Thursday, November 18, 2004

Don't Touch That Dial! Redux

Dear Esteemed Reader,

Please don't pursue this post beyond the second paragraph until you have read its predecessor, "Don't Touch That Dial!," dated Tuesday, November 16, below. It will remain "below" until I figure out how to put it "above."

I'm new. I haven't learned how to quickly reorder these blog posts yet. The warning is intended for the benefit of both audience and writer: This update will make no sense if you read it before the original post.

Re: the Mark Twain-like bitch-rant a few days ago about those pesky automated phone calls.

The number of calls rapidly increased to the point of once a day (always around 9:30 a.m., with no clever variation to catch me off guard). Finally, by Tuesday, there were two calls; one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with different "voices" and different "greetings," if you can apply that term to such non-human shams.

I missed this morning's call because I wasn't available. But I had decided that today I was going to put an end to this unconscionable travesty of courtesy, so when the phone rang again in the afternoon I was ready. At first, I just picked up the phone and said nothing for a full two minutes, but, surprisingly, it didn't hang up on me. Then I shouted, "Hello, hello, hello!" Nothing happened for a protracted time; then the electronic greeting came on and it repeated itself in rapid succession, just as I had. "Please hold. Please hold. Please hold . . ." Actually, as rude as this thing is, I'm surprised it ever learned to say "Please." That's right. You'd better beg me to hold! Then beg me some more!

Next a human voice came on. "Hello?" it said, smally. The contrast between the human and the taped versions nearly cracked me up, but I had developed so much anger over the many days of this onslaught that, instead of giggling, I, uh, shouted angrily, "WHO IS THIS??" Rude begot rude.

Small Voice answered, "[First name] with Midland Credit. May I please speak to Patrick?" Well, this was infinitely better-mannered than the impersonal machine. But I was still mad. "[First name] with WHAT?"

[Calmly and evenly]"Midland Credit. May I speak to Patrick?"

Well, now my whole fierce campaign, my entire conspiracy theory, was shot to hell. I was still furious over the unethical principle and method, but it wasn't really fair to this person. What a yucky job! Gag! I nearly had some compassion and almost told her she had my condolences.

Instead, I said, "I'm sorry. What number are you calling?" She related the number, which after all was correct. But we don't know any Patricks, with the sole exception of the next-door neighbors' hunting dog. We don't even have a basement where an unknown Patrick might be hiding.

Undone! It was nothing other than a wrong number day after day, week after week.

My tone and volume fell nearly to a whisper, and I said, "Sorry, there's no Patrick here, and we've had this number for X number of years."

Someone must have deliberately given Midland a wrong number. Because of the many calls we've received at other numbers--as well as this one--dealing with the same thing but addressing other parties, I'm convinced people do this frequently to throw creditors off of their scent; then the hapless legitimate-number owner gets stuck holding the bag. There were courteous thanks from Small Voice as I blushed profusely and hung up.

Someone should invent a Wasted Emotional Energy Meter with a dial like those on oven thermometers--only this would have a green indicator, a yellow indicator, and a STOP WHILE YOU'RE EFFING INSANE indicator. I would immediately have one permanently installed on my person. I suspect--no, let's be honest--I'm sure I'd be off the dial most of the time. And this tendency only gets worse as I get older and the hormones creep toward the edge of oblivion.

Heaven help the hapless people doing drudgy phone jobs. What further irrational ballistics await them from this quarter?

That having been admitted, WHATEVER possessed me to be so polite as to let Small Voice go without regaling the company's practice? Of course they don't want their targets to know who they are. If the target is running from a creditor, he's not going to answer a known creditor. But, by the same token, why would he wait around for a rude, anonymous hold machine? I still maintain that the premise is flawed.

I'll have to save the rest for another rant.



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