Friday, January 17, 2020

Please Hold

Thought for the day: If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight. [George Gobel]

[image courtesy of morguefile]
And if it weren't for telephones, I reckon we'd all be sending smoke signals.

To tell the truth, I had no idea what I was gonna write about for today's post. Oh, I had a few nebulous ideas, but nothing that stirred much enthusiasm in me.

Then Monday happened, and serendipity struck.

When I went to my ophthamologist last week, she prescribed another eyedrop to add to my daily regimen, and told me to come back in a month to have the pressure remeasured.The staff kindly made a return appointment for me, and I went on my merry way.
That afternoon, Smarticus' next surgery was scheduled, and you guessed it... it fell on the same day as that aforementioned appointment.

No problem, right? I simply went online and canceled the appointment, and figured I'd make a call to the (ugh!) appointment center on Monday to reschedule.

OY! Big problem! First, after dutifully entering all the required information into the automated system, the robo-voice told me all lines were busy, and there'd be a wait of anywhere between 56 minutes and an hour and 23 minutes... (Where do they come up with arbitrary numbers???) so did I want someone to call me back. To sweeten the offer, I was assured that I "wouldn't lose my place in line." A no-brainer, right? So I left the required information, and about two hours later, give or take, I got that promised call-back. Cool, huh?

Nope. Not cool. An automated voice once again informed me that all lines were busy, but the next available assistant would take my call. (Why, why, WHY did they call me back, if they were only going to put me on HOLD again?) Silly naive me thought it'd only be a short wait. After all, I was next in line, right?

I gave up after waiting for more than an hour, and I've gotta tell ya, it gave me enormous pleasure to slam my phone receiver back into its cradle. (One of the pleasures of owning a landline. Also... I have NEVER accidentally dropped my phone into the toilet or run it through the washing machine. Just saying...)

Then I took the phone off the hook. Phooey on 'em! I had stuff to do, dammit!

And I was MAD! SOOOOO mad, I wanted to punch the wall and scream. So natch, I did what any other perfectly normal weird irate writer would do... I wrote a silly poem that evening:

'Tis a sad and tragic story,
But one that must be told,
About a most unlucky fella
Whose call was put on hold.

A recorded voice informed him
There'd be a slight delay,
'But your call is quite important,
So please don't go away.'

Then began an endless loop 
Of an irritating tune,
Plus timely saccharine assurances
That someone would answer soon.

'I'm sure this won't take long,'
The foolish man did say.
'I'll simply sit and wait my turn...
Why not? I've got all day.'

Minutes passed, and then passed hours,
As life went on around him.
Yet still he sat, phone pressed to ear,
For his determination bound him. 

The longer he waited,
The more he had to stay.
His call'd be answered any sec,
So he mustn't go away.

With zero sleep and little food,
He clutched his phone for days.
He began to hum that damnable tune,
And his puffy eyes looked crazed.

Then finally, on day twenty-two or three,
The music stopped; he held his breath,
And he heard a woman say:

'Thank you for your patience.
I'm so glad that you could stay.
Now won't you kindly tell me
What I can do for you today?'

'Your mattress stinks; I'll not return
To your crummy store Sweet Slumber.
I demand my money back!'
'So sorry, sir. Wrong number!"

***********

On Tuesday, I played it smart. I called the dreaded appointment center first thing in the morning. So first thing, in fact, after dutifully entering all the required information into the automated system, I was informed that the place didn't open until 8 AM. (The slackers!) There was a happy ending, though. I called on the stroke of eight, and by golly, I was first in line, and the task was accomplished in a matter of minutes. From now on, I will ALWAYS make that call at 8 AM. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

So are automated telephone systems and being put on hold the banes of your existence, too? Oh, and let's not forget those delightful robo-calls. (I guess there weren't enough people being duped via email, eh?) If none of those things make it to the top of your pet peeve list, what does? (Why not write a poem about it? HA) And, ya know,  if we can't beat the system, we might as well laugh at it...








                                     

Kinda makes ya nostalgic for the good old days of telephone, doesn't it? Well, except maybe for those pesky party lines. You know... when you knew your nosy neighbor was listening to your call, because you could hear her open-mouthed  breathing. Oh, but remember those really sweet helpful operators? Remember... Earnestine?


