Thank you for waiting.
We know your time is valuable.
We appreciate your patience.
A representative will be with you shortly.

“You’re full of crap!” I moan to my phone.
The call time flicks to 60.
An hour!
A friggin’ hour on hold!
I’m thinking that if all of the people
put on hold today
had spent their “valuable” time
actually doing something valuable…

That background music is the same dirge
played in the dentist’s waiting room
fifty years ago…
Damn I can still smell it!
I can hear the shrill of the drill in other room.
Is this supposed to calm me?
Are there subliminal messages
buried in the boring…

intermittently interrupted with a sudden pause
that snaps me to attention in anticipation
that the length of “shortly” is about to end…

But the recording repeats the lie,
and the Concerto in Dentist Minor resumes,
again and again and again…

I worry that this lousy looping melody
will infiltrate my valuable sleep.
The saner part of my brain
commands me to hang up.
But what if “shortly”
is just a moment longer?
Then I will have wasted the past 62 minutes.
No, 63 minutes…
I’ll wait a bit more.

After all, my patience is appreciated.
Although I doubt the person
who made that recording
actually appreciates
my valuable time or patience.
I wonder,
if the person who wrote that script
knew that “shortly” could extend into infinity,
would they have promised it to me?

Another pregnant pause.
Another miscarriage of hope.
I count the hundreds of ways
we are all running out of time.
I count the lies repeated on an endless loop,
to keep the masses calm
while waiting for someone,
to help.

I count the breaths I take between music loops
the beats of my heart
the brain cells firing off ideas
in a million directions
ideas never to be acted upon
because I am tethered to this call.

What if it all just stopped,
the breaths, the heart beats, the brain,
before the “representative takes my call?

What if the end of my life loop
is herald by only deathly silence
in response to the rhetorical:
“How can I help you?”

The representative finally answers.
She doesn’t ask if she can help.
She never acknowledges my ridiculous wait
before requesting my account number,
social security number,
phone number,
and finally my name,
even though I dutifully entered
all of this on my phone
at the start of the call.

Then she asks if I am the Master Account Holder.

“No, that would be my husband,” I reply
“Is he there now?” she asks.
“No, he was here an hour ago when I dialed,
but he had to leave for an appointment.”
“I’m sorry, he will have to give authorization
for me to discuss this account with you.”
“But he did that yesterday.
I was standing right there when he did it. “
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you”

“But I have a confirmation number!”

Long pause
I can’t count my breath!
I can’t feel my pulse!
Please help me!
I can’t hear my voice!
I can’t see my phone when it clicks to 65!

Thank you for waiting.
We know your time is valuable.
We appreciate your patience.
A representative will be with you shortly.