I rang my Bank this morning - for an account enquiry. I dialed with trepidation and I was hoping for some human contact. The machine voice asked me to press ‘one’ for English. Then the # button. I was then instructed to input my sixteen-digit account number. Sixteen digits! Then the # button. The machine lady then asked me to input my six-digit telephone banking code. Then the # button.
I was prepared.
I did what I was told.
The next few minutes were frantic. They were electric.
I was then sent into a number selecting frenzy. I picked option three. Internet Banking enquiry. Then the # button. Option two. Overseas transfers. Then the # button. Option four. Payment not recorded. Then the # button. Then I waited.
I was patient.
Music then played. Dreadful music. I intermittently received a recorded message. The voice was male.
It was commanding.
It was soothing.
It said “Your call important to us. All of our customer services officers are currently busy at the moment. Please hold and we will transfer your call as soon as one is available”.
I persisted. Every three minutes the recorded message was repeated. I know this because I timed it. One hundred and eighty seconds. Eleven times. Thirty-three minutes. My patience had eroded. I was riled.
Eventually I heard a human voice and I was momentarily elated.
“How can I address you?” was the opening line.
“I am Peter” I replied.
“May I call you Mr. Peter?” was the next polite enquiry.
“You may” I responded.
“It is my name”.
“May I ask for yours?” I requested.
There was a pause. A deliberation. There was some palpable hesitation.
Eventually, “My name is Rajesh” was uttered.
“Before we proceed,” said Rajesh,
“I will be needing to ask you some security questions”.
‘I understand” I retorted.
“I will need to be asking some myself”.
“May I have your full name Mr. Peter?”
“May I have yours first please Mr. Rajesh?”
Remember, I had been waiting for thirty-three minutes. I was lost in the machine and I craved communication. There was a silence.
It was deafening.
“Are you there Mr. Rajesh?” I enquired.
“Can you hear me?”
Rajesh’s voice was hesitant. He replied “My name is Rajesh Adapa Ailani Polhuru”
I asked him to spell it as I wrote it down. I then gave him my name. He asked me to spell it. I assume he entered it into a computer. I could hear the keyboard clicking.
Data was being entered.
“Now I will be needing your date of birth,” asked Rajesh.
“But first I will be needing yours” I rebutted.
“But why” Rajesh asked. I could hear the anxiety in his voice.
“Security” I responded.
“I need to know that you are who you say you are”
We swapped dates of birth. Rajesh did so less willingly than me. For the record, he is a Virgo - I am an Aries.
“I have one more question Mr. Peter,” said Rajesh.
There was a tremor in his voice. I could feel his distress. I could taste his fear.
“Me too. Mr. Rajesh”. I asserted.
“I am needing the maiden name of your mother Mr. Peter”, he whispered.
“Please sir. Do not be asking mine”
“But I must Mr. Rajesh” I demanded.
“I simply must”
I thought I heard a wail before I was disconnected. Despite my enquiry going unanswered I felt a perverse sense of satisfaction.