Voicemail Instructions And The Silliness Of Them

Let me continue to step into this new category for my writing—things that make you go hmmmm. This one however, makes me want to get a little vocal in the moment. Only in the brief moment, and maybe for a few moments as I write this post. You will think it is silly at first. And maybe a little outdated on second thought, because who really cares anymore. I am talking about voicemail. And not the topic of voicemail no, I am talking about the voicemail prompts that cell phone companies created to help people know what to do with technology.

man-with-phone-troubleI barely have time to make phone calls, much less for somebody to not pick up the phone. Now, if I wait through all of that and still have something essential enough and long enough that it requires more than a text message to convey, I have to wait another moment for the lady to tell me what to do.

Hold on. I know… I know; that sounds a little sexist, but usually the voice is a manufactured female voice that explains the procedures of voice mail. Which if you think about it, who needs to be given the procedures of voice mail in the year 2014. Maybe learning a VCR was hard, but don’t we know how to use voicemail by now. Wait for the beep. Yes, that is the key. Wait for the beep. Wait for that thing that indicates the recording will begin…now. And at that point, go. Begin saying anything you want. Okay, that seems basic enough. Is this still new for people? Is it important enough to still be included in the beginning of voicemails? And yes, I know that the instructions go further than informing people of the beep that is coming to indicate the point in which a message can be left. And maybe some of my angst in these special prompts comes from the fact that it is harder to fake out the incoming caller that you are actually picking up their call. Perhaps the instructions serve one if muted, vital service to the community. All righty then, After the beep instructions, there are other things that can be helpful. Now, when you are satisfied with your message, you can either hit a button to do more things with your message or merely hang up. It might be nice to have options for how to leave your message, urgent, important, hilarious, serious, Quixotic or whatever options these newfangled cell phones do with my voice mails.

Questions: How many people even use these options when leaving a voice mail? And Does anyone pay attention when they are   given an urgent voice mail. Shouldn’t every voice mail I leave be urgent for my friend, family member, co-worker or random person I met at the meeting from yesterday? I mean I have important information to pass along. At least it is important to me. But I don’t have time to push a special button to convey the urgency of my message. Okay, so there are unnecessary, but interesting options that I can be informed of regarding my voice mail. And there might be one helpful one. This is what to do when I am not satisfied with the message I want to leave, which happens a lot. Okay, Okay, there might be a slight but unessential need for the voice mail manual. I might want to know what to do when I leave a rambling, unintelligible voice mail. In that case, why can’t we get something uniform, so that every direction can be the same. Press 2 if you are interested in changing your voice mail. Then we could get it into the common practices of every one using the phone. Maybe this is why the kids these days are bypassing voicemail altogether and going straight for texting.


But really, the time wasted waiting for the menu of options and instructions on how to use a simple piece of technology could be used for far better things in this world. If we added up all the time flushed down the drain while we wait to leave a message, we could probably quantify the number as unimaginable, which raises other far more important questions. Questions of the utmost importance beginning with this one. What could we do with this time:

  • Save the world
  • Stop sharks from being over fished for the fins.
  • Put an end to terrorism.
  • Bring down the price of higher education.
  • Produce renewable energy.
  • Pass out shoes to everyone in the inner city in need of shoes.
  • Find healthy families for the growing number of unwanted kids in our country.
  • And the list goes on.

I mean we could do some incredible things if we did not have to waste our time waiting to leave a message. Oh, but you say, you can push a button to skip those instructions. Can I? First, I have to wait to listen to what number I can push, if that cell provider even offers a short cut key. Then I have to memorize which number works for which company, and which friends use which providers. This is just too much work. I want to begin something new. I want to change the world. And this is where I am going to start. Could we start a movement that would call for the elimination of pointless instructions?

What else is overly pedantic or pointless when it comes to instructions?

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