Information Please

Once upon a time, when you needed a phone number, you dialed zero, and you spoke to a real live person who gave you information, like the phone number you wanted to call and even the address. Then times changed, and you dialed 411, now called directory assistance, and you got an automated voice asking you what number you would like. How simple and easy that was. Then they started charging you for those information calls. But people who were blind could fill out an application and send in a doctor’s statement, and they wouldn’t be charged. Then phone companies split up, and only certain companies allowed free access to directory assistance for blind customers. Here’s where my struggles began.

Next came a wonderful service called Tell Me. You called this 800 number, and you could get all sorts of information, the weather, movies that are playing, traffic reports, and yes, even phone numbers. Then it was no longer an 800 number, but no problem. Now I had unlimited and free long distance service, so I could still use that number. But it often never heard of the businesses I wanted to call, including the one today. I wanted to find the number for the Short North Theater, so I could request audio description for a play next week. First, I had to find the number of the Ohio Theater, because they own the audio description equipment. Fortunately, I already had that number in my files, but I had to be transferred to somebody else who might know how that whole thing works. Okay. I got the name of the person for whom to ask, if I could ever talk to somebody at the Short North Theater. I asked Siri, the latest and greatest method for getting such information, and she referred me to a website. I went on line and found the theater’s home page, which did not give the phone number, but it had a link for “contact.” So I clicked that link, found the phone number, called it, and I got a recording telling me to go to the website for more information.

Is this the age of information or the age of frustration?

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