Thanks to a random, mind-blowing and slightly disturbing phone call I received at work the other day, I stumbled upon the stark realization that we have officially stepped into the future.
Now, I understand that the logical, sensible and overly literal reader (I have those?) would say “But SportsChump, with every passing second, we technically enter the future” and they’d be right, but what happened to me the other day made me feel like I was smack dab in the middle of an off-putting Steven Spielberg movie.
I was working, like always, behind the bar on a busy Friday evening.
The phone rang and I went to pick it up.
The person on the other end of the line was looking to make reservations for the following evening… except for one thing.
This was no person.
This was an automated reservations-maker brought to you by Google that sounded almost like a person… but was no person indeed. The whatever-it-was on the other end of the line was all robot with as close to a human-like voice as you can sound without of course, actually being human.
Here’s where shit got weird.
Despite not being a person, I continued my conversation with the robot on the other end of the phone as if it were a person. (I swear I don’t smoke weed anymore.) I asked the automated service everything I would normally ask a person making a reservation, i.e., how many people would be in the party, what was the name of the person making the reservation, what time they wanted their reservation and what would be the contact number.
It didn’t matter how I asked the question the cyborg had an answer. No curveball I threw the inanimate object on the other end of the phone would it not hit out of the park with a perfectly worded, human-like reply.
I hung up the phone a little uneasy, soon telling customers and co-workers about the call I had just received. I couldn’t help but feel prehistoric, like I was impeding the rest of society from advancing by then writing down the reservation I had just taken, with a pen, into a notebook. I might have well been chiseling it onto slate.
I’ve taken a thousand reservation calls over the years but never one quite like this. I’ve made reservations online before but none, as far as I know, ended up with a talking robot freaking out the person on the other end of the line.
Call me Jurassic but I prefer personal interaction. I’d still rather actually speak to a customer service representative than enter a whole bunch of beeps and boops awaiting an answer from Siri’s third cousin.
I looked forward to this person, named Dean, coming in to the restaurant to see if he was, in fact, a person or made of tin, however, an hour later, the robot (assumingly not named Dean) called back to cancel. He was extremely polite in doing so. It was the shortest relationship I’d ever had.
Still surprised by the encounter, I hung up the phone again and wondered how long it would be until I received another call just like that, whether this would be the wave of the future and whether human beings found it far more convenient to automate reservations rather than picking up the phone to make one themselves.
I get that we’re becoming more impersonal and less contact-oriented because of the pandemic but you can’t catch COVID over the phone. It is still okay, in fact, probably even good for you to interact with other human beings rather than speak words into a receiver for a computer to decipher.
But then again, why impede progress?