Like many people under 40, Leslie Horn used to hate voicemail. Why not just text, or let the "missed call speak for itself"? But after her dad died unexpectedly in July, she changed her tune, and she explains why on Gizmodo. After his death, her phone rang constantly, but she couldn't bring herself to answer every time. So people left her voicemails, and they functioned as a sort of blanket she could wrap around herself when she needed one. "Unlike Snapchat, or whatever ephemeral technology we're obsessed with for five minutes, my voicemails didn't disappear after one listen." And people say different things on voicemail than they'd say on an actual phone call: There's nothing to prompt or stop you as you speak, and somehow during the "uninterrupted stream of consciousness" ramblings, callers "find their way to the right words."
Even if you're not grieving, "voicemail is a default archive of your life." Think of all the funny or touching ones you've saved—heck, think of all the drunk dials you've saved. Plus, "sometimes, it's just good to hear someone's voice." And that brings Horn back to her dad. He had a habit of calling people—hundreds of people, some of whom he didn't even know well—on their birthdays and singing "Happy Birthday" to them. Of course, if his call went unanswered, he'd sing it to their voicemail. That's the sort of memory people have been sharing with Horn since her dad's death. And so one day she "poked around in my deleted folder and found my happy birthday message from last year, saved," she writes. "There it was! I hadn't meant to save it, but there it was." Click for her full column. (Read more voicemail stories.)