Apologies to Blondie…

Owing to a number of factors [of which regular readers of this blog will be aware] I have had to use up precious hours of the life-hours I no longer have enough of-by waiting on the telephone. Gas installers, electricity providers, telephone companies, ex-electricity providers, tax inspectors, on line ‘help’ communities-these are some of the faceless establishments whose musical miscellanies it has been my misfortune to have to endure.

I am now a connoisseur regarding ‘waiting-on-the-telephone’ musical selections. Soon-to-be ex Electricity providers ‘Scottish and Southern’s’ offering is not to my taste, consisting of about six tracks which rotate in a monotonous loop of rapping, heavy metal and Bryan Adams. Eon, who are about to be the new provider at least have a non-abrasive classical offering.

To achieve the point at which you must listen to this dross you will have undergone a process involving selecting options. The options begin with the ‘main menu’. There may be five, six or more options on the main menu. By the time option number five is described I have forgotten options one, two, three and four. Since ‘what was that again?’ is not one of the options I try a random number which may or may not be ‘to speak to a human being’. Once I have selected the human being number I am on hold once more with Bryan Adams et al.

By now the carpal tunnel symptoms in my wrist has begun to show displeasure at being held in such a position by playing dead. My brain reels in sympathy and since I am sitting at the PC I begin a single handed round of Freecell Solitaire which sucks me in so that when, half an hour or so later a proper human voice asks me how they can help I have totally forgotten who I called, what I called about, or even that I called at all. It is tempting, at this point to ask the voice why my solitaire game has been rudely interrupted.

This is the point where the human explains you have got through to the wrong department, that they cannot help you, that you need to ring such-and-such a number; or if they are kindly they may even put you through to the department you may [or may not] need. Once you have gone through the musical diversion, the options menu and the lottery of a selection process again you have the joy of explaining the problem, going through your details, telling the voice your date of birth, postcode, name of your first dog and bra size all over again.

After several days I begin to feel that the loss of life hours is irrelevant, owing to a gradual seepage of desire to exist. They have worn me down. I fully understand the meaning of ‘soul-destroying’. This is how organisations, corporations and companies keep us, the masses under their control. ‘Your call may be monitored for training purposes’ intones the robotic responder and I wonder how much training is involved in making everyone’s life a drudgery. They keep me ha-aaanging on the te-e-lepho-one…

Don’t ring us!

                One phenomenon you notice when you are at home more during the daytime is the proliferation of unsolicited telephone calls you are subjected to. Now I know there are rafts of methods of dealing with this exasperating annoyance, and I have tried very many of them, but I have also become somewhat interested in those hapless captives who man the phones and what has forced them into the undoubtedly desperate position whereby they must telephone people all day who have no wish to speak to them, or indeed to even pick up the phone.

                I’m guessing it must be quite wonderful to even find someone at home during daytime hours. As the recipient of so many of such calls I am able to tell instantly whether it is a ‘cold’ call or not. For one thing there is almost always a delay after I’ve uttered my usual, neutral ‘hello?’ This hiatus is usually the time when I replace the receiver, curse a bit and return to whatever absorbing activity I was engaged in before.

                If the caller is quick enough to make a start on their pitch it tends to go something like this:

                CALLER: Good afternoon ma’am. How are you today? [often heavily accented].

                ME: I don’t want to buy anything, thank you.

                CALLER: No I am not selling anything ma’am. I just wondered if you-

                ME: [firmly] I am not interested. Thank you. Goodbye.

                Note how polite I am! This is partly down to habit and also because I can’t imagine many occupations more tedious and soul destroying than theirs. The conversation can vary, of course. Sometimes they will ask for ‘Mrs PreviousSurname’, a surname I had for a previous era, in which case I adopt the haughty strategy of ‘I’m sorry, there is no Mrs PreviousSurname living here’. Sometimes they ask for my son, who has not lived here for many years, and on occasions we are still asked for the previous occupier of this house, a lady who moved on nearly twenty years ago!

This begs the question, where are they getting their information from? –From an ancient archive? –From a museum? The response to my denial of identity, if they think quickly, can be to ask if I am the homeowner. Indeed, this is sometimes an opening gambit. I tell them we have double glazing, a conservatory, cladding, insulation, insurance, that we don’t want a timeshare, didn’t have payment protection insurance, have made wills, our life insurance is all sorted and we are not in debt. These assurances may or may not be true, but the truth, in these circumstances is of no consequence. The fact is, if we were seriously to want any of these items or services we would go out and find them.

Husband’s method of dealing with cold calls can, on occasions be somewhat cruel, like a small boy teasing a fly, as when he demanded a ‘password’ from the caller, eliciting an, at first confused and then an increasingly enraged response.

I suppose, since these days more people are doing without land lines in favour of mobs the irritation might one day go away? In the meantime, what methods do you employ? Answers on a postcard…