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Uh-oh, we're running out of numbers
dwain waldenbw

MOULTRIE — I recently tried to make a phone call to a company to address an issue relative to my profession. As I would expect, I got a recording. This is the world we live in today.
Now I understand why we have recordings. We live in a much more complex world than just a few years ago, and if something isn’t complex we will seek to make it that way because we don’t want to be left out. If programmed correctly, a recorded message may save you time. The key word here is “if.”
On this day the recording was giving me many options. Unfortunately the person on the recording was speaking very rapidly with a heavy accent.
None of the options being offered seemed to apply. Eventually I punched a number just to stop the process. I figured if I could just get a warm body on the phone, then maybe I could tell them to grab the janitor on the way past and send him down the hall to get someone else to pick up.
But as it turned out, I got another recording that further divided this company numerically. I was even given an option that involved the “pound sign.”
Again, the options didn’t seem to meet my needs but the recording did tell me I could dial “0” and hold for an associate.
At that point I was reminded that the conversation might be recorded and the very next available staffer would come on the line. Then music came on. It was classical music. No Merle Haggard. No Willie Nelson. But that was okay. It was soothing, and at that moment I needed soothing.
Eventually a person with a pulse came on the line. She said she would connect me with someone that might help me. I thought I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. But then that light appeared to be the glow from a lit fuse. I got connected to an entirely different company that had no idea what I was talking about.
So I hung up and found that little packet of Pepto Bismol tablets that I keep in my desk. And I made that humming noise that Sheriff Buford T. Justice would make in “Smokey And The Bandit.”
Following that episode, I went online to see if other people experience such frustrations. I found numerous comments. This was my favorite:
“Hello, the doctor is busy at the moment, however, if you would like to be transferred to another correspondent, please press the number that best fits your personality:
• If you are obsessive compulsive, please press "1" repeatedly.
• If you are codependent, please ask someone to press "2".
• If you have multiple personalities, please press "3", "4", and "5".
• If you are paranoid delusional, we know who you are and what you want, just stay on the line so we can trace your call.
• If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and the little voice will tell you which number to press.
• If you are manic depressive, it doesn't matter what number you press, no one will answer.”
So I got to wondering if somewhere there is a 911 service or a suicide hotline that has “call waiting.”
Now in all fairness I must contrast this with a call I made to New York City.
The lady who answered the phone spoke with a slow Southern accent. I thought I had dialed the wrong number. And she could tell right away that I wasn’t from the Bronx. I told her I was calling from Moultrie, Georgia.
And she said excitedly, “Oh honey I’m from just outside Albany!”
You would have thought someone had just rescued her puppy from a storm drain. I wanted to ask her how long she had been held captive and if I could help her escape before she turned into a recording. But apparently she was there of her on free will.

Dwain Walden is publisher/editor of the Moultrie Obsever. Email him at

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