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SMALL TALK
as reported by Paul Hillis

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time and phone number.

Eddie is striding through the short isle of the Eatemup. Heís got that ĎI donít want to be messed with look on his face. Eddie is not normally a patient guy. Heís learned to pretty much control his impatience because his wife, Tildy, wonít put up with it for very long.

I guess some people mellow as they get older. Some get a little grouchier, and some just stay the same. Iím not real sure which category Eddie would fit. Iíve been with him when I could sense him fuming but controlling himself. He will usually begin to take deep breaths and shuffle his weight from side to side when this happens. Sometimes I, or Tiny, or LeRoy will be able to defuse the situation and keep Eddie from being apprehended for public display of anger.

And I can understand his distress, and I bet you can too. It seems there are so many people in the work force who are not suited or trained for the job they are performing. Or ought to be performing. How many times have you had to wait on a clerk who was talking on a cell phone or to another employee when they should have been taking care of business?

I got up and let Eddie slide into his regular place. You know itís kinda weird how humans are such animals of habit. So many times, even though there are no assigned seats, people will time after time sit in the same place. Iíve seen it in church, college, and high school. And, lord, woe unto the person who sits in your place.

Eddie rubbed his hand over his face saying, "Whereís Shirl? I need a cup of coffee. I really need a shot of whiskey after what Iíve been through, but Iíll settle for a cup of coffee."

"I just canít get over it," he continued. "Do you believe there are any real people in the telephone world of help or information? I get so sick and tired of push this button push that button. And on top of that they very seldom give you time to get the phone back to your ear before they tell you which button to push next."

"You want to clue me in on what youíre babbling about?" I asked. "I didnít really mean babbling I should have said talking." I had forgotten the kind of mood Eddie was in, but the look on his face quickly reminded me.

"Iím talking about companies who have automated their phone system to make it more convenient for Ďyouí, and we all know thatís a crock," he answered. "Itís done so they wonít have to hire someone to answer their phone and are hoping that you will get so disgusted youíll just give up, and they wonít have to do anything for anybody. And as much as I donít like to talk to people I donít know on the phone, itís even worse talking to those machines"

"Havenít you ever been able to successfully get any information you needed or passed on any information you needed to on the automated system," I wanted to know. "I mean the school arranged it so the teachers could get a substitute just by using the automated system. I thought it was easy to use, and you know Iím fairly technologically challenged."

"Well, I think youíre challenged in more ways than one," retorted Eddie. "But I just spent about forty-five minutes on the phone trying to get some simple information about a form I had faxed to see if it had been received. I must have been asked four or five times whether I wanted to talk in English or Spanish. Push one for English, two for Spanish, and donít you know I couldnít get that machine to accept the fact I wanted to speak English?"

"Are you sure you were pushing the key down right?" I asked. The look on Eddies face told me I had misspoke. "I mean, sometimes times you might push too hard or not hard enough, and it wonít work right if you do that. You know?"

"Look," said a very exasperated Eddie. "All I know is that itís very irritating, aggravating, and frustrating to be told what to do by a non-person voice that canít even answer a simple question. I want help. I want answers. Not someone whoís just going to annoy me."

Looking around the Eatemup, he spotted Shirl. "Hey Shirl, can I get some coffee over here?" Finally, a real live person. Peace.


To talk to Eddie, Tiny, or LeRoy E-mail: pchillis@academicplanet.com 


 
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   Last Update:  February 19, 2003