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Robo calls bring memories of machine missteps

The phone rang yesterday, which was my birthday, so I scurried to the phone assuming it was a family member with birthday greetings. • I don't scurry well anymore. • I picked up the phone with a smile and discovered it was an automated reminder of Darling Husband's next appointment with his cardiologist. Drat! Unfortunately, Most of the calls we get are automated; robo calls. Few things in life annoy me more. We get robo calls from several doctor's offices, from our bank, from people taking automated surveys. With 2012 being an election year, the robo call tally will rise. You can't yell at a robot. Well, you can, but it isn't emotionally satisfying.

I really wonder why these folks think it's a good idea to use robo calls. Since I can't yell at them productively, I keep a mental score of who initiates these intrusions. My Goodwill Quotient goes down with every one of these accursed calls. The people doing this are job destroyers. What will become of the now out-of-work minions who used to make these calls? How will they feed their children and pay the rent? They have been replaced by … yes … robots! That has to be very destructive to one's self-esteem. I, for one, am outraged.

I confess, I do not have a good relationship with machines. Years ago I was an adequate mechanic. That was before every car had every function run by computers. Now my adversaries are almost always computers.

Take today for instance. I turned on my machine, hoping for the usual cooperation. But alas, today was the day that my machine wanted to assert its power. I was sure I had saved the column I had been working on for several days. Silly me. I had experienced the electronic equivalent of "The dog ate my homework." Apparently, I had violated some protocol or pushed an unauthorized key, but the result was my column was gone, vanished, snatched away, leaving me bereft.

I have heard that nothing ever vanishes from cyberspace, but I'm not consoled by the knowledge that it's out there. It emphatically isn't here.

When I was a kid in junior high, all the girls had to take a course called home economics. The idea was, girls need to know how to cook and sew. The boys had woodworking and mechanical shop. Clearly assumptions were made about boys and girls that would be laughable today.

We walked to the high school, which was a treat. We girls filed into the kitchen lab and learned how to make toast. Anything more complex was a real challenge, largely because we all had to participate. Cooking by committee is never a good idea. When we went into the sewing room, we all had our own sewing machines. I was about 11 at the time. I think the school system made a serious mistake in putting sewing machines into the hands of children. Especially children like me. That was my first personal contact with a machine of some complexity. The machines and I had an adversarial relationship.

We were supposed to be making aprons. I suppose they were meant for us to wear in the kitchen part of our training. Unfortunately for the school system, I did not have a knack for sewing machines and several of them suffered from my attempts. I generated thread balls in the bobbin compartment. The process of threading remained a mystery and the end result was an unfinished apron with the pleats in backward. There were thread clumps along many of the seams, which themselves wandered a bit. It was not a thing of beauty and I was not eager to take it home and show it off. I was off to a bad start with machines.

My older brother was a veteran of the boys courses. He was a very confident kid. He begged me to let him take my bike apart and lubricate all the bits. It wasn't the first time he conned me and it wouldn't be the last. He had a few wrenches and a screwdriver, and set up to do the job in our back yard. Once he had the stuff all taken apart and he had the parts spread out on the concrete, a monster thunderstorm struck. There was, in the middle of our back yard, a very large drain. Guess whose bike parts went down the drain?

So now I suffer the retribution of the machines. And the robo calls are just rubbing it in.

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write to her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Robo calls bring memories of machine missteps 12/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 3:30am]
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