I miss telephone operators.
It used to be that when I had a phone problem, all I had to do was dial 0 and a real person immediately answered. The operators were unfailing cheerful and well-mannered, and they seemed to care that I was having trouble. If they couldn’t fix the problem themselves, they always knew where to direct me for help.
Last week I was experiencing some telephone frustration. I needed to send an important fax, but every time I punched in the number a recorded message came onto the phone line saying, “This number cannot be completed as dialed. You must first dial a one or zero before the area code and number.”
The problem was, I DID dial a one every time I tried to send the fax. The fax failure notification that printed out with each unsuccessful attempt had the fully correct number printed right there on it. And yet the recorded voice kept insisting that I was omitting the first digit.
Controlling the urge to throw the phone across the room, I instead called our telephone service provider. All I wanted to ask was why the phone wouldn’t recognize the number I dialed. But that question was not on the list of recorded options. I went through five separate automated menus before finally receiving a message that a real live person would be with me after an approximate wait time of 13 minutes.
Seven minutes into holding, I was interrupted with a pressing situation at the center that had to be seen to immediately. With great reluctance I hung up the phone and never got back around to calling again because I just didn’t have 20-30 minutes left in my day to spend wrangling with advanced technology.
I understand that automated phone systems save businesses thousands of salary dollars. But I miss the human element. When my particular question or concern does not fall within the parameters of pre-recorded options, I feel shut off from help. I’ve actually had recordings hang up on me if I took too long to decide how best to categorize a query they hadn’t anticipated.
Fortunately, that kind of problem will never happen at the senior center. Real people take care of everything here, from answering phones to serving meals. This is one place where human relationships hold top priority.
Human service is evident in many of our senior center programs. Topping the list these days is the free Income Tax preparation assistance, available every Thursday in February and March and through April 11. Anyone seeking help may sign up between 8:30 a.m. and noon on any Thursday.
At 12:45 p.m. tomorrow, Feb. 15, following our monthly catfish dinner, Marie Riley, RN, will give a short presentation on emergency protocol. She will explain how to prepare information for emergency service responders, what to include and where to keep it, and offer valuable tips and information about how to respond to emergency situations. The presentation is open to anyone interested in attending.
On Monday, Feb. 18, our monthly Movie Night will feature “Silverado,” one of the best westerns ever made. The free soup-and-salad supper will begin at 6 p.m., and we’ll start the movie as soon as everyone is served. Everyone is invited regardless of age.
Don’t forget about our upcoming Gigantic Garage Sale on Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, at the City of Mineral Wells Activity Center, across from the city gym on Hood Road in Wolters Industrial Park.
Doors will open at 9 a.m. We will accept donations for the sale up through Wednesday afternoon, March 6. For especially great bargains, plan on shopping the Early Bird sale beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, with a $10 donation for admission.
We’re all about helping people at the senior center. Let us know how we may serve you. Give us a call or stop by any time we’re open, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every weekday. You’ll find a friendly, caring place here.