Friday, April 11, 2008


Great. My drugstore has been absorbed by voice mail conformity.

Instead of speaking with a human being, I have to make a refill via the keypad on my phone. I punch in my Rx number; the robot voice tells me that my prescription will be ready in two hours.

Of course, when I show up at the drugstore at the proper time, my prescription hasn’t been filled. I explain that I used the “robot system” when I called.

The pharmacist apologizes; the voice mail system is new. She mentions that she forgot to check the green box on her computer screen telling her the deadline for processing my order. Four other people had called before me and their prescriptions are also overdue.

“So,” I joked, “you become a robot for a robot.”

She smiled. “Here’s your refill. Not as good as a robot.”

“Better,” I observed. “Robots don’t smile.”

I didn’t add that human beings are more responsive; information can easily be gained from one.

I learned from the pharmacist what to do next time when I call in a refill. When the voice mail activates, hit O and I’ll be connected to a real live person.


X. Dell said...

Nothing beats dealing with another person. I'm sometimes (pleasantly) shocked when I call a company and a person answers the phone.

The late-Jane Barbe, the actress whose voice still graces many working "robot systems" said that they get on her nerves too. So I'm sure you're not alone in your observations vis-a-vis the inefficiency of the efficient machine.

Ray said...

X. Dell:

And maybe in our lifetime we'll see human-looking robots acting as clerks. Of course, nowadays many people have to work two part-time jobs to make a full-time paycheck (without health benefits). Replace people with robots and watch that screw up economy. Sure, robots don't complain, but they don't spend money, either. One of the causes of the Great Depression: not enough people with money to buy all the widgets the factories were pumping out.


Doug said...

I'm torn. I have no faith in our species, but robots clearly aren't the answer either.

Mice. It must be the mice.

(Yes, a Hitchhikers Guide reference.)

Ray said...


I'm not in right now. Please leave a message after the beep.