Which is worse – being disconnected from an electronic phone tree or a poke in the eye with a sharp stick?
Yes, yes, of course. I’d much rather be cut off from a phone tree – I think.
But a cost-benefit analysis is in order.
Let’s see, I can receive a painful injury – or I can hang up, redial, listen carefully again to the menu since it has changed recently, select an option, select another option, wait, be thanked for waiting, be told how important my call is, wait and be reminded that I can leave these harried robots alone and solve my own problems online – which I could not, by the way, explaining why I’m calling this flippin’ ‘customer service’ number in the first place!
This time through the cycle, I get to speak with Megan, a lovely live person who is sorry for my inconvenience. We agree that she will transfer me to her supervisor since the two previous calls I made this week – two prior expeditions through the computerized minefields of listening, waiting, button-pushing and reassuring – yielded no relief despite Andrew’s and Lily’s and now Megan’s best efforts.
Yes! Thank you so much, Megan! Put your supervisor on the line!
And that’s when the line went dead.
I didn’t kill my handset at that point, though a surge of adrenalin made the suggestion: Just throw it! Smash it! Go ahead! Stomp it to smithereens! Sure, you’ll be mad at yourself later, but it will feel SO good right now!
But I didn’t do those things a lesser person might do. I swallowed my chill pill. I took a couple of deep breaths, then – redial, push, push, listen, wait – ah! Here we are! Now Serena offers the option of letting a supervisor call ME back!
I’m liking that option. Yes! I’ll be right here, next to the handset which, I must admit, looks about as nervous as an inanimate object can look.
But sure enough, within a very few minutes, the phone rings! Hallelujah! I grab the handset and gush with the anticipation of medieval prisoner about to be released from the rack: “Hello!” only to hear an ‘urgent’ recorded message about solar energy, or chimney sweeping, or OMG, I think I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick!!
Of course in the big picture these problems don’t warrant the agitation they arouse. I mean it’s not as though I’m being held like Malcolm McDowell in ‘Clockwork Orange,’ my eyes peeled open with tiny clamps, forced to watch people play poker on TV. No one’s making me listen to Mitch McConnell review the Republican agenda. I’m not being compelled to play bunko.
But still. It’s a pain in the patoot.
Two hours gone and Serena’s supervisor hasn’t called. She must still be engaged with another customer who, like me, is multi-tasking: Waiting for Godot while whittling a twig down to a needle point.
I know. I’ll go to the gym. I’ll work out while I wait on hold. I’ll sweat out my exasperation. What a mature, healthy, responsible thing to do.
But there’s a man on the rowing machine next to mine who hasn’t seen his grandchildren since Christmas. They live in Turlock with their mother. Little Jimmy is six and smart as a whip. John Jr. likes to make Lego triceratops and is sure to be a pilot one day.
Kill me. Just kill me now.
I know. I am become a crank. He’s a WWII vet and lovely man and I agree that his former daughter-in-law should let those boys spend more time with their dad. So what if they miss a few days of school? Schools these days are loosey-goosey! Back in his day lessons taught something useful – not all this ‘independent thinking’ baloney.
I think I’ll try the stair master. It can’t be any more painful.
But here in my ear is Angie, Serena’s supervisor! She wants another chance to solve my problem. She will do everything in her power to make things right.
“What exactly is in your power?” I ask, emboldened by my ordeal. Why, she’s going to forward an urgent notification to her supervisor. Of course.
And please do send me your complimentary sharp stick.