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Teen cell phone voice mail greetings capture moods, ring of personality

Forget cell phones with zebra-striped covers, crystal keypads and distinctive rings. If you want a phone that captures your sense of style, change your voice mail.

DAILY Photo Illustration by Dan Henry
DAILY Photo Illustration by Dan Henry
Does your sense of humor ring of sarcasm? Is your personality hyper and shrill? You can find a greeting to reflect your mood and give callers a glimpse into your inner nature.

"It's an expression of who you are," Decatur High School freshman Hannah Hall said. She changes her voice mail every two weeks or whenever she gets bored.

She's experimented with many greetings, from ones that fooled callers into thinking she picked up, to those where she swapped out every other word with a friend. She recently added her favorite tunes. Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" picks up if you call her number now.

Voice mail set to music has its drawbacks, Hannah said. Some callers don't like the songs she picks; others don't realize that they can press 1 to skip the music and go straight to the beep. It can be a turnoff for the opposite sex.

"Guys never leave a message," she said. "They don't like talking to nobody."

Bored with predictable voice mail on his friends' phones, Joel Cobbs, 15, of Hartselle got creative. His goes like this:

"You've reached Joel's cell phone. If you are hearing this message, one of two things could have happened. One, I'm just not next to the phone right now. Or two, the rapture has occurred, and you have been left behind ..."

"Most of my friends who call for the first time end up laughing," Joel said.

The message tickled one guy so much he forgot why he called. Girls don't find it as amusing.

"Most of them think it's kind of weird," Joel said.

Austin High School sophomore Casey Brown uses a trick voice mail that fits her prankster personality. After several rings, she pretends to answer, then after a pause in which she urges callers to speak up, she asks them to leave a message.

"I've gotten messages where people are talking to me, and they don't realize that it's my machine," she said. "It's pretty funny. Friends fall for it the first time and the second and the third."

She gets voice mail messages about her voice mail, but she doesn't think the deceptive recording bothers friends.

"They expect it from me because of the kind of person I am," she said.

Brewer High School freshman Kindred Motes got so excited about getting his first cell phone that he "went a little overboard on the voice mail thing." He gave out all his information — e-mail address, home phone number, Web page and cell phone company provider — and ended with a 15-second snippet of Hilary Duff's "Come Clean."

"My friends complained about it," Kindred said, "They said that if they didn't know me, they could find out anything about me."

His mom persuaded him to pair it down to 9 instead of 59 seconds.

"She said that if someone had a lethal emergency and needed to leave a message, they would be dead before they could," Kindred said.

Greetings should be friendly but get to the point quickly, Hartselle High School freshman Judith Roberts said. Because minutes are precious to teens, voice mail should be short, sweet and not too silly or lewd, she said. Recordings that last longer than a minute might be entertaining, but only for so long.

"It's funny at first," Judith said, "but if you keep getting their voice mail, you don't want to sit there for five minutes and wait to leave a message."

Emily McMackin

TeenFRONT Editor

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