And, spare us the elevator music

By Lori Clinch

Today’s technological world is moving along at an incredible pace. Televisions are crystal clear and cell phones have replaced cameras, flashlights and record players. Meanwhile, our vehicles are all but driving themselves.

Yet, what hasn’t changed much in recent years is being put on hold whenever folks call a business with an inquiry.

I’m quite certain that I am not the only one who drops to her knees with a proverbial, “Ah come on!” after calling the cable television service and hearing a voice recording that gives several options.

“Press ‘one’ if you are calling about your bill, press ‘two’ if you are having trouble with your service,” and by the time we get to option 19, we want to drive to the facility and give the staff of option 36 the what for!

Just last week I tried to take a shortcut and pressed “zero.”  Sometimes that actually works and I was feeling quite clever until I was told by a recording with a curt voice that the option had not yet been presented as a choice and that I should have never selected it without being prompted.

It seriously made me wonder if Ms. Manners was involved.

I appreciate technology and the dollars it saves for these companies. Yet, I loathe going through 14 steps just to be put on hold for the, and I quote, “Next available representative.”

I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to their plight. Yet I would like to offer a word to the wise for the folks who create these holding tanks for callers.

If we, as a people, want to listen to music during our waiting time, we are probably going to provide it for ourselves. Just sayin.’

We don’t need to hear elevator music while we wait. Nobody enjoys listening to “Copacabana” and if the theme song of your business is all you have to play, well, then I for one would love it if you replaced it with silence so I could enjoy the sounds of Journey that I provided for myself via my iPhone.

We know our call is important to you (after all, we have heard this 100 times during our call). So please do not interrupt that “fine” music of yours every two minutes or so to tell us just how important we are.

When we hear a pause in that awful music, we hope against all hope that one of your “helpful representatives” has finally answered our call, and trust me when I say the tension is building!

When the pause is for a recording, yet again, telling us how important we are, well, the sentiment just seems insincere.

Being the sort of folks who love to multi-task, we have most likely put you, dear company, on speaker phone while we went back to bill paying, filing and Facebooking our 400 closest friends about our waiting experience.

Hence, when you finally come on the line with a real live person who loudly announces her name and intention, we bolt from our seats. Sadly enough, those of us with a bad memory cannot remember who you are or why we called you in the first place.

Don’t judge us. After all, 15 minutes have passed.

I know I am showing my age when I say that the worst “being put on hold” occasion occurs when one calls the lab at her local physician’s office.

“State your name, birthday, mother’s maiden name and the name of your first family pet.”

This naturally makes one wonder if one should state the first family pet or the first family pet one remembers. After all, inquiring minds want to know.

I was witness to the receiving end of such a phone call just the other day as I waited for the lovely receptionist in the lab to answer a series of questions on the telephone from a patient as I waited in person.

As I watched the receptionist, I wondered why this state-of-the-art office had not offered her an iPhone that would play Journey for her. After expressing many things, she was finally able to address me.

“I’m so sorry to make you wait,” she said. “I hate being put on hold.”

“Press 39,” I told her, “and then tell me all about it.”

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to