that always call me on the phone, that have finally begun to freak me out. "This is your Rite-Aid Calling." "This is the office of Doctor Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah Bwah (Charlie Brown bus driver voice) calling to confirm your appointment on (pause) Thursday (pause) March 20 (pause) at (pause) 11-thirty ay emm." "This is AT & T calling with a customer satisfaction survey. If you have time to take the survey, please press one. If you were satisfied with your customer service call, press one. If you wanted to reach through the phone and kick the agent's ass, press three." Seriously. And then there's the ominous ones, like the computer voice that told me that the call was CMRE financial services (the organization that UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center sics on patients who don't pay the inflated and improper bills they send to you instead of to your insurance company. That's a whole other story, but the bottom line is that I am all paid up with UCLA, but this CMRE keeps calling me anyway. And they can't even have a person call me---it's this machine. The first time I got the machine I hung up on it because it freaked me out.
"If you are not (pause) Cynthia Birdy, please hang up. If you stay on the line, you certify that you are (pause) Cynthia Birdy." I thought, shit! What am I getting into if I stay on the line? I hung up the phone.
But the machine called again and said the same thing to my answering machine. Realizing it was my own answering machine playing the message for me, and that by listening to it I was not necessarily "certifying" anything, I went ahead and listened. The message told me to "call CMRE Financial Services" about my "account". But the whole thing left me tripped out and pissed off. They can't even do me the courtesy of having a human being call me. It's all reduced to machines, dealing with customers via machinery, and now the machines are even calling asking for money on behalf of a client that has no business with me at all. And they want ME to call THEM!
So I don't pick up the phone much anymore. And I certainly don't carry a phone with me. I keep one in my car in case of emergencies. But I regard the phone as an intrusion, which is how Steveo always dealt with it. I'm afraid I see it the same way. Now I was delighted to get your notes via your phone last night. That's the wonder of modern technology, that I can be comforted by someone sending the very words and text that I'm complaining about. We all have these little boxes and glowing tablets we stare into, to get our human contact. My problem is it seems to be drawing people away from the present. But if the present is full of apathetic, distracted people who only want to stare into their phones, why do I want to be in it, anyway? I'll just go home and smoke a bunch of spice and be perfectly happy.
But thanks for writing to me, anyway. My ambivalence toward technology is typical of my ambivalence toward human contact in general. Much easier to be a critic than it is to engage. But when engagement is reduced to text on a screen, I get to feeling lonely.
I want to hear the sound of voices, but radio is a wasteland. Except for Randi Rhodes, who is a thorougly bitchen babe. She said today that NPR is conservative. And you know what? I agree with her.