                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

60 comments:

  1. More surgery? I am, as always, sending oceans of caring your way.
    And loathe and detest waiting and waiting and waiting for my call to be answered. Like you I have learnt (though damnit not fast enough) and I call early. As early as I can.

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    1. Yes, afraid so. It's a bit of a setback, but hopefully, this will be the last one. Thank you, sweet lady.

      Absolutely! The earlier, the better. Luckily, we're early risers, eh? :)

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  2. Fun post! Sorry to hear the real reason behind it, though. All the best. I hate having to call anywhere these days for this reason - inane music and their stupid 'encouragements' that I will be heard some time! But now most firms also offer a computer chat - with a robot - to solve problems. What happened to the people who used to work for these firms? Sad! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it. Even though I'm an amateur radio operator who can chat quite blissfully with a virtual stranger on the other side of the world for an hour or more, I've never been a fan of talking on the phone. (Go figure!) But today's typical endless telephone waits on hold are positively maddening. I reckon the people who used to work for these firms went away and took "customer service' with them.

      Hugs back atcha,

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  3. Thanks for another great post, Susan - and one that I can fully relate to. My horror stories concerning robo-voice calls and being put on hold forever are numerous enough to fill a book.

    Your delightful and very apt poem put a Big Smile on my sometimes gloomy face.

    I never liked cell phones and always prefer my landline. And as you said - it's a wonderful feeling to slam down the receiver.

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    1. I have a feeling almost all of us could fill a book with horror stories about robo-calls and the dreaded "eternal hold." The number of robo-calls we get seems to have risen astronomically over the past year or so, and just think: the political robo-calls are only just beginning for the next big election. Yee-HA! (I DEFINITELY enjoy slamming the phone down on THEM!)

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  4. Thank you Dear Susan! In the past year and 1/2 --you know the reason-- I have been put on this seemingly eternal "hold" many times. This has done nothing to improve my outlook except the end of humankind will be followed by robots phoning each other. I just go in to my dr.s office and say I'm having a panic attack. They fit me in immediately.

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    1. Being carelessly tossed into hold limbo doesn't do anything to improve anyone's outlook. As for robots calling each other, that'd suit me just fine. It beats the heck out of them calling ME all the time.

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  5. With you on the loathing of telephone queues! Sending strong wishes for the surgery to go well xxx

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    1. Alas, I reckon those dreaded telephone queues are a "thing" all over the world.

      Thank you, sweet lady.

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  6. My pet hate with calls to helplines of big companies is that they are often located in India and I struggle to understand what they are saying. They work from a script and don't really listen to you!
    However, I used to deal with a company called Hills Components. Their holding on music was "The hills are alive with the sound of music". That always made me smile.
    I think the "Your Call is Important to Us" mantra must be universal - and devoid of real meaning!
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s ultimately unthinkable Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. UGH! Another worthy beef. I betcha locating their call centers in foreign countries just so they can save a few bucks has cost those companies in other ways... like in lost customers.

      I agree. Some hold music is quite lovely... but the degree of loveliness is inversely proportional to the amount of time one is forced to spend listening to it.

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  7. excellent poem and an Ernestine reminder. Snort! I'd write more now, but someone is calling me...

    (Take care my friend. Hope those drops worked for you, and that hubby is on the mend)

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    1. Thanks. I LOVE Ernestine. (and everything else Lily Tomlin has ever done) I was thrilled to see how many of her clips are available on Youtube. (GREAT way to waste a little time...)

      Time will tell. Thanks for the good wishes.

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  8. A place like that shouldn't be that busy!
    Remember the days when you just got a busy signal?

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    1. Agreed. That was the first time it's occurred. I dunno. Maybe all but one person were out sick with the flu, and only poor harried soul was doing her best to handle the influx. Whatever. All future calls to schedule appointments will be made first thing in the morning.

      I do. And as annoying as that could be, it was better than the "upgrade" to holding hell.

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  9. "To tell the truth, I had no idea what I was gonna write about for today's post"

    Those posts usually turn out to be the best posts.
    Have experienced it all .... the eye drops too!
    Love the poem!

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    1. Thanks. Oh, ain't those eye drops grand? :) For someone who never liked putting any kind of drop in her eye, it's somewhat ironic how much time I spend nowadays doing just that. (And I'm no better at doing it now than I was when I was first diagnosed!)

