Sunday, 25 October 2009

Banking Gone Haywire

     Another of those stupid bank letters arrived this morning; including yet more unnecessary pre-printed cheques. It is time to take action and telephone the branch. So what do I get at the end of the recommended number, an electronic voice?
     ‘Bank of NeverPay. Please key in your card details’, it intoned.

     First find card details then follow instructions.

     ‘Thank-you. Please add your date of birth, height to weight ratio.’

     Fortunately I had all the necessary security details clipped inside my file marked ‘Bank of NeverPay’.

     ‘Thank-you. For bank balance, press ‘1’; for loan department, press ‘2’; for insurance, press ‘3’; for other matters, press ‘4’.

     ‘Please, I would like to speak to a human being’ I responded as I pressed button ‘4’ with a firmer finger than I should.

     ‘Ouch!’ came the response from my bank. ‘For a male assistant, press ‘1’; for a female assistant, press ‘2’; if you have no preference, press ‘3’.

     Maybe had I pressed ‘3’, what happened next might not have occurred, but I believe bank employees should be men; I pressed button ‘1’.

     ‘All our male associates are busy at present. Please hold the line. Your call is important to us.’

     How I hate those words. ‘I am in a hurry. Put me through to an assistant, I don’t mind what sex. Just put me through’.

     ‘Please hold the line. Your call is important to us.’

     ‘For goodness sake you stupid, electronic piece of gadgetry! You’re sending me rubbish I don’t want and I am paying one pound a minute for the privilege of making this call. Put me through to an assistant.’ My face screwed up with agony as the electronics began to whirr once again, yet I carried on shouting:

     ‘And don’t tell me how important my call is; I know you’re lying!’

     With a catch in its voice the machine rolled on:

     ‘Please don’t shout at me. I may be attached to a Central Processing Unit, but I still have feelings. I’m not prepared to listen to your shouting. This call is being closed down. You should telephone again when you have calmed’. The machine sniffed deeply. ‘Please remember’ it almost sobbed ‘Your call is important to us.’

     So what would you have done? Surely my ears were deceiving me? Here I was, holding on to my telephone and shouting loudly:

     ‘No, no, please don’t go it has taken me ages to get this far. I’m sorry if I have caused upset; please don’t cut me off.’

     The response was simple:

     ‘The other person has cleared’

     I attempted the dialling procedure once more.

     ‘Bank of NeverPay. Please key in your card details. . . . . ‘

     My electronic voice; I breathed a sigh but relaxed too soon.

     ‘Oh, it’s you again. All of our associates are busy; please try later.

     I dialled once more.

     ‘I told you, all of our associates are busy; please try later.’

     On the basis of third time lucky, I dialled again. A resonant voice growled through my earpiece:

     ‘You have been asked to ring back later. Please cease this harassment immediately or put your query in writing and fax it to the Bank of NeverPay at Head Office’.

     My first fax was simple:

     ‘Sir,’ it said ‘in an attempt to speak to one of your associates I inadvertently upset your telephone answering system. I apologise for this and would ask someone to contact me as soon as convenient.’

     I received no response so tried for a second time.

     ‘Re my fax sent at 2.15p.m. I am writing to apologise for upsetting your computerised telephone answering system. Would you please pass on this apology and advise that I am sending a rose decorated mouse-mat to your company. This is intended for the personal use of T.A.S. and is sent with my best wishes. Please contact me before the end of play, today, to confirm my apology has been accepted?

     The wait was most distressing. I paced, I chewed my fingernails, drank copious cups of tea and packed the mouse-mat in readiness for the late collection. Still no response; I tried one last time.

     ‘Dear Sir,’ I implored ‘as you will appreciate from my recent faxes I am desperate to make amends for my misdemeanours. It was never my intention to upset TASSY whom is, I feel sure, a loyal and worthwhile member of your team and did not deserve to be upset in any way. I have already packed the mouse-mat and would also like to send the computerised equivalent of a bottle of champagne: WD40. Please ensure this is given to TASSY with my love and affection. A response to put me out of my misery would be gratefully received’.

     Very soon after this my fax machine whirred into action. Slowly, oh so slowly, a sales brochure from the Bank of NeverPay was being printed. At the bottom of the pre-printed cheques someone, or something, had placed three small kisses.

     I knew then that I had been completely forgiven.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

A Story in Threes

Supermarket shopping day
Pack the car
Stack the cupboards
Switch on cooker
Weigh out ingredients
Sieve some flour
Mix in salt
Yeast needs feeding
Give it sugar
Add to flour
Knead and plunge
Allow to rest
Knead and plunge
Allow to grow
Cook for twenty
Minutes or more
A tempting aroma
Makes mouth water
Remove from oven
Tap the base
Soon be eaten
Lashings of butter
This is how
To bake bread