I called Verizon today. I was working. I called their residential line, not the wireless/cell phone part of the company. I don’t mean to be sacrilegious or heretical, but if Hell is more than just fire, I think it will be filled with traffic jams, second-hand smoke (from cigarettes, not just the burning lake of fire) and an everlasting telephone conversation with Verizon. It’s the 10th circle of Hell Dante never could have envisioned.
They put you through this automated gauntlet of options. And it’s not even a human being. It’s not someone who can sympathize with your anguish or discern you’ve reached your boiling point. Just a voice that incessantly pursues its agenda: to never connect you to a live human being. I don’t even think it’s better than Pakistanis and India Indians trying to understand your problems through the language barrier. At least they have a pulse. Can sense tone. No matter the language, anger is pretty clearly interpretable. Americans complain about outsourcing. Yes, it’s a problem. But at least the social justice aspect is met in hiring someone in India to answer your Hewlett Packard questions. Verizon has outsourced to a soulless, lifeless, flash drive with a stolen voice identity of some shill that thought recording the vocabulary of a small genius for a few extra bucks would constitute a shrewd business move. Monopolies are shrewd business moves too. Doesn’t mean they’re great for society. This lady, who so effortlessly sold her voice to the devil, has in those same few breaths tarnished a nation’s pride, weakened its morale, sabotaged its moral stature, and inhibited its manifold destiny.
It’s not that The Voice is rude, quite the opposite. The Voice is polite and tries to be helpful in her way. Some things she says:
"Would you like to hear this in English?"
"Para espanol marke dos."
"What is the nature of your problem?...I’m sorry to hear that."
(After saying your phone isn’t working) "I know this isn’t likely, but are you calling from that number?...I didn’t think so."
"Let’s run through some options."
If you interrupt she stops mid-sentence and moves on to the next question in her spreadsheet. Not offended. She doesn’t pick up your sarcasm. Or rage. You also can’t charm her into going the extra mile for you. She’s a computer. Just a voice. And once you finally come up with a problem that doesn’t register within her expansive vocabulary, she connects you politely to an agent.
I complained to the agent—the living, breathing, eternal soul of a darling—that it takes SO MUCH time and effort, it’s only fun the first time, and that I’d rather wait in silence or listen to elevator music than interact with an invisible, imaginary person you can’t even flirt with if they HAD a cute voice. So she gave me a secret password. Because I charmed her into it, I suppose. (A perfect example of why Verizon made this ungodly business move in the first place.) If you say the word “agent” at ANY point during The Voice’s spiel, she is forced to connect you with an agent.
But boy, she really doesn’t like that.
I called back just to try it out. I mean, I guess I still needed to “talk to an agent.” I toyed with her. Went through myriad options. Repeated phrases, spouted numbers, spun in circles, jumped through hoops, slapped my mom and shot my dog. She was doing phone line tests from her cozy little hard drive, and just as she was getting warmed up, mid-sentence, I blurted out “AGENT.”
Almost in spite. For what she puts me through EVERY SINGLE TIME I CALL VERIZON.
Almost for rescue. Like a secret agent man would save the day.
Then there was silence. For about 5 seconds. I thought she hung up on me. Disoriented, and no doubt feeling played, she said something about finding my answers on the internet and “I will now try to connect you to an agent.”
Passive-aggressive little Voice, aren’t you?
She comes on in a much more business like tone, no more friendly, soothing, helpful overtures. “Your call is important to us. Your time is valuable. We will be with you shortly.” Or translated from cyborg to real life, that’s “Go sit in the corner. We’ll talk to you when we’re good and ready.” I waited 5 minutes. At least. On a silent phone. Like she was punishing me. You get an automatic connection to an agent as soon as you’ve trudged through her plethora of spreadsheet obstacles, but opt out of those options with the secret password “agent,” and there’s Hell to pay for it.
Or at least what I’m imagining Hell to be like.