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  10. Love that poem! Maybe you should write when you're angry more often. :)

    Still sending good thoughts and prayers your way.....

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    1. Thanks. Hmm, if I only wrote when I was angry, I'd write even less than I do now. :)

      Thank you. I appreciate it.

      Delete
  11. Yes, I have time, I can wait,
    the music is great.
    I”ll just hang on
    to change a date.

    How nice of you to say you care,
    But it has been five minutes
    And I need a chair.

    How interesting that you have seminars
    That you would like me to attend
    But since I don’t have a prostate,
    I’ll pass this on to a friend

    Oh my, time is going by
    And your music, well, I can’t lie,
    Is driving me crazy
    And my mind is getting hazy.
    So before I crash
    And speak some trash
    I will bid you adieu
    Because we are through.

    I will give no more flack
    But I will not be back.

    Thinking of you Sue and hoping everything goes well.



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    1. AAAAAAH!!! You wrote a poem! And I LOVE it. You've obviously been there, done that. And you still found the humor it in. :)

      Thank you, sweet lady.

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  12. Must say, I kinda miss our party lines … as annoying as they were cuz it was the fastest way to get "news" from A to B (without even trying). I also remember our Operator Lady … she would keep tabs and give unsolicited tips on any problem mentioned between neighbours. She interrupted a phone conversation between my son and his friend once by saying to them: "Now Boys, let's keep this civil, shall we?" … Sigh … those were the "clean" times, eh? … not … Anyway, friend Sue … Wishing you and your precious one a happy and healthy w/e. Love, cat.

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    1. The most interesting party line system I ever encountered was in Tennessee back in the seventies. Our friends had seven different families on the same line, and each of them had a unique-sounding ring to differentiate it from the other. The thing was, when any of the seven parties got a call, ALL of the parties heard the rings.

      We had a 2-party line growing up, and when Smarticus and I first moved to Georgia in '71, we were assigned a 2-party line, too. However, there was never anyone else assigned to it. What's more, we kept our "rotary dial, 2-party line" until the late '90s. Why not? It was CHEAP, compared to what everyone else was paying. In fact, we're pretty sure we were the last ones in the state to finally give it up and switch. The phone company virtually begged us to switch year after year, but we finally gave in when they made us an offer we couldn't refuse. :)

      And a very happy weekend to you, too, dear cat.

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  13. What a great post and I love your poem. This is definitely something we can all relate to. Glad it all worked out in the end and I'll be one to follow your advice and call at 8 am. from now on. Sorry to hear surgery is scheduled. I'll be praying all goes well and for a speedy recovery too.

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  14. Hilarious! I'm forwarding this to my mom. She'll love your poem.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you mom does, too. :)

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  15. Loved your poem, and OMG, I have completely forgotten the sweet satisfaction of slamming a phone back on it's cradle...tapping extra hard on an I-phone end-button just isn't the same thing is it.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, slamming down that ol' phone delivers an incredible amount of sweet satisfaction. Wouldn't be too healthy for one of those new-fangled (and expensive) phones, though, eh?

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  16. LOVE your poem, Susan! (Now, how about putting it to music and start raking in the dough.) DISLIKE the reason behind your having to write it … and lifting prayers. After the doctors at UAB were unable to agree on a plan of action for Tom -- even when we're to return -- I can sure identify. Waiting is the worst!

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    1. Thanks. Funny you should mention putting it to music. That's what my cousin and I used to do many years ago. I'd write the words, and then we'd come up with the music together. Folk music stuff. Never made any money from it, though. :)

      Ugh. Sorry to hear that. You're right. Waiting really is the worst.

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  17. I don't know why I'm still surprised that customer service is generally so bad. It's probably because good customer service is actually very simple. Ergo - the way we are treated by some of these organisations is deliberate.

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    1. The lack of good customer service is completely baffling to me. Seems terribly short-sighted to me. If ya treat your customers right, they'll remain your customers. That simple.

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  18. And I meant to say that your poem was great!

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  19. Look at you go with the flow. If only you could let them know that you'd like to shove their automated crap through their window.

    I find if it's a store or appt or whatever, way faster to just go there and make the appt. or return. But yeah, first thing can get you in too.

