The way I see it, there are two major problems facing the US. First of all, there’s a shortage of jobs. And secondly, there’s too many automated voice systems handling our phone calls. (There’s a third problem involving the GOP, but I don’t want to get into that right now.)
I don’t know what happened to Yankee ingenuity (or Yankees, for that matter), but it’s time we started acting more ingenuous (is that right?), or acting like ingenues — that’s the word! At any rate, we need to be more clever and resourceful in addressing our nation’s problems.
It’s simple, really. Let’s bring back the telephone operator. You know, the live person who used to answer and direct calls within companies and organizations. The person who asked, “How may I direct your call?” The person who would connect us to the right party or department without prodding us through a maze of menu options as if we were drunk mice.
Companies will complain that it will cost too much to hire operators. But that’s utter BS (business stuff). The big ones can afford some real people to answer calls and represent their companies. This is the root of our economic problems. Those fat cats at the top have messed with the working-class ecosystem by eliminating common entry-level positions.
And to make matters worse, some voice menus now insist that you say what you want rather than pressing a number option. There’s something off-putting about talking to a speech recognition system, and I often have a hostile tone when talking to one (which I hope it doesn’t take personally). I love to say things like “doo-wop doo-wop” and hear back, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” I don’t know what bugs me more, the fact that the system thinks it’s an “I,” or that it hasn’t been programmed to appreciate a reference to R&B music.
Back in Ma Bell’s heyday, Lily Tomlin created a great character, Ernestine, a phone operator with a nasal voice and an attitude to match. But that attitude came from a real person, and that’s what we’re missing now — real people at work in the USA, not the attitude.
So let’s bring back phone operators to create jobs, to get our calls answered by real people, and to once again hear Ernestine’s immortal words: “one ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingies…”