Sinking lower on the pecking order

by Ken Carpenter

I think I may have discovered a new low in human indignity recently. I was dissed by a telephone computer voice.
Before I go any further I guess I should explain that “diss” is a slang term for disrespect. As in “Don’t diss my threads dude, you ain’t nothin but a jive-monkey goodwill poster child.”
Anyway, I had to make one of those consistently irritating phone calls that make you jump through a myriad of hoops just to get a one-line answer to a technical or financial question.
“Please sir, pick one of the 69 options, press the corresponding number, push pound twice, spin around three times, face toward the Northeast, lean into the wind and vigorously scratch your rump as if your life depends on it. Uh oh, you leaned with the wind, please start over.”
After choosing options and pushing buttons until I was wobbly, I drew near to my goal. Then, to my horror, I got confused and didn’t know what to push. I waited, thinking that the slightly nasal, computerized female would coax me to replay the options with some convoluted sequence of buttons. I was right, but what I did not expect was the seriously nasty change in the voice that came back on the line.
Positively dripping with spiteful condescension, the cyber-witch’s insulting tone of voice tried to make me feel like the biggest idiot in the world. She might have succeeded if I hadn’t been overcome with the urge to strangle the programmer who designed the voice and its reactions. Disgustedly I finished my business.
For the first time I would have been grateful to get one of the sweet voiced, but English challenged, youths who man the many call centers in India. I realize that companies are saving money, but is it too much to ask that businesses in the United States answer their American customer’s service questions in easy to understand English?
It seems like the whole world is just waiting for the opportunity to diss someone before somebody else disses them. Even computers, who should be immune to human frailties, are now given the ability to display irreverence. While the Indian call centers are invariably polite, just the fact that we have to decipher what they are saying means that we are being disrespected by the companies we gave our business to.
I suppose I am not the best one to be griping about this, for I have a solid history of belittling anything I consider pompous, proper, politically correct or just plain anti-me. On the other hand, I’m not going to stop and you can’t make me.
Have you ordered a burger lately and had the twit behind the counter give you that arched eyebrow when you request a Diet-Coke with your Monster Burger and fries? That would be known as the silent diss, and maybe I like Diet-Coke! No, I don’t, but many do.
Anybody went through the checkout and had the checker decide a price check is needed on the hemorrhoid ointment you have hidden behind the 48 pack of toilet paper?
“Price check on the 99-ounce, industrial strength Preparation –H, puhleez. Bring it to Lane 9, I repeat, bring it to Lane 9 where the little dumpy guy with the saggy-bottom pants is waiting oh so patiently.”
That would be the amplified diss, everybody’s favorite.
I guess I’d feel better if I got to do some dissing instead of being the straight man for all the insult artists, but somehow I don’t feel like it is in the cards.
Having a computer treat you as if you are the one who is the mindless boob is not a good sign for the future.

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