I know that call centres need to use scripts to encourage consistency amongst their agents but you know, this is all going too far.
We don't have to worry about inventing a race of androids, cyborgs or just robots that supercede humanity. We should be worrying that half our adult population will soon be talking like robots and show no signs of being able to exercise initiative at all.
I think there are a number of cases where being able to talk to a human (and here I mean someone who sounds and feels human in a symapthetic and empathic way) is really important.
Like when you are ill, have money troubles, are coping with ageing relatives, trying to deal with yours or a family member's breakdown - that kind of thing.
I had to contact the DWP a few days ago. It's been nearly three years that I have had cancer, now and while it is currently stable, I'm, not getting any better. The complete lack of testostorone means I can close my eyes and go to sleep any time, really. I certainly can't get through a day without being off a couple of times, at least. I don't have energy just a lot of weight from the steroids and I don't sleep well so tiredness is hardly suprising anyway. I can work part-time, I can write and use my mental skills but if I start gardening or anything physical, I soon realise my limitations against the old me. So when I asked if the lady could help, I really meant could she help. I wanted to talk with someone who must encounter similar people in my circumstance, who have worked 30 years or more and don't want to have to use support but have come to a point where they must.
I wanted some sympathy, a feeling that I was talking to a human being who would be on my side.
But it was not to be. As soon as she started with the statement that she had to ask the questions all the way through so could I not answer until she had finished and that I could be prosecuted, my house destroyed by the military, my family butchered, be taken away and water boarded, boiled in oil and all the rest of it - something she reminded me of every five or six questions in, I knew I might as well have been talking to a machine. Why not just have voice mail interview people and we can press 1 for yes and 2 for no and it can threaten us with extermination in that same dead fish voice?
It's one of the reasons I have always shied away from claiming anything even when I do have the right. The state doesn't see us as people but as nuisances, rebels claiming money that isn't ours, wasters, expenses to the state, useless, criminals.
I remember when I was made redundant. I had a plan to get back to work as a contractor but I started by claiming jobseeker's allowance. After all, I paid in all that money to the state during years of earning high salaries. I sat opposite some callow youth with maybe a year or two in full time work while he practically accused me of trying to get out of work. I turned on the little shite and said
"You do realise that I have worked for over thirty years, bank holidays, weekends, long hours, late nights and early mornings so don't make out I would ever not be interested in working but I work in a specialist field and I will get work in that field not the first rubbish you throw at me. I'm not some little lad out of school who has no skill and no idea. Now, please let me talk to your supervisor because this conversation is at an end."
I will grant that his supervisor did apologise. You should have seen everyone looking over their little cubicles to see who was being roasted by a member of the public. Most of the time, the DHSS types do the bullying.
I have no doubt that I will have the same experience when I contact the DWP for the next stage and any other government organisation that ought to be giving people like me support. We paid our stamps and our taxes. I was paying in enough to make this demand twice over when I did go back to contracting. The state had their pound of flesh and again when we paid the inflated student fees and living expenses to keep our kids out of this new planned debt cycle that the state wants to get them in.
The issue now is that there simply isn't enough part-time consultancy work for someone like me. I can't come and spend my time in the client office. I'll fall asleep at the desk/in a meeting/briefing/conference and that would look and feel unprofessional. I don't have the energy to drive far or charge about project managing. I have to steer towards retirement and do what I can between. I feel, as you can read, aggrieved for myself and those like me who really have put the years in and would like to continue doing so but we just can't.
So, please Mr Minister, I'm holding out my bowl for a bit of sympathy and support. Please can I have some more?