••• Monday, April 18, 2005


Calling Mrs. Churbineksy.

Mrs. Churbinesky is a school soc*ial worker from a neighboring district. This morning, Mrs.Churbinesky left her phone number and a message on my voicemail, asking me to call her. So I did.

This seemingly simple act of techno-protocal went something like this:
You have reached the voicemail system of Easchet Ian Digh Middle School. No one is available to take your call at this time. If you know the extension of the person you are calling, please enter it now. For a complete listing of staff and their extensions, press 2.
Mrs. Churbinesky didn’t leave me an extension number, so I pressed “2.”
Please enter the first three digits of the last name of the person you are trying to reach.

Hmmmm...Churbinkesky…Sounds like a C-H-Ur to me.
To leave a message for extension 1046, please press one.

What the hell? If I knew the extension, I would've dialed it in the first place.

So, I try again, using the C-H-Er spelling.
To leave a message for extension 2435, press one.

Maybe it's spelled S-H-Er? So I hang up, redial and start all over. Again. Except this time, I seem to be getting somewhere....
Mrs. Shet, extension 1257. Mrs. Shinola, extension, 1573. Mr. Tingleberry, extension....
....Wait a minute. It went from Shet to Shingola to Tingleberry, with no Sherbiniski in between ski?

Hang up. Take a breath. And dial. Again.

This time, I went back to the C-H-E spelling, on purpose, to see if I could access one of the previously offered extensions. I wound up in the district's accounts payable department.

You may be wondering why I didn't take the easy exit from Technohell, by using the “If you wish to speak to the operator, press 0” option.

Well, I'll tell ya why. Because, on some deeply disturbed level, I'm kind of enjoying this idiocy. I'm attracted to it, even. And curious to find out, how perverted it can be.

Kind of like poking a cinnamon toothpick into chewing on a canker sore. I just can't stop myself. I need to feel it. Hate it. Defy it. And mostly, I need to beat it. I need to win. And pressing 0 would be admitting defeat.

After running through the entire staff listing two times, never learning Shet from Shingola, I caved. I pressed 0.

But (of course), instead of finally reaching a real time human voice, I heard nothing. Not even a voicemail option. After about 30 seconds of silence, I hear a beep. A "leave a message after the" kind of beep, without invitation to record. After another 30 seconds, I hear "Your message has been recorded. If you are finished, you may hang up." (Why, thank you.) "If you want to hear a listing of other options, please press 1.."

In a gesture of deference and concession, I gently let the handset drop to floor, and rest my forehead on the phone's key pad. Then, in a voice from the floor, I hear “Easchet Ian Digh Middle School. Hello? Anyone there?”

By the time I grab the line and say "hello," I hear click, then nothing.


Later in the day, I finally reach Mrs. Chirbinesky. After taking care of business, I ventured a couple off-topic questions.

Spelling of last name?
Szcerbynszceski. (Some vowels have been added, to protect the innocent)

Phone extension number? She doesn't have one. Just call the main office, she says. Somebody always picks up.

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