Written by Ilona Ronay
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Topics: Research, Telephone

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Callers utilizing emergency telephone services such as 9-1-1 will no longer have immediate access to a live person, based on telephone company research indicating that callers are so accustomed to voice mail and e-mail that they become flustered and tongue-tied when asked by another human being for information, even during an emergency.

"It's been so long since I've talked to a live person on the phone that I wouldn't know what to say," one man admitted sheepishly. "I agree," said his wife. "Between voice mail and e-mail, it's a rare day when I talk to anyone except to scream obscenities at the drivers in front of me and behind me. I don't even talk to my husband!"

Therefore, a person dialling 9-1-1 will now encounter the following format: "If this is a life-threatening emergency, please press 1. If you wish to continue in English, please press 2. If you would like to learn a new language at this time, please press 3. If you would like to make a hotel reservation now, please press 4. If you would like to complete a brief survey and enter our contest to win an island vacation for 2, please press 5. If you are a medical professional who is also experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please handle it yourself and don't press anything. If you work for an HMO, hang up NOW; you're on your own. Remember when people tried to call you for help or to resolve billing disputes? Don't call this number again. If you have already died and are unclear whether to proceed to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Cleveland, or Detroit , please press the # sign. If none of these options is correct for your particular situation, please press O and leave a brief message. One of our telephone operators will get back to you within 5 to 7 business days. Please leave your name and phone number. Please remember to speak clearly. Please make sure that your message does not exceed 1 minute. And, if we disconnect you because we are experiencing heavy caller volume as we upgrade our capabilities to better serve you, please try again later, and have a good day!

The telephone company is also working on e-mail, snail mail, and carrier pigeon options for emergency calls and is accepting suggestions from the public on ways to improve the 9-1-1 system. If you would like to make a suggestion, please press the * sign now.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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