Thursday, August 30, 2007

Foiled again!

Whatever happened to the good old days when one was actually greeted by a real live person on the other end of the telephone wire? Not only do most companies have automated menus, some of them are now voice operated. These systems are certainly not made with mothers in mind.

I am the proud owner of a rather loud toddler. He walks around being as loud as he pleases with no apparent motive. I suppose it’s fun. Perhaps he is being paid by some branch of the government (Toddlers Against Real Food, or TARF, for example) to conduct experiments concerning the actual level of sound/volume one must reach in order to effectively cease to hear any incoming noise. At any rate, the little man has come equipped with all of the nuances of being a child. That being said, when mommy picks up the phone that means the time has come to run around, be loud, and see what his little fingers can get into that was previously off-limits before mommy made the foolish decision to make a phone call.

The march of progress must go on; mommies must make calls; and toddlers must shout. Such is the nature of the universe. So today when I dialed the insurance company the “operator” picked up and began to ask a series of questions to determine where in “her” directory to route my call. Now, these menus are very sensitive to sound so that when a feeble elderly lady calls it can pick up on her far, far away voice and direct it appropriately. (Although everyone knows the little old lady is usually so confused by this technology that she continues to say, “hello… hello?” because she thinks that she actually has a living being on the other end. She remembers the good old days even better than us young folk do). As I was saying, these menus are extremely sensitive.

Robotic voice: “How can I assist you? Please say: claims, benefits, eligibility…”

Toddler: “Yell, yell, yell!”

Mommy: “Claims.”

You can see from the above illustration that the nice operator has very little chance of hearing the tiny eight-point font mommy over the bold-faced sixteen-point toddler. The result is that the robot will either ask you to repeat yourself or it will direct your call somewhere you don’t want it to, i.e. the staff lavatory. In an effort to victoriously complete this call I resort to glaring at the child in an attempt to communicate that I would like him to stop this rendition of “I Like to Hike” immediately. He doesn’t seem to get it because I am still lost inside the Cigna menu, and he is singing even louder. Next I try to lock myself in the bathroom. But after about two seconds I realize that I may not be able to hear him anymore, but I can’t see my little angel either. (For those of you without babies, this is not a good thing for so many reasons that I will not go into at this time.) After making some progress into the depths of the menu-labyrinth and locating my child, I try to smother the mouthpiece so I can instruct my little man to please get down off of the table. I eventually realize that it may be easier to chat with an actual person. After making myself clear to the automated menu, I am successfully transferred to an “associate,” and eventually complete the call.

The poor woman probably thought I was shouting at her; but I, eight-point font mommy, had triumphed. At least this time. Who knows what the future has in store for the next time I am cornered, two to one, by a shouting toddler and an automated menu.

No comments: