Screaming at the Robot
Screaming at the Robot
After several decades of managing revolving telephone providers, I recently decided to play monopoly with AT&T again because it appeared that my rates for phone, internet, cell phones and television would be half what they have been with rip off services like Sprint, for instance, which got me by default from Nextel. Now, three weeks into the process of switching over I find that DISH won’t work here, the DLS never got hooked up and Singular can’t find my phone number so they’re charging me under a wrong rate plan that is, surprise, more expensive than what they sold me. I’m presently on hold for perhaps the twentieth phone call to straighten this out. A bright employee just cut back in to tell me she had been cut off by someone she was on hold for. During these wait times there is stupid music playing, or worse, The Robot which triggers a response in me that involves throwing things and/or cursing at the top of my lungs. When I get tired of shouting, or become self-conscious, I have learned to make it switch to stupid musak by repeatedly pressing the pound key. Otherwise it plies me with cheery details about recording this fxz23z!ing conversation for quality purposes (is that ironic or what?) or using the internet for faster service. Now I am speaking to someone whose comments are barely understandable and who switches me back to The Robot. The new person is going to fix everything from a central command center someplace in the world where people speak like he does, after I’ve been told by other nice people who are easier for me to understand -- possibly because they are located within the continental United States or in a former British colonial outpost -- that a technician will have to come back to our home. Now the Robot is doing a loop of — Please Wait – with islands of silence between maybe 20 seconds long. I’m tired of screaming SHUT the FuXt! UP YOU MULTINATIONAL FUXLG! GIANT NAZI RECOGNISANCE MACHINE. I move the ear piece forward to my cheek bone. I want cheaper bills, I want the Dems to dismantle the Patriot Act and I want to unplug these damn ROBOTS. The nice man whose words are difficult to understand has just, I think, told me it will be another week before the DLS works, possibly because the lines aren’t yet working in our neighborhood. When I say that's not good enough, he repeats what he just said, having no script for "not good enough." Maybe he is a robot too. Other people told me the problem was that the technician who came out didn’t have access to the house. When they got confused they switched me to another person reading from another script. Maybe they are all Robots. While I wait for the AT&T to mesh it's new acquisitions, I can get back to work to make enough money to pay for several months of double billing. In my spare time I can look for a new television service that can deal with anomalies like trees and wind. Are these the same communication systems that guide missiles, smart bombs, ground to air strikes, wire Capitalism, provide military intelligence to Dick Chaney, give our personal details to Alberto Gonzales and tell Bush we’re winning the war in Iraq?
© Susan Bright, 2007
*Graphic from University of Edinburg
(note: I wrote this last week and the blinking phone still isn't working on the dsl connection)
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
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