Tried Google Voice yet? I use it as my primary business phone number and it’s an amazing service. When a call comes in it simultaneously rings my cell phone, my desk phone, and any other phone I point it at. If a caller leaves a message, Google Voice lets me retrieve it in an app, over the phone, or over the web. They even make an automatic transcript and send it to your phone and your email.
And that’s where it gets…umm…interesting. The transcripts are remarkably good considering they are machine generated but they aren’t 100% accurate. Sometimes they are pure gibberish but other times the substituted words result in a message that is syntactically and grammatically correct but definitely NOT what your caller intended.
I received one of those messages today. According to the transcription what my caller said was “I have a penis until 5:30 and I’ll call you after.”
That’s just wrong, and on so many levels.
First of all, the presence or absence of a penis seems like an odd criteria by which to decide whether to call someone. For sexting them, sure. But “I do have a penis == Don’t call T.Rob” vs. “I don’t have a penis== Do call T.Rob”? Although I do have to admit it’s much better than the usual alternative: “I have a computer problem == Call T.Rob.”
Of course in this case it wasn’t really presence or absence but a state change that was the criteria. Now I do have a couple of friends from whom news of such a state change would not be surprising and if I get that news someday I’ll be happy for them and supportive. But it doesn’t seem like the kind of medical procedure you spring back up from and start making calls minutes later. “Hey, you’ll never guess what I just did…”
But I don’t know how these things work. Maybe this actually is an outpatient operation these days. Maybe they keep you awake for the operation like brain surgery, touching electrical probes to nerves in the, uh, affected area and ask questions. “Do you feel like a woman when I touch the probe here? No? How about here?” I don’t think that’s how it works but assuming it is, am I really the first person you call the moment you are penis-less? Who the hell else is on that call list and on what basis did you sort it so I ended up on top?
Last I heard, the person in question was female so she couldn’t have had a penis very long. A matter of days at most. So how do we get to “I have a penis until 5:30”? Is there a showroom somewhere where they fit you up with a loaner boner for the day and if so who runs it? Because when it comes to my private parts the last company I want to deal with is one named Hertz. But I really would like to see that showroom. Not due to any particular fascination with penii, but because I have to know what the options are. Obviously they only sell convertibles at this agency. Is there a leather option package for your new package? Is there a per-mile charge? What’s the price difference between the compact and luxury models? Do they offer Hummers?
As I said I’ve only known this person as female so if she’s going to call me on the occasion of parting ways with her penis it seems odd I wasn’t called on the occasion that she acquired it. That would be slightly awkward since I’m not gay. “Hey guess what – I have a penis now and you are the first person I called!” But at least there would be symmetry. Instead the first I hear she’s got a penis is an hour before she doesn’t have it again. It’s like she has Schroedinger’s Dick. The penis is both there and not there but taking a look resolves it into a stable state. Which, come to think of it, is how most of them work. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. On sufficiently close examination it resolves it into a stable state right before your eyes. That was the one thing about which Heisenberg was completely certain.
This all flew through my head in about five short seconds which somehow felt like an eternity while I stared frozen and dumbstruck at the email. If that transcript is even halfway accurate, I’ve just entered the Twilight Zone. I couldn’t sign onto Google Voice fast enough. Turns out the message was from a friend who gives piano lessons in her home. What she actually said was “I have piano students until 5:30 and I’ll call you right after.”
Whew, that’s a relief. I’m not in the Twilight Zone after all. And it also suggests an answer to the question of where Google’s transcription tech comes from. I’d always assumed they developed it in-house. Now I think they may have acquired an existing transcription company. I always wondered whatever happened to Dictaphone.
Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with nor have I received any incentive from Snap-On Tools in consideration of this post.
Fuller disclosure: Any similarity to actual penii, whether living or running for national office, is purely intentional. If you think this post was about you, it is. No penises were harmed in the writing of this post although several got bent out of shape over the puns.
Full to overflowing disclosure: The word penis, in singular or plural, occurs 15 times in this post of slightly less than 1,000 words and thus comprises a bit more than 1.5% of the text. In the hands of a skilled editor that proportion expands to comprise approximately 4% of the text.
Painfully full disclosure: If this post stays up for more than 4 hours, call a doctor.