I miss the good old days when I called a business and a real live person who could help me answered the phone. There weren’t recorded people on the other end of the line who directed me to push a certain button to reach someone who might be able to help me. There weren’t technological mishaps that prevented me from talking directly to real people and getting what I needed. I’m thinking, those days are long gone.
Here’s the scoop. I tried to access my medical records through an electronic patient portal that was offered by my health care provider. I opened the website, entered my name and email address, and created my account. In order to verify the account, I had to enter a PIN. I didn’t have a PIN number so I called the provider’s office.
My call was answered by a woman who sounded like a recording. She told me to “Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish.” I’m not sure why she asked me that and she wasn’t very friendly but I answered and she moved on to the next question. It was more a complicated than the first because it involved a menu of choices from which I had to select just one. The recorded woman said, “Press 1 for an appointment, 2 for prescriptions, 3 to reach the nutrition department, 4 if you are an insurance company, 5 to hear our office hours, 6 if you miss the good old days, and 7 if none of the previous items fit your needs. Okay, so I made up the menu item for the number 6, but whatever it was, I didn’t need it. I needed the ‘to get your PIN’ option. Since that wasn’t provided, I pressed 7 and waited.
A woman who didn’t sound like a recording answered. I explained what I needed and she told me to hold on. I held on to the desk in front of me but nothing happened except that she forwarded my call. I heard ringing and then another real woman answered. Not a real woman as in the Urban Dictionary sense, but a live woman as in the she was actually talking to me. Again, I explained what I needed and she forwarded my call to another extension. After 4 or 5 rings, another woman who sounded like a recording said, “This voicemail is not set up to receive messages. Goodbye.” Then she hung up the phone. So there I sat, staring at my computer, holding onto my desk, and listening to a dial tone. I still didn’t have a PIN.
I admit it. I said a few choice words as I threw a little hissy fit. Where was that real person who used to answer the phone and get me to the person who could help me? Why was technology delaying instead of helping me get my PIN? There were a few unladylike words mixed in all that, but I gained my composure, redialed the office number, and started the process all over again. Recorded woman asked me language preference and gave me the menu of options. Not recorded woman asked me what I wanted, told me to hold on, and forwarded me to the second not recorded woman. She got ready to forward me, but I stopped her. She put me on hold. When she came back on the line, she gave me the PIN. We hung up and I entered it into the box on the portal page. I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened and where I made a big mistake, but I’ll tell you anyway. The PIN didn’t work and I shouldn’t have hung up before I tried it. But I did and I was determined to make it work so I didn’t have to face the fact that I screwed up. I entered the number over and over and over again and got the same ‘invalid PIN’ message each and every time. I’m still beating myself up over the ‘hang up before trying mistake.’ I know better than that.
They say, and don’t ask me who ‘they’ are, that the third time is a charm so I redialed the office phone number and tried again. I went through the phone gauntlet and the final live woman said, “Oh, I gave you the wrong PIN.” I wanted to give her something wrong too, but I didn’t. Instead, I kept her on the line while I tried the new PIN. It worked and I finally accessed my electronic medical record. Only problem was, nothing that I wanted was in there. When I asked live woman why I couldn’t see what I wanted she said, “Oh, we had problems with the portal last night. I really don’t know what you should see in there because I’ve never used it. Try again in a few days and call back if you still can’t get what you need.” I hung up.
Boy, I miss the good old days when people who could actually help me answered the phone and technology didn’t interfere. Clearly, those days are long gone.
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