The epic battle continues

It’s McCann versus Technology. Round 85. Humor me, if you will, while I vent.

Last week I called my cellular phone carrier to change my phone number. This would seem a simple enough task since, well, the phone carrier handles exactly that sort of thing as their business. And, to be fair, they are probably very good at that kind of thing.

If you can ever actually get to a human voice.

My call was greeted by a friendly-enough digitized voice. The mysterious voice, which we’ll call Lucille, told me to be patient and listen to her entire message, since some of their options have changed. I half-listened while playing with some strange fungus below the nail of my left index finger, and was chagrined when Lucille reached the end of her spiel and there was no option to speak to a real person.

I entered the option to listen to the message again. Let’s re-cap.

“Push 1 if you would like to hear your balance; push 2 if you need to change your billing address; push 3 if you would like to purchase even more minutes a month; push 4 if you would like to talk to young girls interested in meeting a handsome guy just like you ...

Sorry, at that point my phone line got crossed with Sam Harvey’s current call.

Having got the phone lines corrected, I re-dialled my call, and was somewhat happy to once again hear the tinny and familiar voice of Lucille. This time, I thought, I’d outsmart her. When she asks if me to push “1” if I’m calling from a touch-tone phone, I’ll just play it real cool and pretend I’m on an old rotary. Certainly this would get me some real-life human interaction.

“Push 1 if you are calling from a touch-tone phone.”


“Push 1 if you are calling from a touch-tone phone.”


“Thank you. Please pay attention to our whole message, as some of our options have changed ...”


How in the world did they mistake my silence for pushing ... oh, right. There aren’t many rotary cell phones, are there?

Now, back to our story ...

Realizing my fake rotary phone idea was not going to work with a being as diabolical and crafty as Lucille, I switched into Plan B. When in doubt, push “O.”

“You have entered O,” Lucille said, with what appeared to be a devilish tone. “That is our option to hear our entire message in French. Bonjour ...”

Flustered, I hung up immediately.

Then my phone rang. It was Lucille. And she was still talking in French. In a cold sweat I managed to push “3,” and the French-speaking Lucille stopped immediately. What replaced her was even more startling. A human came on the phone.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like to change my phone number.”

“Certainly. All I need is ...”

Just like that. All my anguish and rage dissipated with the simple sound of a human voice on the other end of the phone. Within five minutes, all the proper steps were taken to change my number and all that remained was the obnoxious task of getting out my new number to the roughly 1,750 people in my phone book. Of course, most of those people I don’t even talk to anymore, and some of them would be grateful to not even know my new number so they couldn’t be expected to gratuitously call me from time to time and ...

But I digress.

Strike one more blow for the glories of humanity and add one more strike to the annals of having to deal with computerized help lines. Smug, I went home for the night and relaxed. Feeling happy with myself for my temporary technological victory, I cued up an old movie and settled down for a long winter’s night. All was quiet until the phone rang.

“Bonjour ...”