What is Your Comment, Please?

In my last blog piece, I considered calling Trump (referred to only as #45) as part of an effort to feel less frustrated as an American, watching the daily madness created by him and his administration. So, this afternoon, I did. At first I called the White House Comments Line at 202.456.1111, which answers automatically. I held on for several minutes, when I then noticed, on the website, http://www.whitehouse.gov  another number, the White House Switchboard at 202.456.1414. So, I hung up and dialed the switchboard.

I was automatically put on hold, then disconnected. I hadn’t even spoken yet. I redialed. After several rings, the switchboard operator answered. I said I’d like to speak to the president. She told me, in a not-too-polite voice, to write a letter and transferred me to an automated line giving the address for the white house. I hung up. I know the address. Of course, email is preferred to postal mail, per the website. But, the rude switchboard operator did not offer up that information. And, in fact, the website offers an automatic, fielded-email option.

I’ll try the email another day. I called the Comments Line again. This time, I held on for about four minutes while music played in the background. When it seemed that a human came on the line, I couldn’t quite tell if it was automated or real.

Volunteer Comments Operator:  Hello, what is your comment, please?

It sounded like one of those fake calls, where you think you’re speaking to someone, but there’s a delay and it speaks again, having anticipated what you probably said.

Me:  Hello, are you there?

VCO:  Yes, go ahead.

Me:  I’m calling to speak to the president.

VCO:  I’m unable to transfer you to anywhere within the White House.

Me:  Then I’d like to leave a message, please, for the president.

VCO:  Go ahead.

Me:  I’m calling to say that I’m not happy with the way in which the president is handling his job. I don’t find him to be very honest, concerned or presidential. Regardless of the fact that I did not vote for him, I feel it’s my duty as an American citizen to speak up. Of course, I could tweet about it with others who feel the same way, or post on Facebook, but that doesn’t accomplish anything. I could blog about it and I did. But, I thought that I would call, as well. (I paused.)

VCO: [silence]

Me (continuing):  Here’s what I think he could be doing differently and better — he should act for the people of this country; he should act like a president; take care of Puerto Rico; cover birth control for women; protect a woman’s right to choose; protect the 1st Amendment as strongly as he and other GOP and NRA members swear by the outdated and dangerous 2nd Amendment; stop playing cat and mouse with other world leaders; protect children’s healthcare; protect those under DACA; NAZI’s are evil and white supremacists are too; stop tweeting all the time with crazy messages at colleagues and others. And, if he doesn’t like the job, he should consider resigning and restoring some level of dignity to the United States of America. That’s my message.

VCO: Okay, thank you for calling. I will give him your message. Have a nice day.


So, do I feel any better? Eh, maybe? Yeah, no, not much. The Volunteer Comments Operator didn’t take my name or phone number, and I don’t know if I was being recorded or if my phone number was retained. Maybe they (the group of VCOs — how many could there be?) compare notes (written? verbal?) over drinks at the Capitol Grille at Happy Hour? Maybe it’s all a ruse and they simply listen (or not) and that’s that.

What are the chances that anyone’s comments actually go anywhere, besides into an operator’s ear? Would anyone actually receive an email, or does it go directly into a spam or junk file? And, because I didn’t speak in 140 character sound-bites or offer ego-boosting praise, I likely just wasted twenty minutes of my day, a bar of battery and my breath.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll call again.





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Writing by Marnie Mitchell-Lister

DoubleU = W


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