Direct me to a Human. Please!!

Direct me to a Human: Please!

You know how many times you have had to push buttons on the phone and how long it takes to finally get to a human voice. I do, too. It happens more and more lately and the questions they ask are way too numerous. More and more I am losing touch with having human contact. I am worried about the state of this happening especially in progressive top leading countries.

Busy running in circles doing things I think need to be done, I think to myself, what if I had lost my mind and none of these things would be getting done. Then, I think, perhaps, so what?  Instead of dwelling, I began to complete the rest of the tasks I have intended. I plugged in the flights to Texas and to Calgary using my aging, but still trustworthy computer. No human contact.  Why do I mention no human contact when I am just making reservations for flights to and from for both cities? It struck me that I had to answer eight robotic questions before I was allowed to state my difficulty with the online process.  Since I am very familiar with the online process, I knew there was a problem, otherwise I would have fretted and given up. Finally, after twelve and one half minutes I was transferred to someone, yes, a human, who told me they have been having problems all weekend with Safari and Firefox. No reservations have been able to go through and he could not help me because it after all, is an online fare. If you do not book the flight online, you cannot be offered the miraculously low price I found.  I started to cry. Not because of this eency weency event, but because of all of the events with so little human contact I have begun to notice in our society.  I think crying was a good human tactic because he got the job done for me. Within a few minutes I had been sent a confirmation of exactly what I had been unsuccessfully trying to complete without human contact. God Bless the human transaction.

I began to think of the many other situations where we used to have human contact, but now none. No wonder the world is in such an uproar emotionally and physically, no human contact.  In the past when you would go into the bank, you and your banker would kid around, chat a bit and then you would continue to get your business done. It was a little mini social outing.  Now you just chummy up to your computer and bank on line. No human contact there.

You need lunch and realize it is late, so you go downstairs to the food machine in the lobby of your workplace, punch a few buttons marking the food you want, make the payment by putting in your money; in some cases swiping your card and out comes your lunch.  You rush back up to the tenth or twentieth or thirtieth floor and munch out at your desk, sitting in front of your computer pushing buttons Hey, watch out, don’t get any crumbs on the keyboard. Watch that drink. Wet computers are history. The day is marching on and still no human contact.

Today is your doctor appointment. Oh goody, perhaps a human touch. You go into the office and the nurse straps a cuff onto your wrist, not touching you because he/she is fully gloved for the procedure. The doctor comes in gives a nod hello, sits down at his/her computer and scrolls through the screen, asking questions here and there, orders routine tests and sets you up for an EKG whether you have noted any symptoms one way or another. Your doctor gets up from the computer and wishes you a good day; you wish him a good day back and it is all over. No or very little human contact.  Did your doctor touch you during the entire exam?  Mine did not.

Kids need human contact, but these days you will find kids sitting alone with their Wii, Playstations, DS games or more recently you see kids plugged into their iPod, IPod Touch or iPad. Hours and hours go by and the kids are still alone and still manipulating their machine. Who are they talking with? Who is talking with them? Who is telling them things they need to know to be socially and culturally literate? What is streaming through to them from these machines (probably screaming through is a better way to phrase it) Have you listened lately? I have not.

I remember a novel by Isaac Asimov, “The Naked Sun,” written in the 50’s where robots outnumbered humans 10,000 to one. That was then and I am certain that number has risen into the millions and millions, maybe trillions.  Everything you do or want to do will soon be robotized. Something new: El Pollo Loco is testing a self-serve cash register. You can submit your order and pay without engaging in any human contact. If you wish to continue with no human contact you can go to Jack In The Box as well.  Heaven forbid you want to make a special order, like “hold the mayo and add the pickles.”

Here are some of the prompts I have collected that I think are interesting.

Click for full details.

Email only for tech support.

Keep dialing 0 at the prompts.

Dial ext X924 for live chat.

Ignore the talking voice and press 0. 

Say ”Technical Support” if you need help and the average wait time is 15 minutes.

You will receive automated reset options, which take about 4-6 minutes.

I love this one: “Press *# direct to human.”

Human beings are social creatures. Is long-term solitary confinement torture? I think, definitely. Tests done on monkeys when confined to solitary existences, go into emotional shock by rocking and self-clutching, refuse to eat and have died. The loneliness of lack of human warmth, a smile, a wink, the sound of a voice, the warmth of a touch is soul-destroying, so for all of us, who depend on you, stop talking to robots and seek the presence of a human, not a robotized humanoid. I am not suggesting you totally avoid robotics, but have a gentle mixing of the human element as well to fill the void. Your brain, your soul, your body and all that you are and are to become depend on human contact.

Posted by Sheila Clapkin on Sep 15, 2010 at

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suellen
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:12:09

    Sheila, this is fabulous! It needs to be submitted to the New York Times, Washington Post, magazines etc. Also think about Home Depot and the grocery store–You can check yourself out, bag your items, take them to your car and never even nod much less speak to a human! Loved it.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:37:51

      Oh, Suellen, I never thought of the checking out and bagging your own items. Brilliant!!
      I sure hope people will add to this because there are so many more non human events
      I did not think of and or include. Thank you for reading!


  2. Keith
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 16:41:05

    Well I too just got back from a few solitary duties. After going to the bank where I conducted all my business through the instant teller (because I needed cash), I drove to the gas station where I inserted my VISA card and proceeded to fill up. At the end I pressed “YES” to get my receipt and was soon on my way. There was never any human contact at all. Ah, remember the good old days when the people at the gas station would serve you with a smile? Fill up your car, wash the windows, check the oil, even out the air pressure in the tires. Well fuhgeddaboudit! Those times are gone for good.


    • sheila
      Sep 17, 2010 @ 21:55:55

      Keith, this is so cool. I wish I thought of your experiences and included them. Oh, thank you so much for reading. I admire you, btw.


  3. Keith
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 05:40:12

    I’m just adding a few more for your New York Times, Washington Post, magazines etc. article as suggested by Suellen (terrific idea by the way). I don’t usually watch commercials but I just saw one from Chase Bank advertising their new “app” for the ipod/iphone where you take a photo of the front and back of your checks and email them to the bank for deposit. Now THAT is just straight out of the future. PLUS, I just loaded an “app” that will arrange for a tow-truck from AAA and use the phone’s global GPS to pinpoint the location … and you never have to talk to anyone on the phone.


  4. Bob
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 18:01:08

    You just keep observing and you will see so much you did not even know was there. I think we need to talk more, we need to laugh more and we need to cry more. Then, we will be ready to love more.


  5. Sheryl Knopf
    Oct 24, 2010 @ 13:20:34

    Excellent article Shelia. Just found my e-mail about this site. Many great stories. This article in particular really spoke to me. Things are changing so quickly it is hard to keep up. Everything you said is true. I find that it is getting harder and harder to have conversations especially with some young people because of the speed at which they are going they don’t have the patience. Everything is being abriveated even life. Very few people are being trained how to listen.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Oct 26, 2010 @ 11:51:09

      Oh I love this comment. You really got me out of a slump, a writer’s block.
      I have to thank you so much. You are really great. Now I can sit down and write my newest blog.
      Whew. You are a lifesaver!! Loved hearing from you and hope to see you someday soon.
      I love YOU!!!


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Nov 14, 2010 @ 13:04:54

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. It makes me happy that you are reading.
      Also it makes me happy you understand so well. Hope to see you soon.
      I love YOU!


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