Your call is being recorded

Seems that every other call I make to any company, for any reason, whether United Airlines, Target Department Store or my little tennis club in suburban Sydney... I hear this message.

"Your call is important to us," then somewhere in the electronic greeting I hear, "your call will be recorded for training and coaching purposes." And usually I'm ok with that. After all, I want companies to improve, especially the next time I ring them. [That said, I wish they would have recorded the last phone call and then improved in their service to me today.]

Because of 'privacy' matters, they also end their pre-recordings with "If you don't wish to have your conversation recorded, just let us know when we answer." Now that I'm thinking about it, over the years, there would be so many conversations with companies, in fact, with so many people, that I wish were not recorded, or which could be accessed and amended.

I remember the controversy surrounding the American president, Richard Milhaus Nixon, in 1972-1973. He had already been the Veep under Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. Then he ran against John Kennedy and lost in 1960's first-ever TV election. He sat on the sideline, and in 1968 took his turn to run again, this time against the Democratic Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Nixon won easily. The country was going mad with Vietnam, hippies, and inflation up to 2%. We needed a change, and in came Nixon. 'Trickie Dick' some called him.

By now, if you didn't live in that era, or in that country, you would have had ample opportunity to see several almost-documentary movies whether it's David Frost's interviews or Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in "All the President's Men." The story includes 18 minutes of erased tapes from conversations in the Oval Office in the White House. What was on those tapes? We won't know. Maybe the president simply said, "I'd rather my call was not recorded today."

His end was nigh, as a result of those missing minutes, and he humbly and sadly left office yielding the presidency to Gerald Ford, who was never elected to either President or Vice-President, but served as both.

The tale of missing minutes; the reminder that sometimes you can erase what you don't want to have said... I'm thinking that I would love to have that button somewhere in my life, to rewind and make the right choice, or to say the right thing, instead of what actually came out of my mouth. I live in a series of regrets so often, it's painful.

OK, maybe I never lost the presidency of the US because of such erasures, but I imagine I've lost friendships, or at least I've lost face in front of family and friends, and people I don't even know!

The Proverbs remind us "In a multitude of words, transgression is unavoidable." (10.19) So it's better to quit speaking, rather than continue speaking and look for the erasing elements later. The saying ends with "he who restrains his lips is wise." I would love to live in that wisdom.

What about you? Would you rather your call is not recorded at all? Will you watch your words more carefully tomorrow? Can you pray for me to ensure that my lips don't cause me pain tomorrow?

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