luck with your career. Thanks for your time, and sorry we couldn't work something out.

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