Friday, January 26, 2007

Faw faw fife faw

There are only a few phrases in the English language that strike fear, quite literally, deep into the very core of my being. While I know some of you will be thinking they are: 'JR who?', 'Sex with the lights on', 'Working three days in a row' and 'No TV like, EVER', I can assure you that even though any of the above would leave a bitter after-taste, I could stomach even them*.

No. The key phrase, guaranteed to make me hurl objects a distance that would make Hannu Siitonen jealous is this:

"You have reached our voice activated menu........."

Some of you will be shaking your heads with an unsympathetic querying look on your face saying "But Andi sweetheart, surely you mean the push button menu?". I can assure you dear readers, that no, in fact I was correct in my first choice.

This is the thing. I have a slight accent. Actually, not only do I have an English accent, I was also blessed to be born in the great County that is Yorkshire which meant I also inherited a 'flat cap and whippet' turn of tongue. This means that while I drop more H's than a juggler with wet 'ands, I also manage to make complete sentences sound like one word.

Most people here in this great United States of All-accents think it's "cute" and "awesome" which, yeah, when I first moved here was something I agreed with.

8 years later I've 'ad enough!

I refuse to speak with an American accent as I'm old and it sounds naff. Hugh Laurie is good at it. Me? Not so much. I sound like a shitfaced 2 year old Hillbilly. Really, I do! Trust me, I sound neither "cute" or "awesome".

Which brings me back to the voice activated menus. A typical conversation starts like so:

Crappy Computer Voice: "Please state your first name"
Me: "Andrea"
CCV: "Shartrenia? If correct say yes, if not say no"
Me: "No"
CCV: "Please state your first name"
Me: "Andrea"
CCV: "Sandra? If correct say yes, if not say no"
Me: "No"
CCV: "We will now connect you to our live customer service department, your average hold time is - 10/15 minutes, please hold"

and like an infomercial BUT WAIT!!!!! It gets better, because now I have to speak to someone who can barely put two words together and if they can't hear me correctly I'm even more screwed.

CCV: "Ma'am. can I take your first name please?"
Me: "Andrea"
CCV: "Now is that Orndr-eya or Ooooorndreya?"
Me: "Either or"
CCV: "Last name?"
Me: "Knapp"
CCV: "Nop?"
Me: "Knapp K-N-A-P-P"
CCV: "No need to get snotty Ma'am" (Slight emphasis on Ma'am....)

This is before we even get started on numbers!!! Note: If you are reading this with an American accent you are completely lost by now so I suggest you start at the beginning and read in your bestest English accent (which I assume would be just as "cute" and "awesome" as my American one!)

We continue........

CCV: "Can I have your telephone number starting with the area code"
Me: "440...."
CCV: (cutting in) "540?"
Me: "4 - FOUR, the number is FOUR FOUR ZERO"
CCV: "Again with the snotiness Ma'am......... please"
Me: "Continuing, 440-257...."
CCV: "347?"
Me: (warming up to throw the phone out of my window.....) "Bitch!"
CCV: (disconnect tone.............)

And there you have it! Voice activated Menus. Are you feeling my pain yet? Actually, my frustration doesn't end there. It has started at work too! Some time around Christmas, the Fire Department sends the fire trucks out to cover all the streets and they have Santa sitting on top of them giving candy out to the kids. While they do this, they have the sirens running to get the attention of all the little mites in case they can't smell the candy canes already.........

So I'm at work later that day and my conversation goes as follows:

Caller: "Why have the sirens been running all day?" (bear in mind they do this EVERY FLAMING YEAR!!!!)
Me: "The FD have the trucks out with Santa, giving candy to the kids"
Caller: "Huh?"
Me: (repeating exactly what I just said)
Caller: "I'm sorry, but I don't understand a word you are saying"
Me: "Hold on"

I gave the phone to one of the officers and advised him that the caller was misunderstanding three words:
  • Trucks which I should have pronounced "Trerks" as in Jerks
  • Santa which I should have pronounced "Sayna"
  • Candy which I should have pronounced "Cayandeeeee"
Once he repeated my sentence with the corrections made, she was all "Oh, I geddit!"

Are you seeing the look on my face right now? Are you?

I don't want to sound like a complete arse as I love living here in America, but as much of a melting pot the country is, certain aspects of every day life just don't conform to me (nor anyone else lucky enough to have been blessed with an accent) I guess you just have to have a typical Midwest accent to be actually understood by these systems and to get further than just giving out the area code of your telephone number! Can people down South give me a:

"Heyall Yeyas!"?

So there you have it. I have had to endure this three times today and I guess it has just got to me. Tomorrow I'll be back to complaining about snow, short weathermen and snoring.

Good day kind sir..........

*Well, actually, no I can't stomach them but for the post, lets pretend.........

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