India has two kinds of people; those who understand how to handle voicemail and those who don’t. The vast majority, don’t. I know! I have voicemail setup on my cellphone and 80% of the times all I get is garbage when I dial in to check my voicemail.
Half the times, I hear static.
The other times…
“Hello, hello, hello….HELLO” and then the phone is cut.
“To Bhavin Bhavin sangtoy, pan kai bolat nahin (He keeps saying Bhavin, Bhavin, but nothing else…)
“Yeh kya system hai kuch samajtha nahin hai” (I don’t understand what system this is).
“Saala, apne aap ko samajhta kya hai” (What does he think of himself). This is usually (I think) when the person who is calling thinks he has already disconnected.
I would think that a voicemail is the simplest way of leaving a message. But apparently what may seem simple to me may not be so for many others. People like my wife, who don’t check their voicemails for days on end, are partly to blame and I also know friends who just can’t bring themselves to speak to empty air or to a machine and therefore hang up. And the rest probably just don’t understand what this is all about!
I am often at my wit’s ends!
To make sure that I don’t go mad with phone calls, SMSes, etc, I prioritize. I don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers (I have talked about this before and I know that many of you just don’t agree). Whenever I am with someone, or in a meeting or during dinnertime or when running or after 9.30PM, I don’t pick up the phone as well. And yet because of the demands of my work and as a matter of basic courtesy, I make it a point to respond to all calls and SMSes that I get!
SMSes are simple. Even if you don’t know who is texting you, you can reply back, without significant downtime. But with calls…each time an unknown caller does not leave voicemail, the effort involved in trying to find out who that person is becomes quite significant.
I have had this argument with a few friends as well and many of them genuinely don’t like to leave voicemails. Fair enough! And in any case if I know who has called, it doesn’t matter – I can text or call back! But in today’s day and age, people calling for the first time should not take it for granted that their calls will be answered…if they can’t leave a voicemail, they should at least then send an SMS to say who they are and what they want.
When we had only landlines, the world was different. All calls had to be answered, because you never knew who was calling and how important or not the call was. Voicemail and caller ID systems for landlines never did catch on in our country and people usually didn’t call at unearthly hours unless it was urgent. Today, too many people expect you to be available at all times because you have a cellphone. And while you can be a hermit and not carry a cellphone, I would rather use technology to beat technology and still have a life! Voicemails and SMSes allow us to better handle our time as compared to picking up the phone each time it rings.
A friend of mine who uses voicemail has this message for callers…“You know what to do!” And then comes the beep for leaving the voice message! Cool!