HEARING VOICES

I’ve been hearing voices. Lately I’ve started listening to audio books when I’m driving (I drive a lot because the Fab Four has to go to school, part-time jobs, friends’ houses, gym … you know, the whole unpaid chauffeur routine). Two weeks ago it was That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott; this week, it’s Shopaholic Gets Married by Sophie Kinsella. A big genre variation, I know … but, I’m not apologising!

It fascinates me when the actor reading the book puts on different voices to differentiate characters. Often they do it remarkably well, seamlessly weaving in male-female, accents, ages and even class distinctions. Clever. Do you have friends who do the same thing when they tell you stories? Use boy voices and girl voices when they tell you what he said and she said? I do. I won’t out them here, but it goes a bit like this.

Bella
Sometimes I think my cat hears voices.

Starts with normal voice. “And then I said, ‘You never take the rubbish out?’ And you won’t believe what he said. He said (puts on deep voice), ‘I take you out, don’t I, he he he?’ (switches to normal voice) And then I said, (adds a heavy hint of sarcasm) ‘Very funny.’ (back to normal voice) He thinks he’s gonna get away with that? And then he goes, (puts on deep voice) ‘Just jokes, babe’ (back to normal voice) and I go, ‘Apology not accepted.’ He’s so in the dog house tonight.”

Ever notice that in these stories, the person telling them always uses a nice, calm voice to relay their words, but over-exaggerates the other person? I was listening to one acquaintance the other day doing just this and he reminded me so much of someone else that I thought, “Like, they should totally be together”. Forgive me. I’d been hanging around teenagers.

All this got me to thinking about the voices I use. One in particular. Not the screaming banshee ones I absolutely never use with the Fab Four or the naggy, whiny one I swear-to-goodness I never use with Blue Eyes. I mean the telephone voice. No, not that telephone voice. The “Calling the Telephone Company” voice.

Am I the only one who automatically defaults to a mean no nonsense voice when they get an automated voice for customer service? I’m ashamed to admit it, and I can’t really explain why since Sausage brought me up to be polite and nice … but something about those robotic voices brings out The Mean Voice.

Telephone company that starts with T: “In a couple of words, please say what you’re calling about.”

Me: “OPERATOR!”

Telephone company that starts with T: “I’m sorry, we didn’t understand that. In a couple of words, please say

what you’re calling about.”

Me: “OPERATOR!!”

Telephone company that starts with T: “You said o-vul-a-tor. Press one if correct or two if incorrect.”

Me: “NO! OPERATOR! OPERATOR!” (Jabs number two. Hard.)

Silence.

Telephone company that starts with T: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. In a couple of words, please say what you’re calling about.”

(Do you hear that sneering tone? Deep breath.)

Me: “Operator.” This squeezes out through gritted teeth.

Telephone company that starts with T: “You said o-per-a-tor. Is that correct? Press one if correct or two if incorrect.”

Press one. Hard.

Telephone company that starts with T: “Thank you for calling phone company that starts with a T. Please tell the operator what you are calling about …”

Blue Eyes says he uses a resigned I’m-talking-to-a-robot voice that tails off with a sigh. I think of it as an Eeyore-style “my life sucks because I have to talk to a robot” voice.

Telephone company that starts with T: “In a couple of words, please say what you’re calling about.”

Blue Eyes: Sighs heavily. “Operator…”

Telephone company that starts with T: “I’m sorry, you need to say that in a happy voice.”

Can you relate? Do you hear yourself talking in funny voices when you’re sharing stories? Or when you’re talking to a robot?