Service of Why

June 27th, 2016

Categories: Communications, Questions, Rail Travel, Telemarketers, Telephone Etiquette, Transportation, Travel

I ask questions in every post and the question word also appears in a few titles. Today I share some unrelated observations and ask WHY:

  • Do you think a mother pushing a stroller gave her young child a tablet to stare at when there was plenty to look at on the street between the traffic, other pedestrians, store windows and dogs passing by?  The child was so little—around one–and the screen so large that he could hardly hold the device that was crammed in between his legs and the stroler. We weren’t near each other for very long but while we were, not a word passed between them.
  • Do I go to the right in some elevators and to the left in others to reach the floor control buttons and inevitably, my instinct sends me the wrong way? Why aren’t these buttons installed universally either left or right?
  • Do telemarketers hire people who mumble? I asked one last week—an American—to repeat what he’d said. The phone volume was fine, I clearly heard the end of his intro—“and how are you today?”—yet totally missed who he represented or the reason for his call. He slurred his words while repeating, at 200 mph, what he’d uttered countless times before. When I couldn’t decipher or isolate a single word on the second go-‘round, I hung up.
  • Do companies require their live operators/receptionists to answer the phone with a ridiculously long greeting—and not because the name of the firm is of the “Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith” variety–thus wasting everyone’s time?
  • Do some general call-in numbers never work? Take 511. I access it to confirm train schedules and to learn if the railroad is running from upstate NY to NYC, and not a substitute bus. [If a bus, passengers must arrive at the station 40 minutes before scheduled departure time. Miss the bus and you wait two hours for the next one. And the website isn’t always accurate.] From upstate, the electronic voice on the phone announces I’ve reached information for the Hudson/Catskill region. So far, so good. After that, whether I respond to prompts with my voice or by punching numbers on the phone, I end up with Long Island bus or NYC subway schedules and for the life of me, I can’t reach an operator or information about the Harlem Line I take.

Do you have answers to any of these or questions you’d like to pose?

Tags: , ,

6 Responses to “Service of Why”

  1. ASK Said:

    Telemarketers who mumble, and a lot of them do, simply don’t like being telemarketers…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That is no doubt the case or maybe they do not want me to know who they represent so I listen to a bit more of their pitch.

    Combine this with the fad to speak at breakneck speed while swallowing words to appear to be young and add a manager who didn’t tell his/her reports that being trendy wasn’t appropriate for a telemarketer and you get a lot of “WHAT?”

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    One should not judge the mom, since her goals are unknown. It might be wise to let the child become aware of his surroundings, as it will serve him well in the future. On the other hand, she may be grooming a future (& hopefully much healthier) Hawkins who will stand the scientific world on its ear.

    Life is way too short to be concerned over the location of elevator operators and/or buttons. It’s also too short to bother with telemarketers. If there’s no caller ID, just hang up. There’s a lengthy greeting when calling someone? Use the speaker phone and get things done. I sometimes work at a puzzle while waiting. It’s a fine lesson in multi-tasking.

    511 works fine. Coax it into getting a live person. Never used it before last week when in need to confirm a train schedule. A courteous rep responded in record time. This hurts, since there are many reasons to knock the MTA. Instead, one must rejoice in the fact this isn’t one of them!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Does someone who plunks a child in front of a TV all day think they may be grooming the Les Moonves of his/her generation or Rachel Maddow?

    I’m not concerned about what side the switches are placed, only curious as to why I seem inevitably to go to the wrong side and I wonder why they can’t all be on the same–or on both–sides of an elevator entrance.

    As for 511 I haven’t tried it once, I’ve tried to get through countless times and stick by my criticism. Every so often, I get a person. Very rarely. I find the system unsatisfactory. It should work nine out of 10 times or get another system. A friend who also takes the train back and forth signed up for the Metro North app that is supposed to notify him of schedule changes or delays. He lives in a house with WiFi and in a town with mobile phone access. He rarely gets appropriate news.

  5. hb Said:

    To answer your questions:

    1. Technology, for better or worse, has become such an insidiously compelling force that the mother is doing the fashionably “correct” thing pacifying her child with a “tablet.” Furthermore, as with TV, we now know that the brain is even more comatose looking at a “screen” than when it is when asleep. From the mother’s point of view, it works!

    2. The left and right issue on elevator floor buttons does not bother me. I cannot keep track of left and right anyway.

    3. I can’t imagine a more depressing job than having to listen to people always hanging up on you. I don’t blame them for mumbling. My gripe is with those who call and speak in unintelligible dialects of English.

    4. I’m so grateful to hear the live voice of an operator when I call that I don’t care how long the name of their firm is. That said, I’ve found most firms use shortened versions of their name like Morgan/Chase Manhattan. If you are poor you generally reach “Chase” and if you are rich, “J.P. Morgan.”

    5. Being both dyslectic and lacking hand/eye coordination, I do not survive “push one, push two” systems. If I am unable to speak with a live operator, I simply stop trying to call. It cannot be that important. Why do firms do it? To shift the burden (and expense) of phone answering from themselves to their customers.

    Incidentally, there is no point in complaining about gripes like this. “Progress” always trumps common sense.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I suppose this post came off as a bunch of gripes for which I apologize.

    I’m not related to the neglected child, so that was more of an observation and real question.

    The elevator mixup is clearly a “thing” only with me though I am curious to know why the buttons aren’t always on one side.

    I subscribe to doing the best you can if you are being paid to do a job or have agreed to do something as a volunteer so I don’t forgive the garbled chatter of a telemarketer because he/she hates their job or hearing the click of rejection.

    I’ll take a live voice every time except I find that today, due to lack of training, many a live voice shares incorrect information. THAT I gripe about as it wastes my time.

    Pushing chores at me that manufacturers and services used to cover IS a gripe. Customers should be rewarded with lower prices but that doesn’t happen: Fees increase as do price tags. In fact, I often must pay a specialist to handle some of these chores adding hot sauce to the wound.

Leave a Reply