"I'm Troubled"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, July 30, 2010

Last weekend I read the special political section devoted to the upcoming Aug. 3 primary election in the Huron Tribune. I was puzzled as I read responses to questions asked by persons hoping to represent my area. One or two of the individuals sounded like they did not understand the questions.

Most of the candidates running for commissioner seats responded with concerns regarding our beaches; the odor, muck and repeated closures of our beaches resulting from high E-Coli test results. I have a question regarding their answers and statements. If we the people are to believe we have scientist who can tell us what is in our food and water, why after years of testing can’t we determine what is causing problems on our shoreline and where it is coming from? Perhaps those that know don’t wish to go out on a limb and tell us.

Some people have claimed phosphates are the cause but they have been around the past 50 years. Why would someone want us to believe our problems are caused by something that has been around that long? I don’t claim to be a chemist but I do recall 50 years back when washing machines had parts that were dissolving. Chemist told us it was the result of using phosphates. I owned an appliance repair company at the time so I didn’t have to be a scientist to recognize the problems.

As I see it, if you take a ride around our beautiful county, the probable cause of muck along the shoreline can be seen all around. It can also be observed in what once was our wonderful fresh air. I would like to ask the present — and future commissioners to find the cause of our ongoing beach problems and take action to resolve them.

The newspaper requested reader’s opinions about their presentation of political information. My opinion is; folks at the paper made good choices in the past and I believe this change may confuse many people. I liked the old way better.

I know I keep talking about the phone but I want to comment on automatic answering systems — again. I’m old fashioned I guess, when I call someone it is because I want to talk to them. I never thought of this as being unusual or odd, I actually recall hearing it told that was what phones were designed to do, allow us talk to each other.

Answering messages on phones can be disturbing. I have a number I call frequently, when no one is in I get a response that declares; “blank & blank are not in now but you know the drill.” The couple with this message has used it for years and I guess I do know the drill because they always call back. Here is my question; if their automatic answering machine gets a call from an automatic calling machine, do they expect the machine calling to know the drill? Does the calling machine leave a message with the answering machine and if so what does the answering machine tell the people when they return?

Then there is the automated answering system that does not allow you to talk to a human. A few days ago I called my AAA insurance company to renew my membership. The answering machine asked for my member number which I provided then told me to push two if I wanted to renew. It then told me to push four if I wanted to pay with a credit card. I pushed four and the machine said enter the card number, which I did and the machine repeated the number back and told me to push two if the number was right, which I did. The machine then asked for my card’s expiration date and told me to enter that date, which they repeated followed by the request that I push two if they got it right. Then it asked for my three digit code number on the back of my card and follow that action by pushing the star on my phone.

I was simply trying to renew an extra insurance I carried for road service. I already have two other policies and I get those renewals without wearing out my finger or my phone. Since most card issuers advise you to refrain from giving your security code number to avoid identity theft, I chose to not follow the last prompt from the machine. The machine then asked me to hold, which I did, and they actually found a human to answer my call. When asked how they could help me, in an irritated, don’t bother me sounding voice, I told them to cancel my insurance. I explained I had carried their card since 1956 and each year or so the cost went up so I was not renewing.
This time I determined a good thing resulted from the use of an automatic answering system — it saved me money.

Hereafter, if I can’t talk to someone other than a machine, I am just going to hang up. That will take care of a small part of my aggravation with the phone automation problem.

I also do not like the poor messages placed on machines such as; “I’m either out of my office of away from my desk.” Wouldn’t “I’m away from the phone” make more sense? Or perhaps, “I’m sorry I am away from my phone, please leave a message and I will return your call.” And if you know when you will return, such as the next day, say so on your message so the person expecting your return call will know when to expect it. If you say you’ll return a call — do it or leave a message saying, “I am not expecting a call from you so I won’t call you back.” You may hurt their feelings but at least they won’t be hanging around waiting for your call.

There are a lot more of those messages I don’t care for but that will have to be another column.

Remember — Vote August 3rd!

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