A few years ago, I had an affair with a company. Nothing big, it really doesn’t amount to much.
Let’s just say that a company owed me money and I realized it too late. So one day I found a message in my mail threatening with a bailiff and very high costs that were all for my account.
It was soon clear to me that it was a computer generated email. Fortunately there was a name under it, if I remember correctly the sender was Emma.
I immediately thought, ‘Emma doesn’t exist at all.’
I still manage to call the company in question to see if mine was correct. I immediately ended up in such an endless menu of options, but eventually an employee on the phone. She went to get my data first. “May I have your name, zip code and house number for verification?” I gave all that well. “What can I do for you?” she asked instead.
I explain that I had received an important email from Emma and that I wanted to talk to her about it.
“Unfortunately that won’t work, Mr. Fens.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Emma is at the office today”, the call center non-employee.
“I don’t think she’s ever been to the office,” I said at the time.
The result did not take long from the employee that Emma did not exist at all. The name was made up. The manager of the call center employee later explained to me that this was not strange at all: a lot of companies made up names when they started mailing.
In all states
It gets harder to get a real person on the phone when you call, let alone meet with a company. This country will be taken over by drop-down menus, telephone queues and robots that do a lot of e-mailing. The number of bank branches with real bankers is getting scarcer by the day. I can barely get through to my doctor. After another hopeless call menu, I can tell my complaint to the assistant. “Where exactly are you itching, Mr. Fens?”
When I call my bank’s general number, I must first and clearly state the subject I want to speak to. Cancellation insurance, I say calmly over the phone. “Sorry, we didn’t hear you, can you say you are calling again?” Two minutes later I’m in all states and I scream, “Cancellation Insurance, Cancellation Insurance, Cancellation Insurance. La, la, la.”
It’s not like doing all that stuff from them approaching you very personally by starting that these kind of call menus are there to be you. That’s all fake of course, just to use a wrong Dutch word.
When it comes to fake proximity, the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (I could also have used the initials NS) is the furthest. I wrote about it before. At stations, posters hang under Co, other parts of the station. But Co, Abdelkader and Shaula, or whatever they are called, are nowhere to be seen at the stations I frequent.
Neighborhood super of comfort
In this way, the increase in scale is making more and more in our country. For a long time the churches were still personal in the villages and towns. A kind of last human parachute. I am not giving away a WOB secret when I say that certainly the Roman Catholic Church is increasingly withdrawing and disappearing in mega mergers, eucharistic centers and indeed more often behind telephone menus. The other day I called a parish for Mass and got the pastor on the phone just like that. That was shocking.
Once upon a time, the Roman Catholic Church in our country was a convenience store of convenience, the owner of which always had an encouraging word. Now it’s becoming more of a contact form company.
And then the war will come here. Then I walk in the park, a drone comes towards me and I am stuck in the call menu of the Red Cross. Not a soldier to be seen anywhere. Even the wars are becoming more impersonal.
Trouw editor Fens has been following the Stijn church closely for decades and writes columns about faith and personal life. Read them back here.