Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: A newfangled phone system

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Diane Prather

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If you have a story idea, you can reach Diane Prather by writing to her at P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.

— Recently, I ordered a textbook via the phone from a publishing company.

It took time and patience to reach the correct department because the company had an automatic answering device with a number of push button choices.

It got me to wondering what would happen if a rancher had to rely on a similar phone system to get help with a problem - perhaps one requiring a veterinarian.

So, consider this scenario.

A rancher has reason to suspect one of his cows may have trouble calving, and he needs to reach the vet for advice. He looks through the phone numbers posted on a white board hanging on the barn wall, takes the cell phone out of his pocket, and dials the vet clinic.

Now the rancher didn't realize that the clinic has gone to a brand new phone system so he's surprised when a friendly voice answers with this message: "Thank you for calling Happy Animal Veterinarian Services. If you would like to continue this call in English, push 1 now. If you would like to continue the call in Spanish, push 2 now. If you would like to continue the call in French, Italian or another language, push 3 now."

The rancher pushes 1.

The voice continues. "This call may be monitored for quality assurance or training purposes. If you are calling from a pharmaceutical company, push 1 now. If you are calling from a company that sells grooming supplies or pet food, push 2 now. If you don't represent a supply company, push 3 now."

The rancher pushes 3.

"If you are not a current customer of Happy Animal Veterinary Services, we're inviting you to join us. Push 1 now. If you are already a customer, push 2 now."

The rancher has been checking on the cow. Can that be a water bag?

He pushes 2.

"If you are calling from a national park or wildlife refuge, push 1 now. If you are calling from a pet store or zoo, push 2 now. If you are calling from a ranch, push 3 now."

"Newfangled phone system," the rancher mutters to himself. He pushes 3.

"You have reached the ranch department of Happy Animal Veterinary Services. If you are calling about sheep, push 1 now. If you are calling about a horse, push 2 now. If you are calling about swine, push 3 now. If you are calling about cattle, push 4 now, If you are calling about goats, poultry or exotic ranch animals, push 5 now."

The rancher's cow is lying down. He pushes 4.

The choices continue. "You have reached the veterinarian department for cattle. To help us better direct your call, choose from the following menu. If your animal is bloated, push 1 now. If you think your animal has hardware disease, push 2 now. If your animal has broken bones or is lame, push 3 now. If your cow is having trouble calving, push 4 now. For other symptoms, push 5 now."

"Newfangled phone system," the rancher mutters. The cow is up, but getting ready to lie down again.

He pushes 4.

"If you are calling with a question, push 1 now. If you are calling to make an appointment to bring your cow in, push 2 now. If you are calling to have the doctor make a ranch visit, push 3 now."

Now, the rancher doesn't know what he needs. He really wants to talk to a live person. So he pushes 1.

"Thank you for calling Dr. Cow Specialist. However, the receptionist is out to lunch. Push 1 to return to the menu or stay on the line until 1 p.m."

The rancher looks at his watch. It's 12:30. Thinking that there's a choice he missed, he pushes 1.

"Thank you for calling Happy Animal Veterinary Services. If you would like to continue this call in English, push 1 now. If you would like to continue this call in Spanish, push 2 now. If you would like to continue this call in French, Italian or another language, push 3 now."

The rancher pushes 1. "Newfangled phone system!"

"This call may be monitored for quality assurance or training purposes."

The rancher hangs up the phone. He watches as the cow begins washing her newborn calf.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009. All rights reserved.

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