So, for reasons out of my control, I had to call a human being the other day. It was a guy I'd only met once before, and I wasn't even sure I had the correct number - but it was an important phone call. I needed to speak to Frank pretty urgently. Anyway, here's what happened:
OTHER PERSON: Hello, Jill speaking, can I take a message?
ME: (slightly thrown off) Uh... is Frank available?
OTHER PERSON: This is a messaging service, can I take a message?
ME: (still confused) But this is Frank's number, right?
OTHER PERSON: I don't know, this is a messaging service. I can confirm that this number belongs to (reads off the number I'd just typed into my phone, as if I'm an idiot who can't dial correctly). Can I take a message?
ME: Well, are you able to tell me whether he'll get back to me this afternoon? I kinda need to speak to him.
OTHER PERSON: (getting annoyed) I don't know, this is a messaging service. Can I take a message?
ME: (getting equally annoyed) But what's the point in a human answering the phone, then? I don't want to belittle your job, but it seems to me a machine could do your job just as efficiently. I'd even argue it would be more efficient, considering a recorded message could at least confirm I'd called Frank.
ME: Fine, get him to call me on this number...
I mean, Christ, I know there's a lot of pointless businesses out there, but this takes the cake. Unless you're physically incapable of answering the phone (i.e. disabled), what possible use could anyone have for a human answering machine? Surely once the answering machine was invented it made this entire industry obsolete? I realise some people are desperate for work, but how do you even explain a job like that to your friends?
© 2013 by The Free Man