I'm sure there's a difference between the phone company and a team of highly-paid professional sadists, but I can't think of any offhand.
For instance, this morning I tried to dial a number I saw in the local paper's classifieds. I immediately got the saccharine-sweet computer voice of the phone company, that woman who sounds like she'd happily offer me an apple pie while simultaneously poking me with a sharp stick. "We're sorry," she says, not sounding sorry at all, "it is not necessary to dial a 1 before this number. Please hang up and try again."
So the phone company knows what number I am calling from. It knows what number I am calling to. It even knows what numbers I am or am not supposed to dial before the actual number. And yet with all that information, do they use a computer to figure out what the proper dialing sequence is and go ahead and connect me? Oh no, that would be logical. That would be kind. That might have the disastrous effect of making my dealings with the phone company pleasant, and we can't have that, after all, can we? I mean, Rule 8, Paragraph 12 of the Phone Company Code is very clear on this matter:
Make every experience having to do with the phone as painful as possible.In fact I understand that originally the standard phone handset contained an exposed wire designed to shock the customer whenever a number was dialed. Luckily electric prices went through the roof and they had to abandon that idea.
In any event, instead of using that wealth of information about who I am trying to get in touch with to actually, you know, help me get in touch with them, the phone company in its infinite wisdom instead uses their massive computer system to route me to a pre-recorded phone message telling me what I should have done, and then telling me to hang up and try again!
Why can't landline companies be like my cellular service? Cingular doesn't care if I'm calling my wife in the same room, or if I shouldn't have dialed a 1 or the area code, or if I need the area code AND the 1, or anything else -- I dial all the numbers the same and they figure it out, connecting me to the person I'm trying to call.
I don't understand why landline companies have gone through so much trouble to tell me what number I should have dialed, yet don't take the extra step to just dial it the right way for me already.
Maybe if I promise them I'll shock myself with a live electrical wire every time that message comes up they'll give in. It's worth a try.