Jan 192018

Last Saturday afternoon, as I was relaxing with my family, I got a call from one of the medical companies with whom I have a business relationship. I didn’t care for the timing of it, but it’s the first of the year, and the topic of the call was reasonable. I hung up after confirming twice that my understanding was accurate and that everything was handled satisfactorily.

Yesterday I got a voicemail from this same company, asking me to call them back. When I did this morning, the machine with which I spoke did not understand my multiple attempts to communicate and, rather than give me an opportunity to talk to a person, simply hung up on me.

(One day I shall write the definitive criticism of those godforsaken phonebots.)

So I called the customer service number, and I learned—guess what?—that, contrary to my twice-confirmed understanding on Saturday, everything was not handled satisfactorily.

The details are even more boring than this narrative so far, so I won’t share them. And the company doesn’t matter either. Both the nature of the details and the companies are all the same in this regard.

And you know what? I realize there is no malice here. No one sets out to do me harm, stress me out, or anything else. It just happens. It’s institutional. For many reasons—some good, some not; some accidental, some by design—the power, the intelligence, and the conscience required to handle these problems never converge in a single person.

I want to think about this stuff for one hour once a year and then have it fade into the background completely. (Gee, that’s my recollection of how it was 20 years ago.) I don’t want to have a “relationship” with you. I don’t want to think of you as a partner, or have your stupid app on my phone, or have to talk to another person on the phone who calls me William every single damned time s/he says anything.

I think a well-designed and highly secure (such that any information whatsoever could be exchanged) web site, staffed and supported by people with Asperger’s and a minimum IQ of 110, would suit me perfectly. Can we have that?

 Posted by at 11:00 am
Jan 152018

Now in new tasty orange!

Kids, don’t eat dishwasher detergent.

That’s where we are today, here, now, societally.

You know, I tend to magnify my parental shortcomings. In a certain frame of mind, it’s far easier for me to recall things I wish I’d handled differently, or just out-and-out mistakes, than it is for me to remember triumphs.

But then I see sincere guidance to adolescent human beings warning them not to place dishwasher detergent in their mouths, and I swell with self-regard. I think I must surely embody 99th-percentile parenthood excellence, my place in the Fatherhood Hall of Fame already guaranteed.

Now, certainly, our children have had misadventures of youth. There was an ill-conceived escalator encounter, for example. And there are perilous arenas whose doors we are only just now opening. I am most definitely not crowing too loudly. Ample opportunities for immaturity-driven bad news remain.

Hell, I’ve even issued dishwasher detergent advice at my house.

I’m just saying I never had to tell any kid of mine old enough to shave not to eat soap.

 Posted by at 2:56 pm