I’m standing in my room, slumped catatonically against a wall. A cellphone has leeched itself to the side of my face, and horrible, poppy jazz music is seeping into my eardrums, slowly turning my brain into a pile of Sexy Sax-Man mush. In my comatose state, I dimly wait for an end to the relentless musical deluge, but any real hope of ever getting off this line has faded long ago.
As I reach the pinnacle of despair—the music suddenly cuts short. My eyes widen, fingers grasp tightly at the phone, heart thuds with excitement: This could be it. Freedom. Salvation.
And then a sincere automated voice says, “Thank you for your patience; we here at Blah De Blah, Doesn’t Really Matter What Our Name Is Because We’re All the Same Incorporated, want you to know that your call is very important to us! Please stay on the line, someone will be with you shortly.”
Cue the despair.
Americans spend, on average, half their lives waiting on Customer Service phone lines. It’s the truth. No doubt about it. Highly extensive and totally-fabricated-on-the-spot studies have shown the typical citizen is exposed to more elevator music and statements of “Your call is very important to us!” than they are violent images on TV and McDonald’s value meals.
Large swathes of the nation are unable to perform their daily functions as they remain tethered to the phone, waiting like cattle for instructions on how to fix their exploded VitaMixes or get the satellite working again. The situation is so serious that the government has begun issuing emergency rations and supplies of Depends to those masses trapped in Customer Service limbo.
In the extremely off chance that anyone actually manages to get through to a “We’re here to serve you!” representative (inevitably just as the caller has resolved to hang up and do much more productive things with their life), a new sinister game emerges: having sparked the caller’s excitement by finally picking up, said rep begins transferring the caller throughout different departments and to half-competent secretaries.
“How may I help you, sir?”
“Hi. I’m trying to keep some semblance of a social life here,” the weary caller says. “That’s becoming rather difficult, because I’ve spent the last week and a half standing around waiting with a phone suctioned to my face. So if you could just answer my question and get me off this thing, that would be wonderful.”
“Of course sir. Let me transfer you over to someone who can do that for you.”
There’s no escaping the inevitable; once again sucked back into an unending marathon of maddeningly toe-tap-worthy jingles.
And somewhere along the line, the nth customer rep has forgotten whom they were transferring the caller to and ends up redirecting to a cellphone service rep in India.
“Hello,” says friendly Verizon salesman Baba Jaabir Suresh, also known as Bob. “Can I interest you in our premium long-distance package deals?”
“Nope, not even close to what I need!” the caller cries. “In fact, this is so far removed from what I was originally looking for, I may go set myself on fire!”
“Oh, we’ll get you back on track,” Bob says. “Let me transfer you over to the Dalai Lama.”
In all seriousness, it’s safe to assume that not even the Dalai Lama is immune to the Customer Service Waiting Game. It could be something as simple as his TiVo going down in the Kuger Yigtsang, and the spiritual leader would have to call in for repairs, soon to be subjected to unhealthy doses of Tibetan “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” No doubt it tests even his enormous patience.
And on the other end of the line, those Customer Service reps are cackling with malicious glee.