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    1. HA! You're right. I'd love to shove their automated crap out the window, but that was too difficult to fit into a poem. HA

      Unfortunately, going to the appointment center isn't an option. It's phone-only access.

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  20. I never experienced the delights of party lines or operators, but being put on hold drives me nuts. So do those endless automated menus with a range of options that don't meet my needs and all I want to do is talk to a human being. I've found that shouting angrily into the phone sometimes convinces the voice recognition software that this call is above its pay grade.

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    1. Wow! No party lines or operators??? How surprising!

      Oh yes, you're right about those stupid menus. Too often, what we want isn't represented in their choices. When faced with those no-win kinda choices, we keep hitting the 0, and that usually gets us to a real person.

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  21. Goodness, all the time waiting.
    May all be well with the surgery and your eye drops.
    parsnip xx

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    1. I have a feeling you have to do more than your share of waiting, too.

      Thank you. I appreciate it.

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  22. I don't wait "on hold" anymore, since I only have a mobile phone and waiting runs the battery down and the charger is on the floor powerboard (the only one available) and it has a short cord, so there's no way I'm plugging the phone in and lying on the floor until my call is answered. I go online to the company and send them an email with an expected time for reply. Please. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the place and front up to the desk. Sometimes I'm even polite.

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    1. HA! "Sometimes I'm even polite." That got a chuckle out of me.

      This was the FIRST time I've ever been put on hold for such a long time, but it's also gonna be my LAST. Life's too short. I handle all of my medical stuff online that's possible to handle that way, but unfortunately, some appointments have to be made via phone.

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  23. I love your poem (and all those comic strips)!

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  24. Absolutely love the poem! I despise talking to machines that are pretending to be human and the robo calls..."Please don't hang up, this is a very important message!" Yeah? Well if it's so important how come a real person isn't calling, eh?

    Stay well, you and smarticus :)

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    1. Thanks! Those robo-calls that pretend to be real people reeeeeally get under my skin. Those perky friendly voices... GRRR (Yes, they've fooled me more than once.)

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  25. Been there done that, way too many times. My favorite is the one that says you can speak or use your keys, but doesn't tell which keys for what, especially when it doesn't recognize you words. Which in my case, it never, ever does! That's when I start throwing things. Last thing I threw was my husbands tool box. Hit the floor with a truly satisfying BANG! I don't know why but that bang is always so releiving. :)

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    1. HA! Yeah, throwing stuff, especially stuff that makes a loud noise, (Throwing a nerf ball isn't nearly as therapeutic.) does feel good. But slamming that receiver down feels even better. :)

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  26. I was recently put on eye drops for pressure too. Thinking of you with the health concerns for you and your husband. I detest being put on hold on the phone. It is so annoying that I dread having to make an appointment or having to call customer service about some problem. Love your poem!

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    1. I hope the eye drops do the trick for you. I've been on them for a number of years, but their effectiveness is beginning to diminish now. Ergo... yet another kind of drop. But I'm hopeful. As an earlier commenter said, "It beats the alternative!"

      Thanks!

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  27. Oh yeah! I forgot about operators. Ha! I hate being on hold. I held for 3 hours once...on speaker while I went about my business. Finally, an automated voice came on and said the business was now closed...to please try back the next day. Phftt.

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    1. Three hours!?! My goodness, you must have the patience of a saint. And if you didn't blow your phone to smithereens after getting that message that the business being closed, you're got a ton of restraint, too!

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    2. I'd been trying to get them and couldn't, so I just left it on speaker while I went about my daily routine. What happened to excellent customer service? I don't see a lot of it anymore. Also...I forgot to say, the world is getting full of too many cellfish. ;) Have a wonderful day!

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  28. I feel your pain. Here's my true story and you know, I'm part ding dong, so it may not shock you.

    I needed to speak to someone at the IRS. I called and was the umpteenth millionth caller, so my wait time was loooong. I set my phone on speaker, set it on the calendar and started renovating my kitchen (kidding, I cleaned it!). The representative came on and in my eagerness to switch from speaker to regular, I hung up on her!! I called back. Waited again. Got a representative who informed me that the information was on the back of the form I was holding in my sweaty little hand.

    Some days, I'm all genius all the time.

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    1. HA! Sorry to laugh at your experience, but I can totally imagine doing the same thing. Yep, I feel your pain, too. :)

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