Opinion: Column: The Following is a Test

Opinion: Column: The Following is a Test

Although you can adjust your television set, it's probably wise to have juiced the battery in your cellular phone. Better still, use your landline – if you have one – thereby preventing a dropped call right in the middle of your interminable hold. Because the call you’re about to make – to a government office – is likely not going to be made to the correct number or the correct person or at the correct time or even to the correct department.

And should you be lucky enough to reach an actual person with your call, the explanation for your call/the problem you're attempting to resolve, will no doubt result in a transfer which most likely will not be to the correct number, the correct person, at the correct time or even to the correct department.

Unfortunately, after perusing the government's website, you're just not smart enough to figure out exactly what number you're supposed to call. (Is anyone that smart?) And therefore you are likely going to experience this loop-de-loop – without the upset stomach.

And what makes your attempt even worse? Hanging up, since your call might be "answered in the order in which it was received."

Now presuming/assuming that a less-than-immediate solution will not be at hand, there are a few steps one should take in preparation to not make a bad situation worse:

  • Allow for plenty of time. Do not make this call when you're in a hurry, on break/at lunch or have a limited window of opportunity to complete your task. You will need to be in for the long haul, so to speak.
  • Try to make this call when you're able to sit/stand comfortably – for long periods of time. Moreover, make sure you have the privacy you need so that anything you say will not be heard (or held against you in a court of law) and any movements your body makes will likewise not be seen.

There's something about being stuck on the phone for long periods of time waiting, waiting, waiting; talking, talking, talking; hoping (you'll note I didn't say expecting) to reach the right person and/or resolve the problem/get the answer which prompted the call in the first place, which rarely brings out the best in the person on hold. Quite frankly, it's been my personal experience that it brings out the worst.

In addition to having the time and the place, one must also have the patience. That patience comes from proper preparation. And by “proper preparation” I mean the creature comforts: food, water and access to a bathroom.

The order really should be reversed, with bathroom access first and foremost. Being uncomfortable, shall we say, after finding the time and place, and then making the effort to navigate the government's website looking for the proper person, phone number, department and then in the midst of any success you might have accomplishing this Herculean feat, to have that very personal need interrupt the proceedings is the definition of poor planning.

Common sense has to prevail, or the consequences may be dire; you might have to start your calling process all over again. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

There is no greater satisfaction than surviving making one of these calls, and having done so because you put all of your adult Boy Scout skills to work. There really should be a badge of honor one can earn after completing this dreaded and arduous task.

In fact, there should be some kind of reward. Although I imagine reaching nirvana (not listening to Nirvana) is its own reward.

Nevertheless, having survived the ordeal and endured the suffering for as many minutes as I care not to remember, I can say with absolute certainty, it's a hell of a feeling. I wish you all well in your next pursuit of truth and justice despite the American Way.