Does anybody answer the damn phone?

Need a doctor? Have an emergency? Please hold and try not to die!

One would think that anyone who has been on this planet as long as I would have “seen it all”.  Well not quite.  The other day I had occasion to call our local hospital and found myself listening to a recording.  After my initial shock, I decided that I must have called the wrong number, but redial confirmed my worst fears as the voice instructed me to call 911 if this were an emergency, but assured me the operator would be back on the line shortly (whenever she finished her coffee break?).  It left me wondering if the hospital was no longer in the emergency business.

Fortunately for my coronary arteries I was spared the indignity of hearing the ultimate contradiction of how important was my call.  Whenever I hear that message, I begin to salivate like Pavlov’s dog, and scream “if it is so important why don’t  you answer the damn phone”!  I was however subjected to the usual noises masquerading as music while I fumed and waited.  My record of listening to these awful sounds punctuated with that stupid lie about the importance of my call is forty three and one half minutes.  Fortunately the hospital operator answered in only a few minutes, but I was still in shock.  She assured me that she had been on the line talking to others, but I am still not convinced that she wasn’t taking a break.

Prior to the dawn of the technology age, the hospital operator served a very important function not only as a purveyer of all kinds of useful information about the hospital, but as a link to the outside world.  It was her/his responsibility to initiate procedures to mobilize crisis units in case of local disasters for example.  A more forward thinking person than myself would not have been surprised by this unthinkable event, for I should have known that when hospitals began to refer to their patients as customers that these so called not for profit organizations had set out to emulate their profit based cousins in the business world.  Perhaps an appropriate motto would be “if you like General Motors, you will love this hospital”.

Many accuse we old folks as being resistive  to change which is probably true; however we have been around long enough see what was promoted as progress to sometimes turn out to be regress.  I figure it must have been an old guy who coined the phrase, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  Now II realize this phone thing has been a boon doggle for many workers, as I can see how it provides them opportunity to goof off, socialize with coworkers, play video games, or take care of excretory functions, and I have always been in favor of fringe benefits for workers; however my forty three and a half minutes of time is gone forever and I don’t have much of that commodity left.   One of my Grandkids suggested that a solution might be to leave my phone on speaker, a novel idea (fight technology with more technology), but that interferes with my nap.  The bottom line (see even I have been corrupted by corporate influences) is that I will simply need to adjust, not easy for an old guy.

Though I realize that we will never go back to the days when a call was answered by a live human being who simply said hello, I feel there should be some punishment levied against the person who invented this tool designed to inflict such diabolical punishment.  In my last letter, I had suggested in a fit of anger that someone should be lynched.  I didn’t mean that as I am against capital punishment, mob violence, or torture.  However; I would be in favor of his being sent to the Haque to face charges of Crimes against Humanity.

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