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Leaving a message is not outdated regardless of advances in technology

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For students without cars, parents are often the source of travel when trying to get home for breaks. This is fine because it usually means no expense to the child and there’s often a free meal thrown in somewhere also. All of these things sound just wonderful as long as Mom or Dad know they’re supposed to be making the trip.

My junior year at the University of Missouri I worked the front desk of the building I had been living in for three years. It was a very laid back and low-key job. Answer the occasional question, sort the mail, make a birthday card, answer the phone if it ever rang – nothing too strenuous. At the beginning of the winter semester (January) a new freshman girl moved in who had just finished high school in December. Many residents – myself included – applauded her initiative and maturity amongst ourselves. However, as the months went on, it started to show that she wasn’t as mature as we had originally perceived.

On the Friday that kicked off Spring Break, I worked one of the final shifts at the front desk. The building itself would be shut down and locked up starting at 6 p.m., therefore most of the residents had already gone home and the few that were left were finishing up their packing. It was around 3 p.m. when New Freshman came downstairs in somewhat of a huff. Her cell phone had died and she left the charger for it at home the previous weekend.

Her mom was supposed to be picking her up to take her home, but she had no idea what time her mom would be arriving or if she had even left yet. She asked to borrow my cell phone to call her mom, which I let her do. When her mom didn’t answer she hung up and went back upstairs. It was shortly after this that I found out my cell phone was just one of many she had already borrowed that afternoon.

New Freshman came back downstairs and I asked if she had had any luck in getting in touch with her mom. She told me that her mom hadn’t answered any of her many attempts. I then asked if she had left a message. She said of course not because she didn’t have a phone. I pointed out that most people won’t answer unknown numbers and that she should try leaving a message so her mother knows that it’s her trying to call. New Freshman then argued with me that leaving a message wouldn’t do any good because she herself did not have a working phone. I calmed myself and then explained that if she left a message with her mother, her mother would then know she didn’t have a working phone and could try to contact her another way such as calling the front desk where I was currently stationed.

At this point the young undergraduate became annoyed with my (In my opinion) seemingly reasonable logic, said she didn’t appreciate being laughed at and stormed off – including slamming any door she could find. Now, I will admit that I did throw out a little guffaw when I said “How do you expect her to know your phone doesn’t work if you don’t leave her a message?” But I wouldn’t have called it laughing at her.

A lesson to all student travelers: If your cell phone dies and anyone is on their way to pick you up, at least leave them a message telling them the situation and where you’ll be to avoid the running-around-like-a-child-with-a-temper situation. Also, leave them a number at which you can be reached while you're waiting for your ride home.

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