Please Hold, We Will Be With You Shortly

Dear Sir, Madam, Non-Binary Identifier or Automaton,

I would like to point out an apparent flaw in your system. By “you,” I refer, of course, too all companies in general, whether they are private medical practices or credit-card companies. I hope you will forgive me for lumping you all in the same group, and believe me when I say that after extensive research I have come to the conclusion that the issue at hand is relevant to each and every one of you.

It is not a very big problem, to be truthful, but I believe that you could solve it quite simply. Let me come at the matter in a roundabout fashion – please imagine yourselves using a telephone in order to reach a particular service you wish to use or inquire about. Now, think of automated recording that answers. It tells you, in some form or another, that your call is very important, but that other clients are being served at this time. It requests that you stay on the line, and promise to be wish you shortly. After some variation of this form, music begins to play.

I shudder to refer to the tinny loops of notes as “music” but I suppose that it is the best and least offensive name for the noise. In a world that has birthed string-quartets, orchestras, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Elvis, The Beatles, David Bowie and Pink Floyd, it is incredible that such sounds still exist outside of the endearing false notes of a beginning violinist. Furthermore, in a universe that has come to use radio waves as well as the Internet for transmitting music, it is hard for me to believe that the options for cheap, or even free, music is so hard for companies to come by.

It is my opinion, and I am sure that others will concur, that the collective “you” to whom I write, that such alienating and disturbing music is the cause of many a headache, not to mention heartaches, missed dates and other inconveniences. I will check the statistic on bleeding ears and get back to you on that when I get more information.

If you truly value your customers, will you please consider trying to play something that doesn’t loop every fifteen seconds? I can almost guarantee that your callers will be in a much better mood when one of your highly-trained service providers answer the phone, thus causing quicker and more efficient service, which would lead to more satisfied customers who would use your services more often.

As a Good Samaritan, I am not asking for any share of the extra profit.

Sincerely,

Slightly Ignorant

The Later Bus – A Rantle

RANTLE: A newfangled word, invented by a slightly ignorant writer, RANTLE means a rant that is also a ramble, specifically of the kind that is told (or written) in story form.

“There’s only one seat left,” the bus driver warned me. I looked quickly at my watch. I had time to spare, but not enough to take the chance of waiting for the next bus. I climbed up the steep steps and give the bus driver a few bills.

“Two ways, please,” I asked politely. I’m always polite to bus drivers. So many people are mean to them – abrupt and impatient and assuming, and I hate that. I know what it’s like to service people in one capacity or another, and every job like that is made better by nice people.

I got the change from the driver, thanked him and took my ticket from the little machine that spit the little pieces of paper out. As always, I wasn’t sure if the ticket was stuck or if I simply wasn’t pulling hard enough. I tugged at the ticket for another few seconds and it gave way. I tucked it it my wallet for the return journey.

The driver started backing up from the pick-up spot so that he could leave. The central bus-station always feels like an airport in that way – the bus is just like the plane, taxiing to the takeoff point and then setting off from the station and into the city streets until it reaches the highway where it goes up to full speed.

I looked down the aisle and began to walk, looking for the promised seat that was supposed to be left. I though I saw it, but then realized that there was a small girl sitting next to the window. I continued on until I realized that the one seat was being occupied by someone’s extremely large bag. Darn. I should have waited for the next bus. I ended up sitting on the steps near the back door.

The bus was hot and stuffy, and so much the worse where I was sitting. I didn’t have a window or a vent, just a solid door in front of me, two small trashcans next to me and the step behind me that led up to the aisle. I was sweating within minutes. Not the most pleasant experience in the world, I’ll grant you. As I said, I should have waited for the next bus to come.

I took my mp3 player out of my bag and chose a suitably amusing, energetic and yet disturbing band to listen to while I played one of the stupid games on the player to pass the time. My choice must have been a good one since the ride seemed to be over relatively quickly, although my skirt kept sticking to my knees and I had to shift constantly to be comfortable on the hard steps.

Getting off the bus should have been a wonderful experience – emerging from the musty, dusty space into real air. But, as luck would have it, today has been much hotter and more humid than the weekend was, and so when I got off the bus first I felt as if I’d dunked myself into a fetid and stagnant pool of hot water. Within moments, I was sweating worse than ever.

Now I had a choice. Either I could wait for another bus to take me two stops – about half a mile if that – or I could walk the distance. Despite the heat and the humidity in the air that made me feel as if I were walking through soup, I decided to walk. I looked at my watch again as I pulled my book out. Too early – I should have waited for the next bus. There was nothing I could do about it anymore, though. So I opened my book and began to walk. As usual, I didn’t collide with anyone or anything, which is to the good, but I also had a hard time enjoying the short walk because of the sun falling on my exposed arms and heating my black skirt and tank top so much that it felt as if they were burning onto me permanently.

