The day before yesterday, Cow Central was besieged by enormous thunderstorms that lasted several hours throughout the afternoon. It was spectacular and scary. I had the great idea of attempting to record the thunder – it was the best rolling, echoing thunder I’ve heard in a long time. As I set my machine into record a phenomenal tearing shriek of thunder made me jump about three feet off the ground and sent The Spawn scurrying under the house. Here’s what it sounded like:

Download KABOOM!

– only a million times louder. Whatever did that, also knocked out the power to my house and brought down my internet. My net connection is not managed by the dreaded and appalling Telstra, but instead by Optus, another of our laughable telcos. I don’t have cause to ring Optus much – generally our net connection stays up – but since I was still completely cut off from the world when I woke up yesterday morning, I picked up the phone…

Oh crap. Now they have a robot too. It’s a little more brusque than the Telstra one, and a little less obsequious, but it’s still STUPID. But not as stupid as the real life operators, it seems, when I finally got through to one…

ME: Hello – my internet connection went down in the big storms yesterday and I was wondering if you could give me some idea when it will be up again.

CANDY:1 OK. Where are you situated (I tell her). OK. I’ll check for you.

♫ …tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and wh… ♪

CANDY: It looks like all the connections down there are affected by the storms.

ME: Yes I know that.

CANDY: On your modem, can you see a flashing light?

ME: Yes. There’s a line error.

CANDY: But is it an orange flashing light?

ME: Yes. Well, it’s a green flashing light on my modem, but yes, it tells me the line is out.

CANDY: Well that orange flashing light is the reason you don’t have internet.

ME: No, Candy, surely the reason I don’t have internet is that the line is down because of the storms. The flashing light is just an LED that tells me what’s going on.

CANDY: …….bzzzz… (I swear I could hear her brain making that kind of noise) Well, it looks like there are problems with the internet because of the big storms down there.

ME (wondering if garrotting is still a popular form of murder): Right. So, can you give me any kind of idea when the problem will be fixed?

CANDY: No, I’m sorry. When the orange light stops flashing the problem will be fixed and your internet will be working again.

Two Hours Pass.

I call again. This time the robot is unable to parse my sentence. When I try and explain that I want to talk about an internet outage, the machine doesn’t ‘understand’ me and goes through the process of trying a bunch of alternatives. It’s like playing a guessing game with a monkey. No, scratch that. It’s like playing guessing games with a lobotomized monkey.

After it finds that it can’t guess what I want, it says ‘Hmmm. I’m not understanding you.’ Jesus fucking Christ. ‘Hmmm.’??? Someone has programmed the damn thing with attitude!

I really hope they’ll eventually give it a nose, so I can punch it.

  1. Her real name. Or at least the one she told me []