Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Long post, quick read

I hope you'll bear with me, I've been through a traumatic experience. Someone just read me their library card, over the phone!

I'm still shaking.

It seemed like it would be okay at first. They didn't remember their pin, couldn't renew in an automated way, and wanted to know if could I help them? 

Sure, sure, I just need that library barcode number.

They make some self deprecating remark about how they should have had that ready. I don't see it as my role to argue with that. But it doesn't take them an especially long time to find it.

And then the recitation begins.






"You can read it much faster." I say, interrupting.

"I'll start over." They say, ever cautious.









Let me just stop this fascinating and very realistic recounting to explain how to read a library card, or for that matter, a credit card number over the phone.

1. Assume that the person who is helping you is able to type numbers in really fast and doesn't need time to hunt out where each number is on their keyboard. It's a skill that comes with repetition.

2. Spaces are always irrelevant.

3. Enunciate 10% more and speak 10% slower. Thus you should be speaking just a tiny bit slower than you usually do and a tiny bit more clearly. That's it!

Now, let us continue:




And here's the worst thing, if you're still with me down here. I'm a little ashamed to admit it has happened to me more than once. When people read numbers this slowly, sometimes my mind wanders! I forget to type or listen. I get involved in simultaneously writing a blog post and listening to music, chatting with a co-worker and checking in requests. It is too boring and unproductive to just sit there waiting for the next number, and so, like the hare in Tortoise and the Hare, over-confident, I miss a number!

"Oh!" I say, horrified. "I lost that last number. What was it?"

"The last one?" They say. "Er. I'll start over."

And then they go extra slow, because, obviously, I wasn't able to keep up.

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