In the old days, my washing machine would spring a leak, or my VCR would refuse to record. ("For example" , I mean to say, "for example".... god forbid that it should actually happen as I am writing this.) I would phone up the service centre, some actual human being would pick up my call, and the long-drawn-out battle would begin.....when could someone come? I needed to be at home when the repair guy (I am sorry, in so many decades, I have NEVER seen a repair gal, ever.) came...and so on and on, until the repair actually got done.
But now it's different. I call up the number on my AMC (annual maintenance contract) and at the outset, I get what I learnt to call "Waiting Time Concerto" (WTC). I pity the poor composers whose music is made to underline the irritation of waiting customers. Every now and then, this WTC will be interspersed with a falsely cheerful recorded voice which assures me that my call is VERY important to them. (If it is so important, why don't they pick up the *&^# receiver?) ...If I have the patience to wait through many of these messages, which also helpfully inform me how busy their call-centre executives are...obviously, that means that the product has a lot of problems......a smarmy young (alWAYS young, mind-botheringly young) man or woman will finally come on the line.
"Tearyourclothestotatters Washing Machine Company, I am Heartachingly Youngperson, how may I help you?" goes the lilting voice in oft-practiced cadences. I first give all my details...my name, my machine number....
"I can't find a record of you, ma'am," says H Y. "I'm sure you have it," I say, resisting the urge to bite the telephone. "Oh, yes," says H Y, and reels off my address. "In that case, why on earth say you didn't have the details?" I ask acidly. No reply, but a nice, well-trained, diplomatic silence, followed by, "what's the problem, ma'am?"( "You, and your practiced and incompetent smarminess," I want to say-- but don't.)That false cheerfulness and that faux politeness...they set my teeth on edge. I don't wonder that call-centre employees get ulcers and other health problems, if that's the way they have to act all the time.
I reel off the problem. I know, all the while, that this H Y is NOT anyone concerned with the washing machine company, so s/he has NO clue what I am talking about, but s/he needs the details. I get another soothing, syrupy answer. "MadamIAmVerSorryAboutThis (MIAVSAT)," rattles off H Y. "We will be sending a service engineer (thus grandly are repair guys referred to nowadays) immijetly, ma'am." WHEN? "The service engineer will call you, ma'am. Is there anything else I can help you with?" (Yes, can you loan me a million dollars?) I keep quiet.
And then I start the wait for that longed-for call from the S E. Which, most often, never comes. So two days later, I call back. This time, obviously, it is Y A H Y (Yet Another Heartachingly Youngperson) who takes my call. I have to go through the entire litany of my woes once again. Let's assume, this time, that the S E *does* call me.
"When can you come?" I ask him. "MadamICantSay" is the standard answer. Well, I can empathize with that, obviously, once he is at someone's place, he cannot gauge how long the repair will take. But...*I* need to be at home when he arrives, so can he, perhaps, come...say, two days later, but as the first call? "YesMadam", says MICS, and of course, he doesn't turn up. He WILL, however, turn up just as I am leaving to do something urgent. Without fail!
I realize at this point that I should have taken MICS' mobile number...since I haven't, back to Square One and One More H Y, who listens patiently, apologizes profusely and professionally (you haven't heard a professional apology? call up one of these call centres, and you will know what I mean."MIAVSAT" it starts....)..and back again to the wait for Mr S E to appear....
Sometimes, of course, it is great fun, especially when my call-centre person is otherwise occupied as well. There was one time when someone was looking up my details and all the while, I got a running account of her friend's elopement with someone and subsequent run-in with that someone's parents...she was obviously discussing it with her neighbour. I once had to get in my words edgewise as my H Y was speaking to his wife about their son's low marks in school. ("I have a caller," he kept saying, but his wife was in no mood to postpone the discussion, nor did the guy disconnect the conversation..actually, I felt quite sorry for him. I heard his wife telling him that his son would never get admission into that XYZ convent school and realized they were talking about a child who was in Lower Kindergarten!)
So..when any of my gadgets fail, or I realize that the regular visit promised in the AMC has not happened....a pall of gloom descends over me as I approach the telephone....maybe this time, things will be more efficient. I Live In Hope.... Hope is my geographical address.