It took me barely ten minutes to reach my destination – early, as I’d thought. Much too early. I couldn’t find a bench that had trees shading it and took a walk up to a park and then back down to the street, searching for a good place to sit in vein. I realized I was thirsty, so I went into a well-conditioned super-market to buy a bottle of water. I often wish that there were public drinking fountains here, like there are in much of Italy. Then I wouldn’t have to pay for water that is almost the same as tap water, except that the industry that makes the bottles that hold it are ruining the environment. But I digress. I bought the water and wished I could stay in the supermarket and continue enjoying the cold air that was being pumped from somewhere unseen. I was on the verge of asking the clerk behind the counter if there was a place I could sit for a few minutes there, but then realized that the man would say that there wasn’t and would shoo me out. Instead of dealing with the humiliation and unpleasentness of that, I just payed and left.

I finally found a shady spot, took out my computer, and typed up my account of the last two hours. The moral of the story? Yes, I should have taken the later bus.

Wake Up Man!

Okay, people – look at the title of this post. If you’re a stickler like me, you’ll see what’s wrong with it immediately. This sentence appeared in a Nescafé advertisement that was hung on numerous billboards around my area a few years ago. My mother, who taught me all I know about the proper use of English, and I sighed loudly each and every time we passed one of these advertisements. I know I make occasional grammatical mistakes. I know I make more than a few mistakes regarding the proper use of punctuation marks – but then again, I believe many people ignore the finer print of the rules of punctuation and that this is okay for most writers.

Then again, there is a limit. For those who haven’t realized it, the mistake in the title is the lack of a comma between the phrase “wake up” and the person it’s addressing: “man.” This mistake, to any English sticklers, or sticklers-in-training like me, is glaring.

Here’s another one. Remember that movie with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant? The title is this: Two Weeks Notice. This is another example where the mistake is glaringly obnoxious – two weeks notice doesn’t mean anything! It SHOULD be Two Weeks Notice – notice that little apostrophe there? Quite important, in terms of meaning.

I love language and I adore words – I’ve said as much before. I’m willing to accept proofreading slipups in books or mistakes caused by simply not knowing the language. I do NOT, however, have to accept mistakes made knowingly and purposefully in order to make a poster look less “cluttered” or “complicated.” How can we strive to educate the masses if we’re willing to drop punctuation marks to make things easier? How is this okay?!

Flight From Hell

I am now officially back in the Holy Land, and hopefully in the next few days I will be resuming my normal updating pattern. I will also update those interested parties in which school I will end up going to in the fall and also I hope to go over my travel journal and write about the various amusing things that happened during my insane trip. Right now, though, I feel a great urge to explain just what sort of horror was vested upon my mother and I on our Delta flight home. You might actually have heard or will hear about this as a small item on the news today.

Our flight left NY late. Ok. Happens. Whatevs. I can deal.

An hour in, there is a slight commotion up front. Flight attendants are dashing up and down the aisles. Plane starts to descend and what looks like liquid is streaming out of the engines on the wings. None of the crew is telling the passengers anything besides to stay in our seats with our seat-belts fastened.

We’re finally told, after some major panic going on inside my rather too broad imagination, that we’re landing in about five minutes due to a “situation” with a passenger. A few minutes later, as an afterthought, we’re told that nothing is wrong with the plane and we can stay calm. Thanks. NOW you’re telling us.

We land. Somewhere. No one’s said what city we’re in. We all believe that a passenger is ill, has had a heart attack, a major allergic reaction, something life threatening. I stop a passing flight attendant and discover that this is not the case. It is some sort of security concern. Some sort of dangerous and destructive behavior. The flight attendant, who seems almost more panicked than the passengers, goes on to say that it is a very big deal.

Once again, fear becomes rampant – terrorist attack! Hijackers! Criminal group! Maybe there are accomplices on the plane! The FBI are involved! Rumors run rampant.

Eventually, and this is about an hour after landing, the co-pilot comes out and we get some real information: a passenger had gotten up from the back of the plane, had walked to the front and to the cockpit door and had begun banging on it, trying to guess the code to get in and punching at the number pad. He was wrestled to the ground by five passengers and was tied up and calmed down. The regulations in this sort of situation dictate that the plane make an emergency landing, which it did. The passenger was taken off in handcuffs, his luggage and handbags were removed, and the local and federal police became involved.

