September 14th, 2012

planet

things about me, telephone hotline pet peeve

Last week we had a staff meeting with some new people so we were asked to go around the room and introduce ourselves with our names and "something interesting about you". For the first time in my engineering career, I'm in a really chatty group this year, we already know everything about each other. I hadn't thought about it, but that's weird! In all my previous groups there was always at least one person, usually more, who was a quiet, contemplative, hang back and keep your head down type. We'd hear little tidbits about them, but never the whole story... where they'd been, who they lived with, what they were like. In fact one guy was so private, we theorized that he was in witness protection or something... he had a generic-sounding name and everything. But I digress.

In order to introduce myself to chatty group (with three new people) I said I was an electrical engineer, been with the company ten years (!), I had a two-year-old, a dog, four guinea pigs, and a husband... people asked if I'd just named those in the order I care about them, I had to think about what made me say it that way but after some consideration I said they were in "ability to take care of themselves, in reverse order". I can leave the husband alone for probably a week, the guinea pigs for three days, the dog for 12 hours, the baby for twenty seconds.

And then for the interesting thing about myself, I said that I really hate it when I call a company and their phone message says "please listen closely as our menu items have changed." OH WHO CARES I JUST WANT TO PUNCH A NUMBER! Why do they take the time to demean us with this stupid request? Do they really think I memorized the options from the last time I called, and am just going to punch with reckless abandon? What's the consequence for them if I punch the wrong number, anyway? And here's the real kicker... I bet you anything the options have NOT changed! I mean, what if I just called this morning? It's not like they mix them up for funzies after every caller!

The only time the menu items have changed is in the ten seconds right after the person recorded that message, and yes, I'm sure the voice provider really did think s/he was making an earth-shattering impact on the world of that recording. But the message stays the same, long after the impact is over. Feelings are temporary, data is forever. I tried to convince a fellow engineer of this once... he'd created a folder in a directory called "new reports" and I complained that as soon as we got a next version, that folder would be out of date. Why not make a folder for "old reports" and move old ones there? After all, old reports stay old forever. New reports are only new right now. He didn't get me.

Anyway I just wanted you all to dwell on that a bit, and now you can be as angry as I am when you call someplace and they waste your time with an idiotic voice prompt message that assumes you planned on ignoring their FANCY NEW OPTIONS.