I know what readers want—to be reminded (or “editor-splained”) when they’re doing something wrong, and how to fix it. Example: In a recent column, I instructed you on the proper way to write me emails. (Stop writing the entirety of your letter in the subject heading! You’re not helping your case!) You also seem to need advice in another area of reader/editor communication: VOICEMAILS. As always, I’m overjoyed to provide the education you so desperately need.

VOICEMAIL TIP #1: Give me a reason to call you back.

Here’s a voicemail I recently received: “Hey, Wm. Steven Humphrey! I have a story for you that’s absolutely bananas! Call me back!” I WILL NEVER CALL YOU BACK. Why? Because when I do, your story will most likely be about how you’ve trained your cat to catch Frisbees. True, that is bananas, but I was hoping for something a bit more... newsworthy? However! If your story is about Mayor Ted Wheeler running an illegal “Frisbee-catching cat training ring”? OH, I will DEFINITELY call you back. Just tell me a little bit more about the story in your voicemail, okay?

VOICEMAIL TIP #2: Don’t fucking freak me out.

“Hello, Mr. Humphrey. Todd Bilson here. 555-5555. Call me back.” I WILL NEVER CALL YOU BACK. Sure, you could be the Todd Bilson with a hot scoop about Ted Wheeler’s illegal Frisbee cat training camp, or you could be the Todd Bilson who wants to describe in excruciating detail how he wants to insert his hand into my rectum, pull out my intestines, feed me those same intestines, and repeat the entire process on an infinite, never-ending loop. Just tell me what you want, Todd Bilson.

VOICEMAIL TIP #3: Don’t be like Susan.

Susan (who didn’t provide her real name, but sounded like a “Susan”) recently left me FIVE VOICEMAILS IN A ROW that varied in length from 1:32 to 5:46 and started like this: “Wm. Steven Humphrey, you Nazi faggot sonofabitch.” [I’ll admit she had my attention.] “If you have a problem with the US constitution, you need to leave or DIE.” She then went on—again for FIVE VOICEMAILS—about how (A) I shouldn’t make fun of conspiracy theorists, (B) I’m responsible for the murder of true patriots, (C) there’s going to be a second American revolution (which will apparently “NOT go well” for me), and (D) she “won’t feel sorry for faggots [like ME!] who are going to burn.”

Okay, Susan: Five voicemails are too much. You could’ve said all that in one carefully thought-out, 60-second message. (Also, I could feel your energy for killing liberal faggots fading about halfway through voicemail number three.) Oh, and bonus tip: Be sure to leave your name and phone number so I can call you back or report you to the cops for hate crimes and death threats. I know! It’s always the most obvious things we forget!

In any case, thanks to everyone for letting me know how you feel. I want to do a good job, and your feedback helps get me there. (Reminder, I don’t read Facebook comments because it is a garbage site, so email me at steve@portlandmercury.com or leave an INFORMATIVE, NOT TOO LONG voicemail at 503-294-0840—unless you’re Todd Bilson. I never want to hear from you.)

Yer communicative pal,
Wm. Steven Humphrey
Portland Mercury