If there were a Guinness Book of World Records category for the number of “Most Inane Conversations”, I would win. It’s not even a contest. How I have become the Queen of Inane Conversations is still a bit of a mystery to me. I like to think that my guardian angel is actually a batty broad herself with a demented sense of humor and she finds pleasure in seeing me writhe in pain during said conversations. It’s either that or my whole life is one long episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m starting to lean toward the Twilight Zone option because every time one of these conversations starts it’s as though I can hear Rod Sterlings voice in my head: ”You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the sign post up ahead, your next stop…The Twilight Zone!”
A few weeks ago I received a message from one of my customers that began the first of many inane conversations that we would have. Every time I receive a message from her since this first conversation I can hear the Twilight Zone theme musics start to build in my mind.
The conversation went like this -
Customer: Spell check is not working properly, can you fix it?
Me: What do you mean by “not working properly”? Is it skipping over words that are misspelled?
Customer: Yes it did not correct the word manager when it was misspelled
Me: Okay can you send me what you wrote that did not get corrected?
Customer: – sends over the text – the text reads “….senor manger….”
Me: Okay well I can see the problem but there is nothing I can do to fix it
Customer: What is the problem?
Me: (cue the Twilight Zone music) senor and manger ARE WORDS (although technically senor is a Spanish word, it’s still a word)
Customer: But that is not what I was trying to write. I wanted it to say Senior and Manager
Me: I understand but there is no way for spell check to know what you MEANT to write
***Now for a commercial interruption***
No, this isn’t actually a commercial but it is my moment to take a deep breath and vent so that I don’t develop an acute case of turrets and starts spewing profanity at the customer.
So here is what I WANT TO SAY: So let me get this straight…you would not only like “spell check” to check your spelling but you want it to KNOW what you MEANT to write? Are you joking? Are you high? Did you bring your brain to work with you? I mean C’MON! Are you REALLY asking me to answer that question?!
***Now back to our regularly scheduled program***
Customer: Can you change it to correct those words?
Me: No, because they ARE WORDS. You can’t ask it to correct words that are correctly spelled but not used in the right context. It doesn’t know what you mean to say only what you wrote. I can show you that the same thing would happen with spell check in Microsoft Word for instance
***This is always the point where I am tempted to hang up because I CAN’T POSSIBLY BE HAVING THIS INANE CONVERSATION***
Customer: Well I want it to correct those words (Well I want a pony and a vacation and the ability to have intelligent conversations but I don’t think either of us are going to get our way)
Me: I understand that but you can’t ask spell check to correct words that AREN’T misspelled. How would it know to do that?
Customer: Oh I guess it wouldn’t
Me: It is important to remind people that they still need to proof read what they wrote in addition to using spell check (I mean God forbid you would want anyone to actually READ what they wrote!)
Customer: Okay well we will just have to make do
Me: Okay have a nice day
Now my head hurts and I’m digging through my desk drawer for a pill of some kind to take away the pain and erase those last 15 minutes from my life. Why is there no escape button in life? I find nothing but some gum wrappers, pennies (why are these necessary in life?), remnants of a half-eaten granola bar (ewww), a stapler and some paper clips. Maybe if I eat an old granola bar while stapling myself it will distract me from the “inane conversation” headache that is throbbing in my temples. Trust me that is actually a type of headache. It’s just less than a severe concussion and right above a migraine that causes you to hallucinate.
The worst part is that I know that this is only the beginning of the inane conversations that I will have with this customer (and unfortunately I am correct) so I have adopted the following guide to try to ease the post traumatic stress disorder that will develop from repeated exposure to inane conversations.
Follow the bouncing ball kids…
1. Keep your end of the conversation simple. Try to use small words and short sentences. Stick to things like “No”, “Can’t”, “Never”, etc.
2. Keep something nearby that you can either shove in your ear or your eye to ease the mental pain of having to listen to the inane conversationalist
3. Try to think of them as “special” and in need of your assistance. You know sort of like a blind person without a cane or a seeing eye dog.
4. Ask questions to continue to confuse them. It doesn’t solve the problem but it’s amusing…like watching a dog chase it’s tail
5. Avoid phrases like, “let me see what I can do” or “that makes sense”. Don’t encourage them it will only make the situation worse.
6. Finally, if you know that the only conversation that you can have with this person is inane then avoid them at all costs. This doesn’t apply to customers or significant others (but in that case you chose them so you only have yourself to blame)
I keep trying to get my customer to put things in writing in the hopes that someday she may just recognize how inane her questions are. I suppose given that she thinks spell check should know what she means that this hope is actually futile. I’m still working on The Guide to AVOIDING the Inane Conversation. I’ll let you know how that goes…
A Batty Broad