How do I feel about the telephone? It's complicated. On the one hand, it has been a boon to communication for sure. I mean, pre-computer era, other than a face to face discussion, it was the fastest and best method to communicate with family, friends and businesses. On the other hand, it often irks me to no end.
Let's not even take into account the fact that, with my hearing challenges there are some phones that are fairly useless to me. At the museum (where I am a docent) for instance, unless the room is dead silent - which almost never happens - all I hear on the other end is mmmph mmmph mmmph. I don't even bother answering the phone there anymore. I either let it go to voice mail or someone else picks up. It's sad. Very Sad.
I struggle a little bit understanding what people are saying when I talk on my cell phone but it's definitely better than the museum line. Our landline phone I do pretty well with usually. So i'm happy happy there :) Yay. Except that, the majority of the phone calls that we receive are crapcalls. Meaning, robo calls. Sooo annoying. Luckily we have caller ID so I know to not bother picking up the phone if it's not a number I recognize. Still, I do have to listen to it for 3 rings before it cuts off. Three really irritating rings. Grrrrr.
But the time the telephone annoys me to most is being put on terminal hold. Yes Yes I understand you are very very busy. But so am I! So are we all. Who has time for this balderdash?
For example early last week Tim and I got postcards in the mail reminding us to make our annual eye appointments. Well that was a thoughtful reminder. Thank you! The postcard directed me to call their number (which was listed right on the card - also thoughtful) to make the appointments.
It was Friday before I had time to make the call. No biggie. So around 9:30 am, giving them time to open their doors, check in the first patients, listen to voice mails and otherwise get settled in a bit, I dialed the number. Once through the system, (Press 2 for the Venice office) (press 4 to make an appointment) (Press 3 for Dr. L) a very pleasant voice suggested that I have my calendar and insurance card handy. Ok, good idea. I pull my insurance card out of my wallet. My calendar and pen area already right there. I'm ready.
And then a very pleasant voice assures me that my call is very important to them and gives me the option of leaving a message or continuing to hold. (If I wish to hold, press 2). I don't want to have to wait by the phone all day for them to call back...I have other things to do! So I press 2 to hold.
I will say that the 'hold' music is better than average. I danced a little bit in the kitchen while listening to the music and, because like everyone else I'm a busy person, I made good use of the time and emptied the dishwasher while I waited.
By the time all the dishes were put away, new dishes loaded in, the counters wiped down and the sink washed out, the voice interrupted the song once again to remind me that my call is very important to them. (Press 2 to continue to hold) Ok I pressed 2 again.
I didn't want to stray too far from my calendar and insurance card so I checked the progress of the laundry and found the dryer and washer were both done. Coolio. I loaded all the dry stuff into a laundry basket and dumped it on the kitchen counter then moved the contents of the washer into the dryer and started a new load of wash. While I waited, I danced a little more while folding the clean dry laundry. By the time I was surrounded by stacks of lovely tidy clean stuff, the voice once more reminded me of my importance to them. I pressed 2 one more time and put the laundry away.
When the laundry was put away, I grabbed a broom and..well it was a little awkward but I managed to keep the phone tucked between my shoulder and my chin while sweeping the front hall, the kitchen and my general desk area. I moved on to the other hall, the guest room and the family room before the voice once again soothingly told me of what a VIP I am in their eyes. I pressed 2.
I was no longer dancing to the music now. I started washing the inside of windows while waiting but I was getting a crick in my neck from holding the phone with my shoulder so I switched out to answering emails on the computer while I waited. By the time the voice interrupted the music again, I was deep into a computer game of Candy Crush. I moved on to dusting.
At the 35 minute point of waiting, the entire house was dusted and I was seriously giving thought to leaving my number and hoping for the best when I heard the clickclick of my call finally going through! Hurrah! I'm saved! I can make the appointments and move on with my life! Which was followed by a bigger click and the buzz of a closed line. I had been disconnected.
After a 35 minute wait, disconnected. Dang!
I did not call back until earlier this week. And while I was still on hold for a long time, ultimately I got to talk to a real person and the appointments were made. It's all good.
It's important for you to know here that in my paying gig, I worked for a group of Audiologists and my very first position there was front office so I do understand how it works. I was that voice on the other end of the line. And it's certainly possible that I may have accidentally hung up on a patient in my time at the front lines. The difference is, it wasn't the terminal hold disembodied canned voice that hung up, it was me. And I immediately called the patient back with a thousand apologies and took care of whatever caused them to call the office in the first place. And I never EVER left a patient on hold for 35 flippin' minutes. NEVER! And in fact, if it seemed that the patient was going to have to wait for an unreasonable amount of time, I would excuse the first call for a moment, connect with the waiting patient and ask if I could call them back. They almost always said yes. It's just polite.
I am not a fan of this situation, as you can see. But there is something that bugs me even more.
One of my doc offices contacted me recently by email. The email told me that there was a very important message to me from my physician in my patient portal. My what? My Portal? I have a portal? The old TV show 'Time Tunnel' immediately came to mind. The message went on to tell me that I had to call the office to get a current "token" to access my patient portal. A token? Is this a bus ride? What is this bit of rubbish?
Ok. Everybody wait a minute. Let me make certain that I understand this.
They send me an email. Yes. To tell me that I need to go online to read a Very Important Message from my physician. Yes. And this information is in my personal Patient Portal. Yes. But to get this message I have to first call the office. Yes. And go through the phone tree pushing all sorts of numbers. Yes. And then wait on hold. Yes. So that they can give me the secret handshake/code. Yes. To go back onto the computer. Yes. To access my patient portal. Yes. So that I can read the very important message from my physician. Yes.
Stop. Are you hearing what you are saying to me? I have to make a phone call to get the token that allows me to get into my patient portal on my computer to then read the information?
When I call to get the token, why don't you just tell me the information then? I mean, I'm already there on the other end of the phone!!!!!
It takes twice as long, easily, twice as long, to do this stuff than it should. Remember when computers were supposed to make our lives easier?
Ok I'm done. That's it. I was aggravated when I started but I'm better now.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.