2018-02-09 / Commentary

People Person

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

Our world is becoming too “unpeopled.”

I don’t even know if that’s a word, but honestly! When you try to do something on the phone anymore, it is almost impossible to speak to a human being!

It’s maddening.

And when, as you’re trying to pay a bill, they put you on hold for 20- minutes and play that twangy god-awful music or do cheerful little commercials about how “wonderful” their company is and HOW IMPORTANT your call is to them while “thanking” you for your “patience” as IF you had ANY choice in the matter ANYWAY…I don’t know about anyone else but verrrrrrry darrrrrrk thoughts go through my mind.

Very, verrrrrrrry dark thoughts.

And dear sweet heaven above…when they tell you as you wait how “quickly and easily” you could “make your payment online” I go ballistic. Outwardly, verbally, and loudly ballistic. I say things to that recording that would make sailors sad and truck drivers cringe.

The other day I got a bill from a place I had already paid. I knew I had paid this bill and even had my confirmation number to prove it, so I called the billing establishment.

I got a recording.

A completely USELESS recording because of ALL NINE of the options they gave me, not ONE had to do with questions about a bill.

And then I had to listen to ALL NINE options again…in Spanish.

And still not the option I needed.

I punched the “Return to menu” option and then tried to go to just “billing.”

Again…four options and not one I needed. And again…repeated in Spanish.

And of aaaaaaaaallllll these options….not one was “speak to a human.”

I couldn’t just PAY the bill since I KNEW I already had! I was holding the PROOF in my hand, but there was no way to talk to anyone to tell them that, so they could look it up and mark it paid or whatever they needed to do!

These are the times I’m reminded why I don’t deal with household paperwork while my husband Marty is at home. I’ve never been known for my patience in the first place, so no company out there needs to thank me for it. I don’t have any.

But…when Marty is home and watching television in our den or working in his office, and he hears “Because if I <expletive> WANTED to pay the <expletive> bill ONLINE, I would NOT be sitting here on <expletive> NEVERENDING

HOLD! GIVE ME A HUMAN <expletive> BEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIINNNNG,” I think it frightens him.

He’s never liked conflict, and when I can’t reach a human being to talk to about our money, you can be sure there’s going to be conflict.

I know we could absolutely end unemployment for all time if companies would have the common courtesy to HIRE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO TALK TO THEIR CUSTOMERS! Just a good old fashioned conversation where the customer calls up another human being and tells them the problem or whatever they are calling about and then that human being helps the customer resolve the issue. It worked for years! I know it could again.

Our society has become too “gadget” oriented. We don’t even TALK to each other on our PHONES anymore! We email. We text. We go to our social media. We even take pictures and make movies, but we almost never just call one another and TALK.

Once when we were out of town and supposed to meet another couple for dinner, my phone had died. We had been calling each other all day as we had planned to have dinner together, so we were going to pick a restaurant. I had my girlfriend’s number in my phone, but when it died, I was completely helpless without it. I had no idea what her number was or her email or her address or anything. I couldn’t even call where they were staying because that too was in my phone. It eventually worked out because I had my charger and was able to “borrow” some electricity, but that was a ROUGH 20-minutes without my phone!

That’s why this automation thing is going to be the end of us one day. We’re so dependent on it we’re forgetting how to live without it. And the under-40 crowd has always had it. If we’re all becoming a bunch of numbers and faceless ringtones, we’re losing something important in our society. We’re losing our humanity. Our ability to empathize and sympathize is traveling slowly down the cyber highway to nowhere.

And if they mean it when they say “this call could be recorded for training purposes,” I really hope they’re kidding.

I’m just saying…

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