Electronic Voices from the…..Did you say?


I got home around 9:30 PM last night.  A long day yes, but a good one.   Very thoughtful and appreciative.  A very insightful and accepting kind of day.  The light on my land line phone (yes, I still have one of those dinosaurs) was blinking red indicating that someone had called and left a message.  This does not occur too often anymore.  I am probably easier to reach via email these days as I work on a computer and have my mailbox open for business all day long.  If I am at home writing, then again  I am on a computer and have the mailbox open.  I do enjoy conversations with friends on the phone.  I like to curl up on the sofa and chat for an hour or so with a cup of tea of coffee.

So I punch in my pass code and lo and behold not one but three messages!  My, my, my!  I press the #1 to listen and it turns out it is a text message that was sent and has been translated into a voice message because as we all know old land phones don’t have the capability to display a text message.

I listened puzzled as the electronic woman’s voice spit out words that were totally incomprehensible.  At the end I pressed ‘save’ as I thought I may want to try to go back and decode it later.  The next message…yes, you guessed it…a text message that was converted to a voice message and the third was very much the same.  I did pick up a name in the last one as well which when I looked at the whole it would have been the first message.  So not only was I listening to the message being delivered backward in three parts but I would have to try to string together the meaning of each then assemble them accordingly.

I stared at the phone for a moment.  “Nope…not gonna happen”  I know who it’s from so I can contact them later.  Plus I was tired and just wanted to sit with a cup of tea and relax a bit before catching a bit of that thing we call sleep.

Electronic voices…interesting concepts.  I am not a particularly big fan.  Have you ever yelled at an automated person?  I have.  In fact, I have used profanity.  I don’t know why.  This was a while ago though when the technology was first being introduced.  I was trying to get some information regarding my then phone line and after spending the first ten minutes being grilled on what department I wanted to be in and making a few mistakes along the way I found myself corresponding with an affable electronic woman with a friendly voice.

“What can I do you for?” she asked far too chirpily.

As we are instructed I enunciated quite crisply “Billing.”

There was a pause, “I am sorry, did you say ‘Repair”?”

“No…I said billing.”

“Ah…you mean technician.” She responded triumphantly. “Let me connect you.”

“No…no!” I call into the phone.

She pauses.  “Okay, let’s begin again.  Please state once again very clearly what your call is about.”

I sigh and she says “Did you say Sales?  Please confirm and I will connect you.”

All I did was ‘sigh’ (mind you at this point I have been on the phone for 15 minutes so it likely came out as more of a groan), “No, I don’t want Sales.”

Before she could say anything in response I said “I want billing.”  I said it articulating each word.

She pauses yet again.  “I am sorry. I don’t understand your request.  Let’s start again, shall we?”

The too friendly voice is really starting to agitate me and I mutter “Fuck” under my breath.

“I am sorry, I don’t understand your request.”

At this point I yelled very loudly into the phone, “I SAID FUCK…!”

To which she said, “Did you say Billing?”

And I burst into laughter at this point and said “Yes” but of course I wasn’t going to get off that easily but I won’t bore you with details of my demise.  Suffice to say I was embarrassed to some degree that I allowed myself to respond so emotionally to a just a voice using language that was very unbecoming.  And to what end?  This automated electronic voice has no emotional component to interpret my extreme frustration.

At the end of the day I hung up.  Traumatized for life by an electronic voice that tried to be my friend and that I had yelled obscenities at.  Now if I encounter the dreaded automated person I just keep pressing * or # or O for the Operator.  Eventually the system gives up and puts me through to a ‘real’ person.

I have never really yelled at my computer, though I have uttered anxiety filled utterance of the “No!  Don’t Crash!” or the insistent “Come on, don’t have all day.”  They are just machines after all designed…or so we were led to believe a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away….to make our life easier.

Oddly enough our lives are not easier as a result of this technology.  We have moved into the age when we want everything right this minute.   I no longer swear at automated persons and have found at times it quite fun to try to confuse them.  This I only do when I have too much time on my hands, and that’s not very often.  But it can be funny to call the big companies that employ this technology, get the automated person on the line and begin a long-winded explanation to the poor dear…I guarantee you…they will give up on you fast and hook you up with the real deal.

The phone just rang…I best get that now….”Hi, this is Susan from Google….”

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Their everywhere!

Enjoy your day everyone!

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