Have you ever had the experience where you were calling someone and hoping that you wouldn't actually talk to them but just get the voice mail? I definitely feel this way sometimes... maybe it's because you have a little bit of bad news, you are turning down an invitation to do something and you don't want to get talked out of it, or you don't have a lot of time to talk and just want to deliver the message without a full conversation. I think it would be so great if somehow you could call someone but then press a button that allowed you to go straight to voice mail instead of actually ringing their phone.
So why do we make calls when we don't actually want to talk to someone? I guess it's sort of a tug-of-war between our desire to deliver some message (out of a sense of duty? something we need to get done even though we don't want to?) and our desire to not talk to someone (because we want more freedom with our time? because we want to save face while delivering bad news?).
Now, it is true that through my voice mail system I can send voice messages to others... but it only works if that person happens to be on the same voice mail system as me, meaning we have the same phone company. Otherwise I get a message that the voice mail could not be delivered.
What would be some messages that we would rather deliver by voice mail only? Here are some possibilities:
"After putting some thought into it, I've decided not to accept your proposal of marriage."
"Remember the car? I mean, the car we used to have?"
"Just to let you know, the cops are on the way to your house..."