Here's a fun little story for you. So, as you may (or may not) know, I am in the middle of a consulting project. Basically, this project consists of calling a lot of European businessmen to get information about something. I'm not going to go into specifics because I don't want to get in trouble for saying something I shouldn't. For this story you don't need to know specifics.
Day 70 or so of our project. We had spent the first 70 days preparing, creating the schedule, the template of questions, talking with the company, going on winter break, and waiting on answers from important people etc. So, day 70 rolls around and I'm thinking, "Great! We get to actually move forward and start calling people!"
My first phone call went like this:
ring..... ring..... "Hello?" Blah blah blah, I say who I am and what I'm calling for. He says, "What are you talking about?" My first panic attack sets in. Oh my God, these people (who were supposed to know about our project) have no idea. Quickly, and calmly I try explaining the deal. "Oooohhhhh, yeah, I remember. Well, for that I actually am not the right person to answer these questions." I end up getting another number and then call that person. This time it goes well.
Next phone call:
ring...ring...ring...ring...(start mentally preparing the message I'm going to leave) ring...ring...(start thinking it's taking a long time for voicemail to pick up) ring...ring...(maybe they are on the other line or something, therefore voicemail isn't working)ring...ring... I hang up. I then say to my teammates, three of whom are Italian, "Wow, that rang forever."
Then in a joking manner I said, "They probably don't have voicemail or something."
I said this assuming that I was completely wrong because, what business person would not have voicemail? Everyone, especially people who work at important companies, has to have voicemail, right? WRONG. Instead of making everyone laugh, like I thought I would with my "probably don't have voicemail" statement I was met with three very serious faces saying, "No. No one has voicemail."
This is when I went into shock and then said, "WHAT?! They don't have voicemail?! Are you kidding me?!" No, no, no. They weren't and I knew what that meant. It meant having to call and actually catch someone while they are at their desk. It meant the project taking longer because of all the time I'm/we are going to spend hearing the phone ring forever. It meant me having to adjust to the European way.
By the way, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing. In fact, I think it makes sense. I mean, I think many Americans dread going to work in the morning for fear of all the voicemails they have. Maybe we should all adopt the no-voicemail rule.