My proofreader, Heidi, left me a voicemail. A text transcription below the notification read, “Hi. I sent your proofed column back, but I haven’t heard from you. I wanted to make sure you received it. Love you!”
During the 20 years we’ve worked together, Heidi has left countless messages for me. They sometimes start out with, “Love you,” but then continue with “to quit being so redundant, to get a new proofreader, or to stop calling me before noon.”
No, this message ended with “Love you!”
How long had she felt this way — and how had I missed the cues? I’ll admit, there were signs that the relationship had taken a turn from professional to personal. We talk endlessly about run-on sentences. Our discussions about dependent clauses are co-dependent. Any time verbs come up, it gets tense, but spacing issues draw us closer together.
In all our conversations, I swear I never once ended a sentence with a proposition.
Apple’s software often misunderstands, or leaves out words, like this version of my sister’s call last week:
“Thanks for your email. I’ll try you again later. I’m with my new boyfriend and I can’t talk until we finish ___.” That blank area was like getting dirty Mad Libs on my cellphone.
When people leave a voicemail using my name “Dick,” the transcription usually says “Jake.” “Hi, Jake, it’s Bob. Want to meet for lunch today?” Obviously, I’m not Jake, but was that really Bob? It could have been Rob. Or Andrew or Matt. Who knows? I have to listen to the actual audio version, which is what I should have done first, anyway.
I put Heidi’s message on speaker phone so Mary Ellen and I could both hear it: “Hi. Dick, I sent your proofed column back, but I haven’t heard from you. I wanted to make sure you received it. Adios!”
Then, I told Heidi how her message was transcribed from “Adios” to “Love you.” She thought that was hysterical. Now, she ends all our phone conversations with a sarcastic “Love you,” which was funny the first time, but we talk three or four times a day.
Now, when I get a message from my wife and the text translation says, “I love you,” I’m going to listen to the VM immediately to be sure she isn’t divorcing me with an “Adios.”
After each message, Apple asks if its transcription was useful. I responded today: “Dear Apple: No, I hate it. Please discontinue that service. Love you. Your friend, Jake.