After another two hours or more, it is determined that the man was simply unhinged and having an anxiety attack. He is not connected to any criminal or terrorist groups. All is well, all is safe. A new flight plan is made, the plane is refueled, and we finally are able to head out once more. I must stress, though, that for a while there we were warned that we might all need to get off the plane and there was some indication that there would be an investigation. Apparently the FBI actually was involved, and thus was able to check in their databases that this disruptive passenger was acting alone as they say.

You’d think that once the whole thing was sorted out and we were able to be on our way again, all would be fine and dandy. Ah, if only. It seemed, however, that the fates were determined that my mother and I have the absolute worst travel experience of our lives to date.

During the first part of the flight, and the wait on the ground as well, there was a woman and a man behind us who had been talking non-stop. They were strangers and were having a nice airplane chat. That’s fine. What is NOT fine is that they were doing so in extremely loud voices. Once the flight had resumed, the man was exchanged for some reason with a different one, and again the woman chatted him up. She seemed determined to have as many partners in her bed that night as possible. Or something.

Basically, for the rest of the flight – ten hours and forty-five minutes, in case you were wondering – these two conversed in extremely loud, obnoxious, piercing voices, not even attempting at keeping their conversation private. Thus, I know that She has an Austrian boyfriend. I know He has problems with his girlfriends. I know which movies He and She like. I know that He and She were hitting on each other for half the duration of their in-flight-conversation. I know that She has four really good friends and I know that He wants to travel to South America. I know more about He and She than I know about half my friends. Oh yes, She was also kicking my seat for most of the flight.

So if you hear about an incident on a Delta flight, then know that I was there. And know also that the only thing preventing a second “incident” [namely, me murdering the He and She behind me] was that I really didn’t want the plane to be diverted yet again.

Good Impression? Defintely Not.

I am going to share a little story with you. As most of you know, I’m applying to colleges and am currently waiting for answers from most places. One of the places that I applied to was Yale. Yes, it’s definitely one of my reach-schools, and I have no real belief that I’ll get in, but who knows?

I got a call the other day from a woman. She was one of those women who talk through their noses, and Hebrew through the nose is even more annoying than any other language spoken that way. She asked me if I was who I was, I replied that I am, and she then started saying something along the lines of “I understand my boss is supposed to be interviewing you…?” I, of course, replied confusedly that I have no idea who her boss is and I don’t know if he’s supposed to interview me.

Eventually she managed to figure out that her boss was a Yale alumni and that he wants to interview me, as part of the application process. We agreed on a time and date, and eventually hung up, to my ears’ great relief.

The interview is tomorrow, the alumnus is  a lawyer, and I’m already nervous that he’s going to be the biggest prat on the planet – if only because he had his secretary call me [the Brown alum called himself] and didn’t even tell her who I was or what sort of interview we’re supposed to be having. I ask you, is this the sort of impression I’m supposed to have about Yale right from the start? Pompous asses who don’t really care much?

Stupidity – A Common Affliction

There are stupid people on this earth. There are, in fact, many many many stupid people on this planet. We all have to deal with them every day. We have to talk to them, have to forgive their stupidity and have to make allowances for it. This might sound condescending. Maybe it is. I don’t claim to be a great brain or gifted or super-smart. All I claim to have are ears through which I actually try to understand what is being said around me or to me.

Some people do not use their ears very well. They can hear alright, but they use their hearing selectively and half the time decide to ignore what is being said and not let it travel to their brains properly. In my line of work, customer service, I get to talk to people like this on a daily basis. Like a certain mistress who almost made me  cry out of frustration today.

She kept asking the same question about her card, and the second I tried to explain, she dismissed everything I said and told me that the company are thieves and then proceeded to once again tell me all she wanted was an answer to her question. My stomach is still hurting from my pointless half hour conversation with her.

Yeah, Ok, And I’m Queen Elizabeth

Liars, unreasonable liars, make me cringe. Everyone tells the occasional white lie, either out of politeness [“Oh, that hat is so cool!”] or out of laziness [“Yeah, I promise I’ll clean my room today.”] But people who lie to impress give me shivers of such intense annoyance, I can’t even explain it. I know my response is exaggerated – let them lie, right? Let them tell me whatever they want to impress me, I can just smile and nod and know it’s not true.

What gets to me, though, is that I want to shake them until they tell me WHY they’re lying. I had a friend in junior high who used to tell me and my friends that her uncle knew the whole cast of this Argentinian soap-opera that was big here. She went on and on about how they’d come to Israel just to meet her in a hotel in Eilat [it’s the supposed “resort city” of Israel.]

I’ve known other people who do this since then as well. But WHY must they do it? I don’t CARE if your uncle knows someone famous, it’s not going to make me like YOU any better! The world is a cruel, cruel place if people feel they need to lie and brag about their family connections just to give themselves worth.

But then we all know that already, I guess.