Monday, October 25, 2004


I can remember when you could pick up a phone and call an agency or a business and actually be connected immediately to a living person! But that was before the age of technology and the explosion in population. In today's world, a simple telephone call concerning your electricity bill or a defective item you bought in a store will take up a good part of an afternoon, send you to the edge of nervous collapse and try any patience you have left after reading the depressing headlines in the newspaper.

The problem lies in computerized voices. When you are hearing impaired, computerized voices sound like a combination of R2D2 and Mickey Mouse. They always give you a long list of numbers to punch, plus many times you are asked to punch in your bank number, your Social Security number, your telephone number, and the number of jelly beans in a fifty-cent package. This done, you have reached the interesting are put on Hold.

Hold is Purgatory. It is Limbo. It is a terrible, vacant, hollow place where dead souls float about, pleading for help. It is fodder for the Braindead, thought up by some diabolical genius who wanted to invoke a particularly cruel revenge on the human race. However, these agencies, or places of business, do realize the effect of Hold on the human psyche, so some of them add music.

You may get Muzak type music, droning symphonically onward like the lowing of a group of laryngitic cows, or you may get livelier fare. Whatever you get, the strains of the tune will be interupted while some sweet voice informs you..."Your call is important to us. Please hold!".
Sometimes, they even give you a time. "Your call will be answered in five minutes?"

Actually, your call can't be too important to them, or they would answer it, and hire enough people to reply immediately to the calls. But that is immaterial as you hang on Hold, drumming your fingers, doodling, or recalling the lustful scenes in your favorite soap opera.

Perhaps that is Einstein's Theory of Relativity...the length of five minutes on Hold as compared to five minutes held in the arms of a dreamboat lover, I don't know. But those minutes drag on and on, and that music plays and plays, until finally, miraculously, a human voice comes over the phone. If you had a little champagne on hand, you would certainly pop the cork, sip it down, and dance around the room like a giddy idiot! But don't celebrate too soon. You may just be given another number to call and have to start the whole process all over again.

Sometimes I become imaginative with theories of modern telephoning. Let's take a police department. After dialing the police, a computerized voice could say, "For Burglary, Press One! For Attempted Rape, Press Two! For Murder, Press Three! For Armed Robbery, Press Four. For a madman attempting to behead you with an axe, please stay on the line and someone will assist you as soon as possible."..

Then, of course, you are placed on Hold. Music plays, a soothing refrain aimed at calming the nerves. A voice breaks in and says, "Your call is important to us. Please hold."

Ridiculous? Oh, yes, but anything is possible in this mixed up, modern world we live in. Just think of it....phones do not require wires these days. One can trot them around the house or yard like an infant in a cradle. One can easily misplace the phone and frantically scramble around trying to answer a call, panicked because you might miss an important conversation, only to find out, when you are completely winded and have finally located the phone under a couch pillow, that it is someone wanting to know if you plan to vote for this proposal or that.

And then, there are cellphones, some of them no bigger than a wart on your thumb. You can hold this wee thing up to the ear, feeling rather foolish, and talk into thin air. And they come in a variety of colors and designs, even sparkly stuff. If you had two of them, they would make beautiful earrings.

The only thing wrong with cellphones are the charges. They charge you to call Sam. They charge you if Sam calls back. They charge you if Sam leaves a message. You are only given so many minutes...but whatever they are, they aren't enough. Although five minutes waiting on Hold is an eternity, five minutes on a cellphone is a blink of the eye.

Of course, you do get free nights and weekends with many cell phones. Thus, you should plan your life accordingly. You should stay awake from Friday night until Sunday night making calls, gibbering like a chatterbox, contacting every person you have known throughout your life. Then you should sleep from Monday until Friday.

And don't forget to confiscate your teenager's cellphone from Monday through Friday, too. It's much, much cheaper that way. Teen-agers and cellphones have a love-hate affair. They love them and their parents hate the bill.

Telephones have become a basic necessity in our country. If you don't have a phone, it is as though you have fallen off the world and are spinning somewhere in outer space. To have your phone go phones are so apt to an absolutely impossible situation. It's like being on Hold for a lifetime....without the music...without anyone cutting in to tell you how important you are!