Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of my second hour with customer support and I’m rattling off my account number for the 40th time, I’ll think about the appropriate penalty for the person who set up the system in the first place.
I’ve often said that the guy who invented speed bumps should be strapped to the bottom of a sports car chassis and driven over a few of those monsters at high speed. For the people who design websites and medical forms, we need to come up with something decidedly more severe.
We’ve all been through the drill. We try to open an account and the system rejects our password because it doesn’t have an ampersand, or because it does, or it has no caps or too many caps or not enough irony. Or we call customer support and we have to enter our account number at least twice before a human being picks up the phone…to ask for our account number.
As the customer service rep reads her required script, I try to shorten the process by answering all the questions I know she’s going to ask, but she still goes through the recitation of data points—or risk being fired. I’ll tell her I know she didn’t make up the rules, or the script, but I really, seriously, desperately want to get my hands on the person who is responsible for the extra 35 minutes I’ll spend on this nonsense.
It’s the same thing when we’re offline in the doctor’s office, where they hand you four pages of questions to answer while waiting for your appointment. Yes...
...all the information you’re about to give them is the same thing they asked when you contacted them the first time and...
...all of it is already in the portal they made you sign up for when made the appointment, and...
...it’s absolutely certain the doctor will not look at the form after you fill it out,...
...but that’s no reason to let it slide.
There’s no way to fix it, as we know, because the nameless and faceless drones who put the hamster wheels in motion left the company a long time ago. Since then, there’s no one on the payroll with a career interest in making their processes more user friendly, or efficient, or sensible.
Strapping them to the bottom of a sports car and driving over a speed bump is too good for them, but they aren’t the only ones who come up with rules that make no sense. For instance, who was it that decided:
The world is filled with arbitrary rules that we follow as if they flowed logically from a font of wisdom, including rules we have to comply with in order to get support from the doctors and businesses we frequent. If you know who came up with any of these gems, let me know how to find them. I know a guy with a sports car.
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Why I want to be like Theda Bara, plus my brush with the most dangerous pop-up on the internet, among the items rattling around in my dormant mind these days…
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Dining out is pretty close to normal again, which is a continuing source of joy for a guy who’s energized by a noisy joint and really tired of doing his own dishes. Part Two of our celebration…
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Now that almost all the restrictions have been lifted and outdoor dining is available pretty much everywhere in the country, I’m rediscovering the joys of never, ever, ever cooking my own food. I’m also rediscovering some of the fascinating questions that come with restaurant visits, including…
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On behalf of the university, its staff, and all the alumni of our fine institution, I bid a warm welcome to the graduating class of 2021.
What an exciting year to be completing your studies at our university. Yes, I realize that you didn’t exactly complete your studies “at” our university, but we did include the school colors in all our Zoom backgrounds and we did insist that you rent space in our dorms even when you couldn’t be here, so it’s really the same thing.
At first, I was a bit nervous about speaking to such a large group, even on Zoom, but I remembered that incredibly sensible advice that I should imagine all of you are just sitting there in your underwear. And that’s easy to do, since I can see so many of you actually are sitting there in your underwear. Also, it turns out that Spiderman underpants come in adult sizes.
Of course, you didn’t travel all the way from your kitchen to your dining room table to listen to a long presentation about the glories of our university or the traditions we uphold. You want to hear about how special you are and how bright your future is, and you especially want to hear that you’ll be able to pay back your student loans before you die.
I am delighted to tell you that I can answer all your questions in the affirmative. Yes, you are a truly special class, a group of immensely gifted students who mastered the art of packing, again and again, while we announced and retracted our campus opening plans 42 times over the past 15 months. You completed more than 35,000 hours of distanced chemistry lab with only 17 homes burned down in the process. You made your school spirit known when you hacked into the scoreboard at the stadium to Rickroll the football team. And you certainly made your mark when you voted to replace our school mascot with a CBD gummy bear.
We know this past year has included a number of disappointments for you as we canceled many on-campus experiences. Many of you were upset you were unable to make out with your bae in the library and you couldn’t play Frisbee on the quad. You’ve told us you feel cheated because you didn’t spend enough time in our hallowed halls, partying with your friends in the dorm, and sharing meals in the cafeteria. (Well, actually nobody said they missed the cafeteria, but the staff there is very sensitive, so we are including them here.)
We feel your pain, but our attorneys want you to see this in the most positive of lights. When you return for your class reunions, it will be as if you are here for the first time. You’ll be energized and inspired as you experience the university in 3-D. And, of course, you’ll be surprised as you sample the unique offerings in our cafeteria. (Not pleasantly surprised, we know, but at least you’ll be grateful that you didn’t spend all four years dining on this stuff.)
Most important, our distanced journey over the past year has prepared you better than any other graduating class for the world you enter as adults. Working in isolation is now the number one job skill that almost every employer seeks. Whether you’ll be picking produce in the grocery store for Instacart or lubricating the self-driving cars for Uber or dropping Amazon boxes in somebody’s yard, your ability to thrive without human contact will make you even more valuable to the handful of companies that will still be hiring humans in the coming years.
For those of you who will be entering the white collar professions, your year of remote learning has prepared you for a lifetime career of working from home, sitting at the same dining room table where you have been based since early in 2020. While earlier graduating classes developed such obsolete skills as personal contact and team building, your graduating class is uniquely equipped for the brave new world of isolation, two-dimensional colleagues and, of course, working from home while wearing Spiderman underpants.
Yes, honored graduates, you are the most special, most prepared, most likely to succeed class in history. While many of the adjustments we made to your education over the past year were forced on us by the pandemic, we now recognize that they are the model we should follow from this day forward. Clearly, the incredible value of your remote education justifies the 27% tuition increase we implemented last September, and we look forward to increasing our distanced learning, and tuition, for many years to come.
And, no, we don’t give refunds.
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I can’t tell you how excited I am to file my tax return this year, along with all the other PATRIOTS who say the United States is the BEST COUNTRY ever. Tax Day is such a great holiday, an opportunity for all REAL AMERICANS to step up and be counted in the GREATEST DEMOCRACY with the GREATEST CONSTITUTION and the GREATEST PEOPLE. (Well, the greatest people if we exclude you-know-who from that other tribe.)
Frankly, I’m surprised the IRS site doesn’t have a tab to give them a tip when we e-file our payments. I tip the guy who brings me my cheeseburgers, so I should be able to tip the fine folks at the IRS who are handling my contribution to democracy. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, I’m excited to learn that our national government is an even bigger bargain than in the past, thanks to some really key new deductions that are available to selected taxpayers. (Readers will want to check with their own advisors to see if you qualify, of course.) Some of the new deductions are incredibly generous, just what you’d expect from your favorite Uncle, including:
I’m taking advantage of all of these special deductions and it looks like I’ll be getting a big refund from the BEST COUNTRY EVER. Not only am I scheduled to receive of $2,813,938, but my accountant thinks it’s pretty certain that the U.S. government will give me secure housing for the next 15-20 years, or maybe even my entire life.
Is this a great country, or what?
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Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.