By John Matonich
I remember the first time I heard the term “Oxymoron.” It caught my attention and I wanted to learn more about what it meant. I think the big examples in those days were “postal service” and “military intelligence.” I was young then and didn’t realize how many oxymorons would impact my life over the years, but they certainly have and it is getting worse instead of better.
I read on the web that the first oxymoron is credited to Maurus Servius Honoratus who around 400 AD came up with the oxymoron “keenly stupid.” Little did he know how much that one would stand the test of time. If you think about some of the things you may have heard or witnessed by some of our fellow humans, you would have to admit they can’t be described as just stupid. I never knew how to properly describe them until now. I believe I understand them better now that I know they aren’t simply stupid, but keenly stupid.
The most frequent oxymoron I have to deal with today is “customer service” because I don’t believe it exists any longer. I have never in my life been more frustrated than when I have to deal with the 500 options for getting answers only to find out that none of them work. I have sent emails, tried to chat online, called some number from never-never land and have even walked over 40 feet of hot coals in hopes of getting some help. Unfortunately, the only thing I have found to work is to forget it and go have a cocktail. Let the subscription lapse, leave the broken down vehicle where it stopped, leave the mower in the garage and buy a goat. All of these are better options than trying to deal with customer service.
I truly believe many of the customer service reps are actually trained to mentally torture you in hopes that you will buy a new gizmo rather than try to get answers from them on how to fix your old one. I wish I had a nickel for every time I had to give account info along with home address, bank account balance and firstborn’s birthweight only to have to repeat all of the info when I get transferred to the next idiot…oops, I mean customer service rep.
It can be one of the most frustrating experiences anyone can encounter. With all of this marvelous technology, why can’t we simply pick up the phone and speak with someone reasonably knowledgeable or at least able to find someone who is able to get you the answers you are looking for. I laugh at the typical phrase you hear at the beginning of the torture you are about to experience when you make that call. The first voice at the other end of the line will say, “This call may be monitored for quality assurance.” I guess I just found my newest oxymoron. I am sure there is someone somewhere who is sharpening their keen stupidity while being a part of intense training for “quality assurance.”
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.