Hank Isaac on Cultural Confusion – Or Is It…Time Travel?

by Hank Isaac

Is It Possible to be a Time Traveler and Not Know It?

I find what people say and how they say it both generally fascinating and discouraging.

And I wonder why, as I get older, things make less and less sense when they should really be making more and more sense. I suspect when I finally expire, I will be totally clueless.

Examples:

  • I call my health care provider (name made up for, well, you know) and this is the recording I get:

“Welcome to Bayside Healthcare Associates. Bayside is here twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to provide the best health care services available. Our doctors represent some of the finest medical professionals available and our staff is ready and willing to provide you with timely and excellent services. Please listen carefully to the following options, as our menu has recently been updated. If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Bayside Healthcare Associates does not offer emergency room services…”

Hold it!

Like thirty seconds into the message and NOW you tell me to dial 911?

Why aren’t those the first words out of the mouth of the professionally-recorded voice answering thingy?

  • The film permit office in the town where I’ve done some filming is essentially a one-person city department. They do have a complete permitting process and forms to fill out. Which I do. Then I hand them in.

One time, I called to check on the permit’s status. I was told, “There has been a problem with the permit.” So now my mind is racing. I have only a few days to find a new city or change the story completely and I have rented equipment which is now in the air from the other side of the country and it’s landing here tomorrow and…

So I ask, “Do we get the permit?”

And the response is, “The problem involves the use of the alley behind Nathan’s at three in the morning…”

So I ask again, “But will we get the permit by next Friday?”

“I’m trying to tell you. The alley behind Nathan’s…

This exchange continues for about a dozen more rounds. And it gets heated with me saying things like, “Can’t you just tell me if we got the permit or not?”

And the person on the other end of the call saying things like, “If you’ll stop interrupting and just let me finish…”

Bottom line: We got the permit. WE’D ALWAYS HAD the permit. It’s just that the permit person for some reason couldn’t say, “You’ve got your permit but let me tell you what we had to go through to get it.”

THEN I would be listening.

The person HAD to lay out the history in chronological order, not even considering what having or not having the permit would mean to the person who was requesting it.

  • Which would you rather hear if this happened to you (it’s made up–didn’t happen to me):

The phone rings. You answer.

“Hello, is this Mr. Jones?”

“Yes?”

“Mr. Jones, this is Officer Melbourne from the Dayton police. Your daughter has been in a accident…,” etc.

…or…

“Mr. Jones, this is Officer Melbourne from the Dayton police. Your daughter is fine. Completely fine. She was in an accident, but…,” etc.

My point is that when a speaker buries the lead, it’s great for filmed stories but pretty bad for real life. Can generate unnecessary concern. Even panic. And for no reason.

  • Twice now in my lifetime–oddly only within the past ten years or so–I’ve come up against this sort of recorded phone answering message:

“Hi! You’ve reached Mary Smith. I can’t take your call right now but if you leave your name and number and a brief message, I’ll get back to you at my earliest convenience.”

What about my convenience? Anybody see the problem here?


It’s becoming a world where everyone seems to know the right words, just not where or when to use them.

Who do we thank for this? Parents? Schools? The Internet?

And I don’t care — I’m gonna keep using a double space after periods. I’m reading a book now where I keep overrunning the ends of sentences ’cause the first word of the next sentence is way too close to its predecessor.

Anyone know what day it is?


Hank Isaac is an award-winning indie film writer/producer/director who collects awards as easily as dogs collect fleas. TVWriter™ is always happy to see his unique contributions.

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