THE TELEPHONE – This should be easy. All I want to do is order some more checks. So I punch the phone buttons for my financial institution. “Thank you for calling the West Bank of the Brazos. Your call is very important to us. Well, sort of important. We can tell from caller ID that you live in what is euphemistically known as a ‘working class neighborhood,’ that is, if you have a job.” This must be a recording, but I don’t need a real person. “For English, press 1,” says the bank’s message. “For Spanish, press 2. For Esperanto, press 3. For Swahili, press 4. For Cajun, you see the little button that’s third row down and looks like two 0s, one stacked on top of the other? It’s called an 8. Wipe the shrimp peels off your hands and press it. Haha. Just a little ethnic humor.” “Wait a minute,” I say. “If I can’t speak English, how do I know which button to press?” “If you can’t speak English,” says the recording, “go back where you came from.” I press 1. “For your protection and ours, this call may be monitored. Actually, all our calls are recorded, then sent to Dick Cheney. Speak clearly and slowly. To make your transaction easier, and also allow us to lay off scores of employees who used to handle customers’ calls, our automated BankFoneSysTem can identify up to 10,000 words and will speed you to the correct department without you having to explain to some bored, underpaid English grad. So just why you are bothering us? Again, speak clearly.” That’s fine with me. I’ll just tell the bank’s voice identification system. “I want to order some checks.” “You want to murder some Czechs? Let us put you on hold while we call the cops.” “No, I want to…I want to get some more transaction documents or instruments.” “Thank you. Now I’ll transfer this call to the Transsexual Undocumented Immigrants.” “Could I speak to a real live person?” “To speak to a real-live person, dial 1-800 HOT STUFF. It’s four dollars a minute, so have a credit card ready.” “This is getting crazy,” I whisper to myself. “We heard that!” says the phone recording. “We?” “Not only is this call being monitored by the vice president’s office, it is patched to our office PA system. We can all use a laugh now and then. So what is it you want? We’re sort of busy here at the bank, what with the SEC, FDIC and the FBI hovering around, leading our CEO on a perp walk in front of God and NBC.” “Checks, I need some more checks.” “In order to speed your nagging whine more efficiently, press 1 for new accounts, 2 for old accounts, 3 for locations of recent brazen daylight robberies of our branches, 4 for our office’s unlisted address in the Cayman Islands. For all other picky questions, press 0 and an operator will help you. And this better be important.” It happens all the time. Some bank or store or brokerage office gives me a list of options and none is what I want. I press 0. “You have reached me, Gloria, the bank phone operator. I am currently on maternity leave, such as this schlock outfit allows. You ought to see our health plan. Have you ever heard of drive-thru appendectomies? Anyway, I’ll be back in the office in about three days. If this is an emergency, I can be reached on my cell phone. Press 2 plus 2 = 5 to reach me.” I press the proper buttons. I hear, “Is that my cell phone?” “Push, Gloria, push!” someone is yelling. This is ridiculous. I’ll try again. Once more I reach my bank. “Thank you for calling Take it to the Bank.” This monotone recording says. “Your call is very important to us. For accounts amounts, press…” “Wait a minute,” I say. “What happened to my old bank?” “The West Bank of the Brazos was taken over by us at a bankruptcy sale. Something about sub-prime interest rates, a Congressional investigation and – what does ‘cooking the books’ mean? Is that anything like ‘eating your words’? All our attendants are currently helping other customers. Actually, we only have one attendant. We laid off all the rest. A highly trained staff member will be with you in a minute. Until then, please enjoy some of our radio jingles.” “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, It’s off to do repo. We’ll seize your farm Or break your arm…” That’s enough. I’m changing to another…. “Helwow,” says a voice from far, far away. “I am Akmed. Can help you now with publum.” “I want to talk to you about an order.” “Odor? I have no odor. Who you think talk to, Yankee capitalist?” “This isn’t going anywhere. Can I speak to your supervisor?” Suddenly I hear music. They’ve put me on hold. “Hi, this is Shirley May, one of the many helpful folks here at Bank Run & Muffler Repair Shop. To reach a helpful associate for car loans, press 1. To talk to any of our very helpful people about ransoms, press 2. To re-order checks, press 3.” That’s it! Finally I get the correct department. “I’d like to re-order some checks.” “Thank you for calling U Can Bank on It. We’re your new checkless, paperless banking system. Is that a sob?” Ashby is on hold at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location