Friday, June 1, 2012

"Please Listen Carefully..

as our menu options have changed." Hmmmm...where have I heard THAT request before? Oh, yeah! On every annoying outgoing message on every automated IVR (interactive voice response) system EVER! When, in reality, did most of these incredibly dynamic, ever-changing environments actually change? Roughly 1998. Sometimes they try and fuck with us a little by adding the doubtful word "recently", as in " our menu options have recently changed." Then they hook your ass into listening to the entire, fucking list even though you KNOW that nothing has changed in this telephonic wasteland since, as I already said, roughly 1998. I can usually imagine the digital tumbleweeds rolling along the fiber optic cable between me and whatever purveyor of whatever I happen to need right then.

Me? I don't care if all I need to do is check a balance, as soon as I hear that fucking, old-ass trope I immediately press 0 for all it's worth. Even if 0 means that I'm lining up to hear the selections in Croatian, I don't care because usually it means I get to speak to a person. I know, I know exactly what you're thinking right now: ABIB what are you, like 80? Isn't that the Number One complaint of the pre-Boomer generation aside from the loss of daily home milk delivery? No matter; I refuse to be mentally manipulated by a recorded voice who lies about something as easy to identify as how recently an automated menu has been all changed up. What? I wanted to talk to someone about purchasing a subscription! Fifty seconds ago that was number three but now it's number five and three minutes before that it was number eight! Holy crap! Thank goodness for this recorded warning or I would have gotten all kinds of hosed up in this impossible-to-decipher labyrinth of numeric choices. Depending on the relative sophistication of the ever-changing menu system, I'll get asked a couple of times if I'm sure that I want to go ahead and select 0, don't I instead, maybe want to listen to the menu choices and let the IVR lead me to a more specific, a more direct, a more personalized menu option? Uh, no, asshole. I want option 0.

So then, once it's realized that it's electronic entreaties to me to be more sheeplike have fallen on deaf ears (on a phone, hah!) the IVR is programmed to punish you. OK, asshole, it thinks, now you find out just how sinister and repetitive I can be.

Please enter your 10-digit telephone number now!

Hmmm....I just did that like 30 seconds ago when I first began this relationship. So I enter my 10-digit telephone number like a good little consumer.

OK, so I'm sure that I'm sending you to the right department, please enter your 14 digit account number now.

Hey, wait a minute! I did THAT just after I entered my 10-digit telephone number...for the first time! But I know she'll never let me get to the Holy Grail of the actual human behind door number zero unless I jump through her automated little hoops. So now I enter my incredibly laborious 14-digit account number and I have to do it at least twice because the first time I forgot where I was in the string of numbers and then the second and third times I fat-fingered the wrong entry on number 12 and had to go back to the beginning.

OK, whew, 10-digit phone number: done! Fourteen digit account number: done!

Just another moment and I'll connect you...

The fuck?

Please enter your zip code now! Your nine-digit zip code!

At this point, with the sweat beading on my forehead, I swear I can faintly hear the staccato of her automated, electronic chuckle and it sounds so very, very...evil. Man (or in this case, woman) against the machine. My human resolve is being tested; I know that I cannot falter or show weakness because she'll know and then I'll never, ever, ever get out of this electronic maze of digital choices constructed to keep humans confused and subservient and so very...grateful...when we finally reach the correct end point. Bring it bitch.

Slowy, with the careful dexterity of a bomb disposal expert, I enter my full, nine-digit zip code. There is a moment of silence, which I choose to construe as stunned, as she realizes that she is beaten but no, there's one more test in this battle of wills. In a cheery chirp that is nothing if not a thinly veiled warning she delivers the coup de grace.

Almost done! Using the letters on your telephone's numeric keypad, please enter your mother's maiden name followed by her place of birth. And the name of the hospital in which she was born. And the name of the attending physician.

Oh, how I hate you with your perky vacuousness, your perfectly enunciated, non-regional diction, the sound of the bitter smile pouring through your words. The final gauntlet has been thrown down; this is the defining moment, human versus machine. Will I make it to the other actual human voice waiting at the end of this electronic tunnel of the test of my resolve? You bet your fucking non-corporeal ass I will.

Mother's maiden name: check. Place of birth: check. Name of hospital and attending physician: after a two-hour search through Mom's strongbox for her birth certificate and an examination through a magnifying glass of the 87 year-old, smudged, hand-written entries: check. Take that you electronic harpy from Hell!

Th-thank you for choosing Best Buy. I'll connect you now. Have a NICE day! Call again REAL soon!

The feeling of complete satisfaction, complete vindication, complete victory is a physical sensation! I WON! I WON! I WON! I...

Hello, this is Christina how may I help you?

A real human voice!

Hi! I'm interested in your gaming subscription services.

Oh, well this is car audio installation. Let me put you back to our automated menu to get you to the right person. Have a great day and thank you for calling Best Buy!