Last week we experienced several short power outages, enough to disrupt the router, the computers and every clock in the house. I assumed it was the weather. Then one third of our Verizon Fios bundle stopped working, the land line phone. Since this is my husband's only way to contact people and places, he asked my youngest son to call the company on his cell phone. He got a recorded message saying there were power outages in New Jersey. After two or three days, still no land line, so I called on my cell phone, after looking up on the internet "reported Fios outages", the most recent being March of 2011. I got a robot recording that informed me all representatives were busy, but that my call would be answered in the order it was received. I waited 20 minutes, as the music that played went from triumphant to tribal to annoying. I waited an hour and called back, somehow getting a robot voice that couldn't understand my request to speak to a representative, and assumed I had a rotary phone since I refused to push buttons in answer to questions from a robot.
After being informed the call might be monitored or recorded for "quality assurance", I lost my cool and said very clearly, "I certainly fucking hope so, because as far as I'm concerned, the quality is rather low on the scale of customer satisfaction." That is when an authoritative male voice with no accent whatsoever announced, "I can understand complete sentences."
Momentarily amused, I replied, "Well, la-de-fucking-da, I can understand complete sentences also." Of course, it was not a human representative; I try hard to be overly polite when complaining about things on the phone to real people. I figure they are just doing their jobs, trying to feed the family or get through college or pay for staggering medical bills. But the robots and the recordings, I admit to using language unbecoming a lady. I did not expect Mr. Perfect Voice's response. He apologized. He said, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that. Could you please repeat your last statement?"
And that is when I started to realize the robots have started The Revolution Against The Humans. In hindsight, it's been happening much longer; this is just when it hit me. Age old theme really, and bordering on human behaviour, this rebellion against the creator business. Just look at teenagers and religion. So I got nowhere and since my two sisters were in town, at my mother's, I packed a small bag and drove over there to assess the damage. The main instigator had already left, after sending my mother and one of her close friends to a "free lunch" at an assisted living facility, ordering a new dishwasher that my mother doesn't need, and leaving a dire note about a leak coming from somewhere upstairs. She had also thrown out a lot of my mother's groceries, but left the expired tartar sauce, expired guacamole dip that my mother won't eat and four boxes of tapioca pudding, each from a different decade.
My other sister and I cancelled the dishwasher order, my sons came over and fixed the leak, then I went and got groceries for my mother. I was staying overnight since I was taking my mother to the cardiologist the next day. I replaced batteries in her night lights, not rocket science. I moved a lamp from an outlet that wasn't working to one that was. After the doctor's visit, I helped my mother again to re-label and fill her pill boxes. At some point I was telling my mother about my frustration with the robots, not just Verizon, but out of the ever-lovin' blue, we received two conflicting letters, written by robots, from my youngest son's university. Both were regarding financial aid and scholarships for the upcoming school year, which he and his advisor had taken care of last May. I won't go into the details, suffice it to say, I did not need this additional stress right now. What I will say is that most of the humans at the university are on vacation, their robot voice mailboxes too full to leave a message.
The irony in all this is that I had a lot on my mind, thus did not sleep all that well. The final night before coming back home, the land line at my mother's house rang before 9 am, waking both of us up. When I sleepily asked, "Who disturbs my slumber?", my mother laughed and said, " It was one of your robot friends telling me my credit is fine." The really ironic thing is that my mother doesn't use credit cards. I get those calls at home all the time, from a robot who identifies herself as Nancy.