Admin tasks consequential from my mothers passing have meant that yours truly’s spent a great deal of time in the company of ‘on hold’ music in the last week or so. Circumstances resulting in GJ Strachan’s existence seeming to play out in a portal where telephony queues are the status quo and one prays in gratitude to the great god Speakerphone.

The latter gratefully affording me opportunity to undertake other tasks while spending 20+ minutes with Greensleeves or some other tepid musical accompaniment distortedly defiling my ear drums.

With blokes bearing a reputation as notoriously inept multi-taskers, my revelation of executing more than one job at once may seem an improbable landscape to those minus a Y chromosome. However, as I waited (sort of) patiently for responses from DWP, pension providers, local council and utility company customer representatives, laundry was folded, prose written, food prepped and correspondence prioritise by my fair hand.

It has to be said, though, not all waits were as irk free . For example one organisation, who will remain nameless, seemed to think it acceptable to replace ‘on hold’ music with a beeping sound which intermittently (every few seconds) desecrated my audio landscape.

Footnote – This beeping organisation only remains anonymous because I can’t recall who it was. If I could recollect the offenders I’d have no problem naming and shaming the inconsiderate pillocks.

I’m unsure of the psyche employed by companies when choosing which sounds to bequest valued customers when waiting for calls to receive human response. For all I know, the beeping aural backdrop maybe deliberately formed to p*** people off and reduce call waiting queues and times.

A strategy borne from surmising those more intolerant to the din would perhaps end their call; as a consequence causing consumers to maybe utilise a companies favoured (and significantly cheaper) choice of alternative interaction via online channels.

Remarkably for yours truly, I responded quite tolerantly during the occasions I was victim of a telephony gridlock; although as I alluded to earlier that was likely a consequence of using those times productively, performing other outstanding to do’s.

The only call which nearly caused me to snap was after I was told “Sorry this department can’t deal with your query. I’ll give you the number of the correct section.” following a 25 minute telephonic queue fest. As the facility (I was assured) wasn’t available to transfer my call, I’d another 20+ minute call before my request was resolved.

We Brits are known for the world over for dedication to forming and respecting a ruddy good queue on foot. Apparently, the first notable instances of Britons adhering to the queuing format came early in the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution dawned.

As cities grew in scale, larger numbers of people started to gravitate to them for work. Consequently, this influx of people required a more structured way to do everyday things, such as posting letters and buying items at local shops, ensuring these tasks could be done as quickly and effectively. Hence the queue was born.

Although foot queues are still a thing under the current zeitgeist, it seems in this electronic age and under COVID’s watch, if you don’t want to interact online, ‘lining up’ is predominantly undertaken over the phone.

Despite being advantageous to queuing by foot, in that it affords you to undertake simultaneous tasks without losing your place in the line, it’s clear face to face interaction between organisations and customers still leave lots to be desired.

Are we as tolerant to telephonic gridlock as our forebears were to orderly lining up on foot? I’d guess not, and that Greensleeves, beeping noises and distorted versions of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons have a lot to answer for!

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