Many years ago an old friend of mine used to listen into other people's voice-mails. Life and phones were simpler back then. But it isn't until now, writing this piece that she was in no way simpler, yet ahead of her time in a creepy sense. March of this year was the first time I ever put a password onto my voice messages and that was simply because I was bored waiting for a late train. The messages I do receive are sadly just mates at table quizzes with no Internet access on their phones, "Carol, pick up, what's the capital of Italy" or my sister Sarah playing a crap song she's just heard on the radio like Londonbeat "I've been thinking about you." There are never any messages with the words "I will die without you, don't let me die you creature of perfection" in them.
But my mate had a penchant for listening to ex boyfriends voice-mails. Her technique involved the hash button, a few zero's and the star button on a phone. Through a series of messages she could piece together their every move, well pub move at least. I often thought her exes were following her to these places unaware that she was accessing their voice-mails and knew where they would be that night. She knew if they had dates, if they were in relationships, if they had been off sick from work, if they were late for a meeting or if they were skipping the gym. She even learned that one of these guys was engaged long before he told her.
I naively thought that she had quite a few healthy, no hard feelings, relationships with her past flings and loves and had simply gathered the information, that she would then relay back to me, from conversations with them. One on one conversations.
But it didn't add up - how did she know that James had received a promotion when he was ignoring her at the bar. How did she know that Tony had a knee injury when their fling ended badly. And how did she know that my date had cancelled one evening when I hadn't even informed her I had a date in the first place?
One night a man approached me with his phone number. She pulled it from my hands and went "I'll check him out for you," a smug toothy grin across her face. I thought nothing of it until the next morning she called, "All I could gather was that he has a friend called Jason." Upon some weak cross examination, she admitted to listening into other peoples voice-mails. In fact if she had your phone number and you had no password, chances are she knew if your dinner was going cold. "We're all naturally nosey, I just have a way of calming some of this nosiness," she protested in defence. She accompanied this protestation with a loud unnecessary cackle when I called her a "weirdo," just before I hung up on her.
The thought then crossed my mind for a selection of seconds on whether to have one listen into the voicemail of the man who had cancelled our date, the guy with the friend called Jason and two ex boyfriends. Instead I just listened into my messages and deleted every voicemail that made me sound slightly pathetic just in case the "weirdo" was to have another listen in.