Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Automated Reply

Summertime -- and the internet is busy with the back and forth of automated response emails. "I am not in the office." and " I am on vacation please contact..." and "Thank you for your inquiry, let us know if we can help you in any other way." I got that last one today and it irked me. Help me in any OTHER way? Can't you help me in the way I asked? Evidently not.

Sometimes it seems like that's all the help that people are willing to offer -- an automated reply. We go through the motions, but with pre-programed responses ready and waiting.

"Hi. How'reyoudoin'?" It's automatic, we don't think before asking. We've said it so often we don't even separate the words any more. And the pre-programed response: "Fine, and you?" or "Can't complain." a few cheerleader-types out there are always "Terrific!"

In church we have automatic responders too: It's the woman saying "Is there anything we can do for your family?" with her mouth, while her mind is already busy deciding which (horrible) casserole dish she will inflict on the already well-fed family desperate for someone to offer to pick up the kids after school. It is the Sunday morning greeter asking the young mother who has been attending for over a year "Is this your first time here?" And it is the elder who says "I'll pray for you." and walks away.

We mean well. We just aren't thinking. My parents always told me -- yours probably told you too -- think before you speak. I think that's good advice -- let's leave the frustrating automated replies to email.

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