I despise automated telephone answering systems. There, I have said it, no more dancing around the subject. I loathe the digital demons. We should take all the automated answering systems in the country and use them to weigh down the sleds used at tractor pulls.

When the beep goes off, I hem and haw and forget what I wanted to say. I always suspect the party at the other end is really there and is sitting back laughing at my efforts to make contact. However, none of this compares with the frustration of getting the robo-automated answering system. Each time I call and get one, they force me to listen to a lengthy recitation of the office chain of command or a laundry list of options none of which relate to my problem.

If the machine will allow it, I go straight for the operator option, but this may not be so successful either.

“Is Mr. Mulvaney in?” I foolishly inquire.

“One moment please,” says the operator.

Notice, she did not actually respond to my question. Instead, I am whisked to Mr. Mulvaney’s machine.

Click, click, buzzzzzzz. “You have reached the desk of Morris Mulvaney. I am either on the phone, away from my office, or am screening my calls and don’t want to talk to you very much. You can leave a message after the beep, but it’ll be a frosty Friday before you hear from me.”

There you are. Mulvaney is not around; or he is around, but he is busy doing the crossword puzzle and is trying to think of a five-letter word for an Egyptian dam, and cannot be bothered. The only choice is to leave a message.

If Mr. Mulvaney’s digital marvels are working as they should, you are put on hold. Some hold systems play music while you wait, and by placing carefully selected calls to people who are too busy to talk, one can get the equivalent of an evening at the symphony without having to take a bath and get all dressed up.

In the 1880s, In New York City you could send a message to the Mr. Mulvaneys of the day by pressing a button in your house or office. This would ring a bell in an office several blocks away and in a few minutes a small boy in a blue serge uniform with brass buttons and a snappy cap would arrive at your door. You would hand him the message and he would hurry off to find Mr. Mulvaney come hell or high water.

Now there is a good idea. Just think of how many children we could get off the unemployment rolls and into a useful work experience, not to mention the growth spurt in the blue serge business which has been on the downturn ever since 1957, by which I mean 1961 or the last time we had the figures for Wyoming.

Happy birthday to Alicia Phea of Sherman; Ameyah Brown and Alaysia Brown, both of McKinney and Carl Bevels of Senora, Calif.

Happy anniversary to Ed and Pam Colvin of Sherman, 10 years.