All of our operators are busy right now….
(A telephone conversation I wish I could have.)
Hello automated voice? I….yes I KNOW I’m 20th in line, you told me that 12 seconds ago.
And I’ve heard about your website address. You told me that too, but you see, I am on the phone right now. If I am on the phone, there must be a reason why I don’t want to use your website, isn’t there? It’s obvious that you secretly want me to hang up, that you think of me as a nuisance call, but let me explain. I….
Oh? 19th in line so soon? And I’m cheered to hear that you’re sorry to keep me waiting. One time is enough, not five times a minute.
As I was saying, I don’t want to use the website. I want to talk to a person. We human beings are hard-wired for connection, and these days we are constantly becoming more dis-connected. More disconnection means more addiction, more unhappi…..
I’m 16th in line already? Probably numbers 17 and 18 hung up in frustration. We – to you – are nuisance calls, aren’t we? Otherwise why do you constantly tell me to go to the website?
I’ll tell you why I don’t. Because a website is unhuman. And we are losing the interpersonal element in all our people- connections . Our interactions are being obliterated by technology. We need each other in order to be healthy……
Oh? 15th in the queue? There’s hope for me yet.
We’re losing our links with each other. We are less able to read body language. It’s all right to lie. It’s all right to be unreliable –promising to show up for work or an event, and not appearing. We’ve lost the art of communication. It used to be called politeness, but that’s just the outward evidence of a shared, deep-seated cultural understanding.
12th now, am I? And you’ve already told me about your call-back system – yet another way to get me off the phone, isn’t it? And you’ll phone me back by 7 pm today? Wonderful. It’s 11.05 am now. So what do you think we callers do…sit around eating bonbons and buffing our nails while waiting 8 hours for your return call?
Communicating is part of being human, why we talk about the weather when we meet. It has nothing to do with temperature or precipitation. It is how stranger opens up to stranger, on safe, non-threatening ground.
9th in queue? Yay – down to single figures!
Frequently asked questions? Oooh yes, I know, because you tell me so often. It’s another directive for me to hang up. I know those FAQs. I’ve spent hours scanning through them in the past. They must be invented by your marketing department. I mean, really, how many throngs of people want to know how they can donate? No, I’ve never found the answer to my question on any FAQ. And I’m not that unusual. I just want to speak with a human, that’s all. Make contact.
[ 37 minutes and 8 seconds later — yes really]
A human voice: “Hello, how can I help?
Me, cheerily: “Hello I’d like to change my address please.”
HV: “Sorry, we do not accept address changes over the phone. You need to go to double-you double-you double-you dot…..
Me: “Yes I know your website address. Thank you. Goodby.”
So much for human interaction.
Nutty Cereal Mixings
At last I found a recipe that you can eat with one hand, if you too find yourself waiting on the phone. It’s weird, and many Brits are uncertain whether to pitch in and try it, but I love it. Just making if for you will add pounds to my hips. It is wildly adapted from the sexist Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook, a book so old that I’ve lost the title page so can’t tell you when it was published. I know I’ve been married for 50+ years, and it’s older than that.
Mix together: 1 cup plain Shreddies (little cereal squares, see picture), 1 cup Cheerios, 2 cups small cheese crackers, 2 cups sesame sticks or (if you can find them) small pretzel sticks, ½ lb (500 gms ish) mixed nuts or roasted unsalted peanuts, or the combination of your choice. Spread in roasting pans.
Then, melt 4 tablespoons butter or oil with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp garlic salt, ½ tsp celery salt, and 2 teaspoons cumin seed. Pour over the crunchies as evenly as possible. Give them a stir.
Place in a very low oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cool in the pans. Store in air-tight container [I found that round tins are better than plastic].
Alternative addition: chilli powder to taste.